My leadership style has evolved through the years. At the start of my career, I was a task motivated transactional leader. I thought my role as a leader was to provide followers with the necessary resources to accomplish a task and clear instructions on how to go about doing so. Processes, systems and controls are a necessary aspect of management but what truly motivates a team to achieve great results is transformational leadership. Nahavandi (2012) notes, “Transactional contracts do not inspire followers to aim for excellence; rather, they focus on short-term and immediate outcomes. Long-term inspiration requires transformational leadership.” (p. 193). When undertaking change initiatives, a transformational leadership approach is the only way to inspire followers long enough to change the existing state of affairs to propel the new order .What exactly is transformational leadership? I have learned through my leadership training and experience that transformational leadership consists of being an authentic leader, inspiring followers to see your vision, and forming effective team collaborations that increase performance and ignite the creative energy necessary to channel innovative ideas.
Characteristics of an Authentic Leader
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office” – Dwight David Eisenhower
Authentic leaders have integrity and are genuine individuals.Nahavandi (2012) writes,” Authentic leaders are people who know themselves well and remain true to their values and beliefs” (p.198). Authentic leaders understand their purpose, allow their personal values to guide their decisions, and exhibit self-discipline. Their actions and their words are in alignment. They “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk”. Followers are drawn to leaders who are real, lead with passion, and operate from a place of moral righteousness. When followers see and sense a leader is genuine, a connection is established. This is how follower loyalty is earned.
Vision: The Key to Organizational Change
“If you can dream it, you can do it” – Walt Disney
Creating a vision and inspiring followers to see and buy into your vision is the key to organizational change. I learned how vital this was to bring about change when I turned around a failing real estate franchise early in my career. I had to obtain buy-in from the franchise executives, the vendors, and the remaining sales team.
One of the key roles of leaders is to guide followers through organizational change. During transformational change, effective leaders provide a vision to followers to help them formulate a picture, in their minds eye, of the new direction in which they will drive the organization. Nahavandi (2012) writes, “…providing a vision and inspiring followers are the most important functions of leaders during change…the leaders vision is vital to creating change” (p. 290, 291).
In short, vision is the act of a leader seeing the future the way he or she would like it to come to fruition. Bateman and Snell (2007) write, ” A leader can create a vision that creates high performance aspirations, the nature of corporate or business strategy , or even the kind of workplace worth building” (p. 395).
Enhance Performance Through Team Synergy
“Teamwork makes the dream work” – Bang Gae
Creating synergistic team collaborations has been the catalyst to my professional and academic accomplishments. When working effectively, a team develops synergy which enhances performance exponentially. To achieve this enhanced state of productivity each member must bring to the table complementary expertise in addition to interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Characteristics of an effective team include commitment to the team vision, common goals and objectives, clearly defined membership roles, and collaboration and cooperation among members. Additionally, an effective team requires resources to complete the project as well as trust in one another and in their leader.To summarize the effective team, Bateman and Snell (2007) write, “A real team is formed of people (usually a small number) with complementary skills who trust one another and are committed to a common purpose, common performance goals, and a common approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable” (p.461).