Maya Angelou Essay Sample

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Leadership is essential for the success of a given group, society, or organization. Through leadership, a particular group of people is directed, mobilized, motivated, and encouraged to perform a given task. Leadership is among the roles of a manager. The manager in this case is a person charged with given responsibilities for the success of a given venture. At an individual level, one is supposed to manage his or her own life in an effective way to achieve a lifetime objective. Given that leadership is among the roles of a manager, it means that everyone should cultivate leadership qualities in all aspects of life. This can be done through several ways. One of them is by learning from reputable leaders of both the past and the present generation. The world has witnessed myriads of reputable leaders with profound influence on the community.

Their utterances, Way of life, and formulas of handling situations is worthy emulating. As a result, one ought to assess the same and emulate their style of leadership. One area where leadership is essential is in the hospitality industry. Hospitality generally involves accommodating people at a given place. Accommodation in this case involves providing, comforting, guiding, and instructing people on the type of food, entertainment, and recreation facilities available for them. This paper investigates a reputable leader. The leader in consideration is Maya Angelou. The consideration involves an analysis of her biography and application of her leadership style to the hospitality industry. The analysis draws data from various literatures available for the same. Reasons for Choosing Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a renowned writer and an activist of her time. She has been involved in several occupations and professions. Her writings and public sharing of her life earned her the reputation of being the first Black woman to expose her life to the public in the United States of America. She has written several, autobiographies on herself on top of writng several poetic fictions. She has travelled to various places on earth to spread her influence, which has been successful in most cases. Her values, traits, and leadership style suffices the acceptable traits for leaders in the hospitality industry. As a result, she is the best example to be emulated. Early Life

Angelou was born on 4th April, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her real name is Marguerite Johnson. The name ‘Maya’ was accorded to her by her brother Bailey. It was taken in the context to mean ‘my’ or ‘maya sister’. Angelou was the second born to Bailey Johnson, her father, and Vivian Johnson. Angelou’s father was dietician to the Navy and also worked as a door man. Her mother worked as a card dealer and later as a nurse. When Angelou was three years, her parents separated, and send her to Stamps in Arkansas, to stay with her paternal grandmother. She stayed with her grandmother for four years before being taken back to St Louis to stay with her mother. It was during her second period at St Louis that her life changed completely.

At the age of eight, Angelou was raped by Freeman, her mother’s boyfriend. Freeman later confessed his crime to her friend who disclosed the same to the family members. Freeman was arraigned in court and was put in jail for a day. However, Freeman was murdered by unknown people on his fourth day of freedom. At the same time, Angelou became mute whereby she could not speak for five years. According to the BBC News (2005), Angelou understood reasons behind her five years of silence. In her presentations of “I know why a Caged bird sing’ at the BBC world service book club, Angelou claimed that her voice killed Freeman. She claimed that moment she pronounced Freeman’s name in court, her voice disappeared. Therefore, when Freeman died, Angelou claimed that her voice had killed him. Educational Life

During the five-year period of muteness, Angelou developed a strong inclination to poetry. According to Long (2003), Angelou cultivated a deep sense of listening to the world around her to deepen her sense of poetry. After the death of Freeman, Angelou was taken back to her paternal grandmother where she started schooling. Her teacher introduced her to some renowned writers of her time. Some of them include William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Douglas Johnson, and Kames Weldon among many. Also, she was introduced to Black female artist such as Ann Spencer and Frances Harper who inspired her into poetry. At the age of 14, Angelou entered George Washington high school in Oakland California. She also studied drama and dance in California labor school. After graduating, Angelou worked as a conductor in a streetcar whereby she was the first Black female to work in the same position. When she was 17, Angelou gave birth to son called Clyde, who later became a poet (Gillespie, Rosa, & Ri, 2008). Angelou’s Influence in her Early Career

Angelou married a Greek electrician called Enistasious Angelos in the year 1951. She did this against her mother’s wish that was anti- interracial relationships. Angelou took modern dance classes whereby she interacted with various people. One of them was Alvin Ailey who together with Angelou formed a dance team called “Al and Rita”. They performed modern dances at fraternal Black organizations throughout San Francisco though they were not very successful. This failure caused her move to New York where she studied African dance and returned to San Francisco a year later. Angelou’s marriage ended in 1954 and this facilitated her professional dancing in clubs, including nightclub, “The Purple Onion”, where she sang and danced calypso music (Glover, 2009). From 1954 to 1955, Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera “porgy and Bess”. Touring different countries triggered her to learning different languages in few years.

