Sunday, August 18, 2013

Do You ‘Walk the Talk’ When It Comes to Leadership?

Over the last twenty three years, transformational leadership has become one of the dominant leadership theories within organizational sciences (Bass, 1990), where a number of studies have suggested that leaders who often engage in transformational leadership behaviours, that include;
§  charisma,
§  inspirational motivation,
§  intellectual stimulation, and
§  individualized consideration,
have a direct effect on their subordinates’ attitudes and behaviour.
For example Wang Yung-Shui and Huang Tung-Chun in a 2009 article highlighted how “leaders who exhibit transformational leadership behavior are associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, involvement, and performance by their subordinates. In addition, Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, and Fetter (1990) demonstrated that transformational leaders are directly related to employees’ performance of organizational citizenship behaviors. Indeed, largely bolstered by researchers such as Bass, the theory of transformational leadership is currently viewed as the most widely accepted leadership paradigm (Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006; Tejeda, Scandura, &
Pillai, 2001),” p.380.
One of the key drivers in being a ‘true’ transformational leader is the ability recognise both your own and your followers’ emotions or moods and to be able to ‘positively’ respond to these emotions on a ‘consistent’ basis.
Yung-Shui and Tung-Chun go on to highlight how “in the last few decades, within the field of leadership, transformational leadership behavior has come to represent the most effective form of close engagement between leaders and followers that motivates the latter to perform beyond their transactional agreements. Robbins (2001) defined transformational leaders as leaders who provide individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation, and who possess charisma. Bass (1990) categorized this concept through the designation of four behaviors typical of a transformational leader: charisma, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration,” p.381.
Though it’s worth remembering that later, Antonakis, Avolio, and Sivasubramaniam (2003) replaced the term charisma with idealized influence; which for me was one of those instances of making change for ‘change sake’; as when I speak to leaders and followers alike, they all understand the concept of charisma, but don’t have a clue what idealized influence means – and I feel that it’s important, as we research and develop the conditions and traits for effective leadership, that we do so in a language that is clear to those we want to engage with – just as a transformational leader would do.
It’s also worth remembering that “there are several reasons that transformational leadership is imperative. Firstly, a leader possesses idealized influence only if his or her followers seek to identify with, and want to emulate, him or her. This type of leader is admired, respected, and trusted. Secondly, transformational leaders behave in ways that motivate and inspire their followers by providing meaningful challenges. These leaders encourage followers to envision attractive future states, which they can ultimately envision for themselves. Furthermore, intellectually stimulating leaders aim to expand their followers’ efforts in terms of innovativeness and creativity by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways. In brief, transformational leaders concentrate their efforts on longer term goals, emphasize their vision, and encourage their followers to put forth extra effort to achieve group goals.”
The question that researchers and stakeholders need to be asking is how is transformational leadership being taken out of the many books and seminars that exist on the subject; and translated and implemented into real effective transformational leadership on the ground; since history has taught us that it’s one thing to talk about a great concept but another thing completely to implement it effectively on a consistent basis – it’s all about walking the talk.
One thing a true transformational leader does that often makes them stand out from the crowd of wannabe business leaders is that that are constantly reviewing their own performance, assessing how well they are performing in their leadership role and also constantly seeking constructive feedback from their team – it’s simply part of the toolkit of transformational leadership and something that can’t be ignored.
So as part of your leadership self-development do you regularly ‘debrief’ yourself on your leadership performance and proactively make adjustments to your style to make yourself even better – do you walk the talk?
Yung-Shui, W. and Tung-Chun H. (2009). THE RELATIONSHIP OF TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP WITH GROUP COHESIVENESS AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal; Vol. 37, Issue 3, p.379-392.

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