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Leadership Capstone (Comprehensive Essay Exam)

Jeffrey Stephens Jr.

University of Colorado-Colorado Springs



The first motivation that I had for pursuing the leadership communication track was

that I wanted to be able to become a leader who could use his intelligence as a tool to lead his

followers well. With my intelligence, I believe that I could create a vision and be able to

effectively communicate this vision to the people that follow me. I think intelligence or even

just being knowledgeable is a key to be a leader who leads well and gives practical solutions

to specific problems. I believe that not only being intelligent when it comes to handling

knowledge is useful when it comes to be a leader but being emotionally intelligent is useful

as well because it allows you to build better relationships with your followers. Based upon

this first motivation, my professional and life goals were informed through my studies

because I learned that intelligence and emotional intelligence are both useful and influential

when it comes to be an effective leader not only in my career but in my relationships.

The second motivation that I had for pursuing the leadership communication track

was that I intended to become a leader who was seen as trustworthy to all the people that he

surrounded himself with and everyone who followed him. I think that it is necessary to be

trustworthy as a leader because if you can trust your followers and believe the best in them

then the relationships tend to be stronger. I believe that trustworthiness is one of my values

when it comes to be a leader because I have found that not only in my career but in my

personal relationships that people tend to connect with people they can trust. When it comes

to believing the best in people you intend to lead or work alongside you must be truthful to

each other so that communication is improved, while creativity and productivity is increased

within a work environment. Ultimately, when it comes to being trustworthy whether it be in

the context of a work environment or personal relationships, it is best to believe the best and

trust those you want to lead in pursuit of your vision and their dreams.

The third motivation that I had for pursuing the leadership communication track was

that I wanted to become a leader who is grounded in the value of honesty. The reason that I

want to become a leader grounded in honesty because as a leader you must be honest about

your vision and with honesty comes integrity, inspiration, and the encouragement of your

followers. With integrity, I believe that as a leader you should always do the right thing in

every situation for the right reason. I also believe that as a leader you should inspire and

encourage the people you lead because if you do it will promote trust within the relationship

between a leader and his followers. In the end, I believe honesty is one of the most valuable

traits as a leader in the workplace and in your personal relationships.

The fourth motivation that I had for pursuing the leadership communication track was

that I wanted to become a leader who learned how to care for my followers and motivate

them to become better leaders themselves. When it comes to caring and motivating people

that I am supposed to lead, I think that this is a combination of emotional intelligence,

trustworthiness, and honesty. With all of these, I have the ability build strong relationships

and networks with my followers within both the professional and life context. I believe that

being able to care for and motivate your followers is beneficial to an effective and productive

environment. Overall, when it comes to caring for and motivating your followers as a leader

you need to be trustworthy, honest, and emotionally intelligent so that you can lead people


The other things that motivated me to pursue the leadership communication track was

to improve my strengths as a leader and strengthen my weaknesses when it comes to

communicating as a leader. The strengths that I have as a leader are that I am a active

listener, mediator, and compassionate which are some skills and values that I believe has

made me become the leader that I aspire to be. As an active listener, I have learned that the

people that follow me just need someone to listen to understand and not just listen to respond

while also knowing when someone needs a response. As a mediator, I have learned that I can

bring conflict resolution into situations that my followers need help in and show them a

better way to deal with hard situations. As a compassionate leader, I have learned that when I

provide compassion to my followers it makes better relationships.

When it comes to my weaknesses that I believe I have strengthened are that I can

communicate effectively, take charge, and convey the message of my vision as a leader. I

have learned how to effectively communicate all throughout this leadership communication

track. The class that was beneficial to me learning how to effectively communicate was

Leadership Theory and Practice which showed me how leaders communicate and what things

that I need to practice to effectively communicate. The class that was beneficial to me

learning about taking charge and conveying the message of my vision as leader was

Organizational Leadership because it showed me what it takes to be a leader in a

organization which means sometimes you have to take charge to achieve your vision and

your ability to convey your vision effectively will dictate whether or not your desired goal

will be accomplished. After discussing my motivations and the influence of my studies that

have impacted my professional and life goals, now I will discuss the different definitions of


There are so many different definitions of leadership, but the definitions that I will be

discussing are transactional leadership and transformational leadership. In Leadership: A

Communication Perspective it states that, “The transactional leader is most concerned with

the satisfaction of physiological, safety, and belonging needs” [ CITATION Joh13 \l 1033 ].

With this definition, I have come to understand that transactional leaders use rewards to meet

their followers needs which can be seen as a passive way to lead. Transactional leaders come

up with a specific criterion that constitutes them to provide a reward to their followers if the

follower provides the desired outcome. Now after providing a definition of transactional

leadership, I will provide a definition of transformational leadership.