Riding on the popularity of calypso, Angelou recorded her first album dabbed “Miss Calypso” in 1957 which was reissued as a CD in 1996. In an off-Broadway review, her appearance inspired the film “Calypso Heat Wave”, where she sang and performed her own compositions (McWhorter, 2002). In 1959, Angelou met a novelist called James Killens who urged her to concentrate on her writing career and she therefore moved to New York for the same. She joined the “Harlem writers’ guild” where she met African–American authors, including John Henrik Clarke, Paule Marshall, Julian Mayfield and Rosa Guywho helped her publish her work for the first time. She met and heard Dr. Martin Luther King, junior in 1960 and thereafter together with Killens, they organized “the legendary” Cabaret for Freedom. This was to benefit the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and she was named the SCLC’s Northern Coordinator. According to Pierce (2005), Angelou excelled in her campaign with SCLC, which further involved anti-apartheid campaign. Angelou’s Influence in Africa

In 1961, Angelou, who had etched herself as an outstanding performer, took part in the play called ‘The Blacks’ together with other prominent actors. After the play, Angelou met a South African man called Vusumzi Make with whom they moved together to Egypt in Africa. Angelou’s influence got her a job as an associate editor with The Arab Observer, a weekly English language newspaper. She later moved to Accra in Ghana where she was deployed as an administrator in the University of Ghana for three years. At the same time, she became activists for the rights of African-American expatriates. She also engaged in editorial activities in Ghana whereby she became a feature editor for the African Review Newspaper. Angelou returned to USA later, whereby she became an activist for civil rights. Together with Malcolm, Angelou built the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which championed for the rights of common people. Angelou’s Career Peak

In 1968, mixed fortunes occurred for Angelou. Her fellow activist, Martin Luther king, who had requested her to organize demonstrations on the streets, died as a result of an assassination. Devastated by the news, Angelou embarked on aggressive campaigns in editorial works. During this time, Angelou’s genius and creativity was revealed. During this year, she wrote and produced a series of documentaries on African heritage. She further featured on a National Educational Television with her documentary called ‘African Still Current in the US’ among many. During the same year, Angelou was inspired at a dinner party and chose to write her first autobiography. She therefore wrote, ‘I know why the caged bird sings’ that made her very famous. Later Career

In 1972, Angelou’s screenplay dabbed “Georgia” was produced by a Swedish film company and filmed in Sweden as the first screen plays written by a Black woman. She also wrote the film soundtrack, though she had very little additional input in the filming of the movie. Angelou continued working as a composer of songs and movies, and in ten years that followed, she had achieved more than many artists hope to achieve in a life time. Later on in 1970s, Angelou and Oprah Winfrey became good friends. She mentored Winfrey who later grew to become a pop star through mentorship. She continued writing and was later involved in political campaigns for Obama and Clinton (Poetry Foundation, 2012). Qualities That Make Angelou A Great Leader

From the biography narrated above, it is evident that Angelou is a great leader. This is because of the leadership qualities that she possesses. In the first place, she is displayed her vision everywhere she went. During her early years, Angelou saw her voice as a killer. She visualized this during the five year period she was mute. Thereafter, her voice indeed became a killer voice. She became the greatest poet of her time and used her voice to advocate for civil rights thereby killing impunity. At the same time, she always saw what is expected but not ‘what was possible’ (Donna, 2008). As a result, she inspired her followers to fight for their societal rights.

Angelou was also full of integrity. This is portrayed in her writings. She was the first Black American woman to share her private life to the public. This demonstrates her inward nature of being true to her principle; this is integrity. Angelou was a good communicator. She expressed this quality on public televisions, in her writings, and during public rallies. Angelou was also inspirational leader. When she came to Africa, she inspired the African-American expatriates to fight for their rights. Also, together with Malcolm, Mara built the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which inspired its members to fight for their rights.

At the same time, her writings are inspirational. Her autobiography on her trails as a woman championing for her rightful position in the society is inspirational. She was also creative leader. Her creativity was mostly displayed on dance floors and in her documentaries. She was at the same time courageous in her exploits. She courageously handled the male-dominate duties of a conductor during her short time in public transport industry. The same courage enabled her to do daring activities as an activist of civil rights. Angelou was also confident and adaptable to different countries she travelled to. Her main weakness was her inability to stick to a single relationship. Analysis of Angelou’s Leadership Style

Leadership style is a formula employed by a leader to gain influence of his or her Subjects. Angelou displayed various leadership styles. In the first place, she was a democratic leader. She always had the interests of the majority at the heart and therefore sought to help them out. She championed for civil rights in her public campaigns. Angelou was also a pace setting leader. She pioneered many things that are in practice today. For instance, she was the first Black-American woman to act as a bus conductor. Also, she was the first Black woman to share her life to the public. Angelou was also an affiliate leader. She bonded well physically and emotionally with people. As a result, she was invited to many functions and countries. Angelou was also coaching leader. He mentored many people and encouraged them to rise to their potential. A good example is Oprah Winfrey, whom she mentored to become a pop star.

