Reflective Essay on Toy Box Leadership

This essay will present my views about the leadership lessons discussed in the book I recently read entitled Toy Box Leadership written by Ron Hunter Jr. and Michael Waddell (2008) as part of my learning reflection on the essential socio-cultural and personal competencies discussed in the unit CPD1102. The authors used the toys that we as kids love way back to explain leadership principles that are reflected in each toy. It was an entertaining and exciting experience to go back to my childhood as I read about my favorite toys mentioned in the book while I learn, better understand and know by heart some important leadership concepts that are very beneficial to aspiring managers like me. It made me realize how much work I still need to do to further improve myself in terms of becoming an effective leader because for a long while I have believed in my own style and also imitated others without really knowing why I choose to be that kind of leader.

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I have discovered different values behind leadership which are surprisingly relevant to my previous experiences and dealings with my previous managers. In the following paragraph, I will discuss each toy leadership concept and show my understanding about it by identifying its significance and relevance to the eight socio-cultural and personal competencies that I am expected to develop over the next two years until my course completion. Then in the end after the discussion you will never look and think of each toy the same way again.

First, Hunter (2008) discussed about the LEGO bricks which explain the importance of the leadership lesson on Relationships: Building begins with connecting. He believed that in business, if you do not connect—with your customer, with your co-workers, with your vendors—you are out of business. The bricks teach us that each individual is interdependent on the next connection for success. If the LEGO piece is placed correctly within a structure it provides strength and substance and adds to the overall structure which means that placing each person so he or she connects properly results in better use of human resources. He claimed that properly connecting a person within an organization is just as critical as properly placing a LEGO brick within a structure because as we all know, one LEGO stuck in the wrong place can ruin a perfectly good castle.

I agree to this concept because it explains how important relationships are in building a network of connection which is essential especially now in our globally connected and competitive environment. This also highlights the importance of bringing a good attitude in leading a team because it promotes optimism within the group and cultivates good relationships among members and co-workers which make the workload lighter and easier. Communication also relates to this concept because knowing how to effectively and properly communicate within the team or an organization supports smooth relations among everyone involved. Additionally, good communication avoids chaos in the workplace caused by misconception and misinterpretation. Thus, these LEGO bricks represent the value of connections and relationships in the business that if achieved properly could effectively sustain an organization. Then second is the Slinky Dog which has been entertaining people for sixty years and even now grows into popularity until its greatest boost from the 1995 animated movie Toy Story. It presents the importance of a leader’s vision for personal and corporate growth, as it shows how to attract followers. Hunter (2008) said that this toy allows us to observe the responsive process that an organization must go through to achieve growth and the main lesson is to pull and then be patient.

I believe that leaders provide the vision and direction to the team or organization and sometimes they fall into the trap of pulling too quick, too hard, too far, too weak or pulling from the wrong end that’s why organizations fail because leaders become too ambitious, too idealistic or even too safe to see the results they visualize. But of course it is important to consider that there are also some parts of the organization especially the people who resist changes who react and accept developments slowly than the others, so the leader should learn how to be patient in allowing the rest of the organization to adjust and follow through his vision. This highlight commitment and self-direction because it shows how commitment is tied to the achievement of company or team objectives and the ability to supervise patiently towards the end goal. Finally the Yo-yo, it is believed to have originated from the Philippines that is played by releasing it and pulling it back then later doing tricks like walk the dog, around the world, etc.

According to Hunter (2008) this toy tackles creativity because it remains dormant until it is released. Some people think that creativity is only present to certain people but the truth is everyone has the ability to be more creative when the conditions are right. Additionally, we can also help others to release their creative side and added that good leaders don’t necessarily need to be exceedingly creative to be successful, but they must surround themselves with people who are. They may not live consistently outside the box but they must need people around them who do. And to maximize creativity, a leader needs to trust those who think outside the box. He also mentioned that the most creative freedom by far is the freedom to fail, just like how many people ever get the yo-yo trick right the first try?

This means giving permission for your team to fail while being creative rather than failing to even try something new and take the risk because of their fear that you as their leader will refuse their idea. This concept describes the value of creativity and innovation towards tasks performed. The author said that leaders are not expected to be exceedingly creative but they have to surround themselves with people who are by encouraging and cultivating a creative environment within the team or organization. And just as the yo-yo goes up and down, creativity is a cycle as well the competence just needs practice in order to further enjoy always doing it.

There are more toys discussed in the book that teaches leadership lessons which includes the Play-Doh which tackles mentoring and being mentored, Mr. Potato Head, Rubik’s Cube, Rocking Horse and more others however this three were just the three most relevant to my reflection on the socio-cultural and personal competencies identified in CPD1102. In summary, I have learned how basic are the competencies that are tied with the above mentioned leadership principles because it can easily be related to the toys I grew up with. It was something I have overlooked and never thought could provide value in my current leadership perspective. However in reality it is indeed easier said than done but through this book I can say that I am never too old to play with these toys because I can use them not to play with but to remind me of the important leadership principles and socio-cultural and personal competencies I need to develop so I can be a successful leader and manager in the future. i

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