Leadership: A Communication Perspective says that, “Transformational leadership is

empowering and inspirational; it elevates leaders and followers to higher levels of motivation

and morality”[ CITATION Joh13 \l 1033 ]. When it comes to be a transformational leader,

they tend to want to lead followers to become leaders themselves through motivation,

inspiration, and empowerment. As a leader, you trying to instill confidence and hope into

your followers that one day their vision and dreams would come to fruition while getting

them to accomplish your vision and dreams in the process. Transformational leaders intend to

help the people they lead to live better lives by believing the best in them and motivating

them to achieve their greatest desires. Now after providing a definition of both transactional

and transformational leadership, I will compare and contrast them.

As stated in Leadership: A Communication Perspective, “the distinction between

transactional and transformational leadership is dichotomous—leaders are either

transactional or they are transformational”[ CITATION Joh13 \l 1033 ]. This is one of the big

contrasts when it comes to deciding what kind of leader you want to be because you cannot

be both a transactional leader (rewards for performance) and transformational leader

(inspirational and supportive). Transactional leaders tend to focus more on providing rewards

for performance over the well -being of the person whereas transformational leaders tend to

focus more on the well-being of the person over providing rewards for performance.

Transactional leaders focus more on providing rewards for performance because they are

driven to make sure that their followers provide acceptable performance and if not, they take

action to either correct performance or improve performance. Transformational leaders focus

more on the well-being of the person because they know if they support, encourage, and

motivate their followers that it would build trust, comradery, and that performance would not

be much of an issue.

The only comparison that I could find between transactional leaders and

transformational leaders is the title “leader” because they are quite different in that

transactional leaders focus more on the structure of the environment and the guidelines they

expect for the followers to abide by whereas transformational leaders focus more on the

vision of the organization as a whole and attempt to instill motivation within their followers

so they can keep improving their own lives. In Leadership: A Communication Perspective it

says that transactional leaders “maintain the status quo” within their organization which is

the complete opposite transformational leaders[ CITATION Joh13 \l 1033 ].

Transformational leaders use charisma to provide a vision, individualized consideration to

give guidance and support, inspiration to make sure that their expectations and goals are

understood, and intellectual stimulation to provide their followers opportunities to problem

solve and make their own decisions. In the end, transformational leaders are seen as creative

(inventive when coming up with new ideas), interactive (effective when explaining new

ideas), visionary (provide a vision that followers want to get behind), empowering (empower

followers by delegating ownership of work), and passionate (enthusiastic about their vision

while encouraging their followers as well as themselves in their work).

After providing definitions of transactional leaders and transformational leaders while

comparing and contrasting them now I will discuss which definition most resonates with the

leader that I desire to become. The definition provided of a transformational leader is the one

that I believe resonates with me based on two reasons. The first reason is that I see myself as

a leader who empowers and inspires my followers whether it be in a work or personal

context. I believe that over my time studying in this leadership communication track that I

have seen my ability to empower and inspire others begin to improve while also finding the

confidence in my vision and getting others to commit to follow me in my vision. The second

reason is that I see myself as a leader who motivates and creates an environment of high

expectations so that as a leader I can elevate to the next level and bring my followers along

with me.

I believe that as a transformational leader I tend to provide my followers with an

environment in which there is trust, encouragement, and support. I would think that my

followers would not only just see me as leader because of a title, but that they would see me

as a leader based on my characteristics and values. I believe that I am a transformational

leader because I can be creative, interactive, visionary, empowering, and passionate when it

comes to leading my followers well. I am very self-aware that I need to work on being more

passionate and interactive as a leader, but I still believe that I am a transformational leader.

Mainly, I have provided a definition of both a transactional and transformational leader,

compared and contrasted them, and given an idea of what type of leader I deem myself to be

which now leads me into discussing the knowledge that I have gained during this time in the

leadership communication track.

When it comes to discussing the knowledge that I gained during this time in the

leadership communication track, four courses that provide information that was most

surprising to me would have to be Ethical Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Leadership

Communication in a Global Environment, and Seminar in Leadership and Organizational

Change. They influenced my perception of what a leader is how different things can

determine what type of leader a person is and could become if they desired.


Works Cited

Johnson, C. E. (2018). Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow.

Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Johnson, C. E., & Hackman, M. Z. (2013). Leadership: A Communication Perspective 7e.

Kellerman, B. (2004). Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters. Boston:

Harvard Business School Press and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard

University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Kelley, R. (1988, November). In Praise of Followers. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review:

Leroy, H. (2020, March 3). Love Makes You Blind: So Does Leadership. Retrieved from Forbes:


Smith, W. K., & W, L. M. (n.d.). Leadership Skills for Managing Paradoxes. Retrieved from


Smith, W. K., Lewis, M. W., & Tushman, M. L. (2016, May). "Both/And" Leadership. Retrieved

from Harvard Business Review:

Varner, I., & Beamer, L. (2011). Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace. New

York: McGraw-Hill.