Application of Angelou’s Leadership Style to Hospitality Industry A leader in the hospitality industry should have a style of approach in his or her management duties. He or she can base the leadership style on Angelou’s. In the first place, he or she should be democratic. Democracy involves listening to other people’s opinions (Woods, 2010). Given that the hospitality industry caters for customers with diverse needs, the leader should be democratic in order to build the team to steer his or her goals. A Hospitality industry further demands an affiliate leader. Angelou was able to mix with people from various parts of the world with ease. To gain insight and wide customer base, a leader in the hospitality industry should be affiliate.

A leader in the hospitality industry should also be a coaching leader. He or she should train workers and mentor them to achieve the objectives of the company. At the same time, a leader should set a pace for his or her followers (Martindale, 2011). Just like Angelou, a leader in the hospitality industry should lead the way. However, this leadership style should be applied with care to avoid quenching creativity. Leadership Lesson on Angelou Essential for Hospitality Industry Leadership is divers. One uses several ways to gain influence on the followers. The hospitality industry is a sensitive area that requires special qualities from the leader involved. Given the qualities of Angelou, one can draw inspiration from her values. There are three leadership values essential for a leader in the hospitality industry as discussed bellow. The value of versatility

Versatility is the ability to focus in different directions with needed attention. Angelou was versatile in her duties and life. She managed to integrate various facets of her life into a unique view of human life. She was able to integrate singing, dancing, writing, personal life, editing, leading civil movements, and doing administrative duties on top of other duties. This means that a leader ought to have a diverse mind but not narrowly focused. This value is essential in a hospitality industry because there are diverse activities a leader in the same ought to foresee to completion. At the same time, customers in the hospitality industry are divers. They need a versatile leader to manage them. The Value of Spirituality

Spirituality is a sense of connectedness with human beings and the world at large. This is the case of Angelou. She had a deep connection with human beings and the world. Whenever she travelled, she was concerned with humanity in her destination. Her campaigns for civil rights attest to the same. At the same time, she mingled with people of various calibers. The values of spirituality are essential for a leader in the hospitality industry. A leader in the same ought to realize that business transactions do not exist in a vacuum. He or she should connect with suppliers, workers, customer, business premises, and the environment. As a result, he or she should have a heart for the people and the environment to be considered a good leader. Introspection value

Introspection is mental ability stemming from the belief of a person. Angelou had a deep sense of the same. This is shown in her literatures about her lifestyle. Angelou wrote several literatures about herself painting her true picture to the public. This means that she had a sense of self. She was able to evaluate and understand herself. Introspection value is essential for a manager in the hospitality industry. Through this value, one obtains knowledge of self, which boost his or her emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is essential for a leader as it equips him or her with the mental aged to deal with demanding environment full of customers and workers. Conclusion

Leadership is essential for the success of a given group, society, or organization. Through leadership, a particular group of people is directed, mobilized, motivated, and encouraged to perform a given task. Leadership is one of the roles of a manager in the hospitality industry. The traits displayed by the leader should be applicable to the organization and worthy emulating. Prominent leaders have displayed leadership traits worthy being emulated. Maya Angelou has set an example of leadership traits for leaders to follow. During her reign as a public figure, she demonstrated valuable traits and values as a leader. At the same time, her leadership style rallied people behind her. This means that a leader in the hospitality industry should emulate the traits exhibited by Angelou.


BBC News. (2005). I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Retrieved Oct 07, 2012,
from BBC News: Donna, P. (2008). Poet-author Maya Angelou blends recipes and memories in winning style. Retrieved Oct 07, 2012, from Chicago Tribune: Gillespie, M., Rosa, J., & Ri, J. (2008). Maya Angelou: A Glorious Celebration. New York: Random House. Glover, T. (2009). Dr. Maya Angelou. Ebony, 65 (2), 67.

Long, R. (2003). Maya Angelou. journal of Smithsonian, 36 (8), 84–85. Martindale, N. (2011). Leadership Styles: How to handle the different personas. Strategic Communication Management Journal, 15 (8), 32–35. McWhorter, J. (2002). Saint Maya. The New Republic, 226 (19), 35-41. Pierce, D. (2005). Poet-author Maya Angelou blends recipes and memories in winning style. Retrieved Oct 07, 2012, from Chicago Tribune: Poetry Foundation. (2012). Maya Angelou. Retrieved Oct 07, 2012, from Poetry Foundation: Woods, P. (2010). Democratic leadership: drawing distinctions with distributed leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 7 (1), 3–36.

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