Sunday, October 26, 2014

What do Transformational Leaders Really Do?

Many organisations talk about believing in transformational leadership, but what should the landscape look like in an organisation with transformation leaders. How do you know if you are really being led by a transformational leader – or is it by someone who just likes the sound of the word ‘transformational’, but doesn’t really know what it means to be transformational in practice?
Some traits of a transformational leader include;
 1) Transformational leaders try to develop followers’ full potential (e.g., Bass, 1985; Johnson & Dipboye, 2008); therefore, followers may tend to feel that their organization is effective and that it can provide future opportunity and development. As such, it is expected that followers will be more likely to stay in the organization because they are satisfying their needs for self-categorization/self-identity, and they have a sense of being unique from other members in society. Organizational identification is therefore likely to be strengthened.

2) Kark and Shamir (2002) proposed that transformational leaders influence two distinct levels of their followers’ self-concept: the relational and the collective self. Followers come to identify with their particular leader through the relational aspects of the followers’ self-concept, while organizational or social identification is influenced by priming of their collective self.

3) Transformational leadership behaviors include inspirational motivation, idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Among three types of transactional leadership behaviors, passive management by exception (MBEP) is considered to be a passive transactional leadership behavior, while active management by exception (MBEA) and contingent reward leadership behaviors are considered ‘active’ transactional leadership, as demonstrated empirically in a number of studies (e.g., Avolio, Bass, Walumbwa; Zhu, 2004; Bycio, Hackett, & Allen, 1995; Zhu, Riggio, Avolio, Sosik, 2011).

4) Transformational leaders possess great referent and inspirational power (Bass, 1985) which enables them to gain the respect, admiration, and trust of their followers. They are also seen as role models who exert significant and positive influence on followers that creates a sense of meaningfulness (Bass, 1985). Employees who experience a greater sense of meaning from their work are likely to feel more empowered (Spreitzer, 1995) and proud of being a member of the organization, and thereby enhance their identification with the organization (Koberg et al., 1999).

5) Transformational leaders align followers’ self-identities with their organization’s values and mission (Shamir et al., 1993).

6) Transformational leaders’ enthusiasm and optimism can build team spirit and can also provide meaning and challenge to followers’ work or tasks, enhancing followers’ feelings of impact, competence, meaning, and autonomy associated with psychological empowerment. All these factors can contribute to organization members’ feeling pride from being a part of their organization, which consequently increases their identification with the organization (Ashford et al., 2008).

7) Transformational leaders also show individualized consideration, such as listening attentively and paying close attention to their followers’ needs for achievement and growth. Such behaviors encourage followers to take on increasingly more responsibilities in order to develop to their full potential (Bass, 1985), thereby increasing their perceived competence associated with psychological empowerment (Spreitzer, 1995); and

8) Furthermore, transformational leaders provide followers with greater opportunities for decision latitude, challenge, and responsibility, which will cause followers to feel more confident and meaningful, and therefore psychologically empowered. This helps to satisfy followers’ need for affiliation within the organization by improving their self-esteem, which eventually may enhance their identification with the organization (Ashford et al., 2008).
This list isn’t exhaustive, but gives a pretty good indication what you should ‘feel’ and ‘experience’ if you are really being led by a transformational leader – the sad part is, few will find that they are led in this way.
There is still so much scope for improving leadership performance around the globe. The ‘blue print’ for effective leadership is available from many sources for all to see – it just needs leaders to start applying it.
When you see the benefits to the employee and the organisation – you can’t help asking what the problem is and why ‘boards’ and other stakeholders aren’t encouraging this leadership style.
Zhu, W., Sosik, J.J., Riggio, R.E., and Yang, B. (2012). Relationships between Transformational and Active Transactional Leadership and Followers’ Organizational Identification: The Role of Psychological Empowerment. Institute of Behavioral and Applied Management. p.186-212.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How Badly Do You Want to be a Good Leader?

Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system, and brain, works. New advances in the field of neuroscience may help us unravel the physiology of leadership effectiveness. Neuroscience findings are helping to connect the dots between human interaction and effective leadership practices. As the mapping of the human brain continues, we can expect to learn more about how the brain functions and how leaders can use this knowledge to best lead people and organizations.
At the Center for Creative Leadership, they are deeply intrigued by neuroscience’s potential for enhancing leadership effectiveness. Success as a leader, after all, often comes down to specific behavioral traits. The more we know about how to encourage positive behavior and change limiting behavior in ourselves and others, the better we will meet our challenges.
Most people can recognize the behavioural traits that make a good leader but it’s the sustainable application that is often a key block to effective leadership success. Take collaboration, a behavioural trait that is often associated with effective leadership. So why do so many leaders actually find it hard to collaborate effectively? Is it because other deeply entrenched behaviours come to sabotage the collaboration process – as the leader, whether consciously or sub-consciously, tries to protect their own span of control.
John Ryan mentions that "as we explore what's new and meaningful on the frontiers of leadership development, we do know this: the context in which leadership happens is changing every day in every sector. We are living in a VUCA world: one characterised by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity and will be for years to come. In a dizzying swirl of socio-political upheaval, natural disasters and volatile business markets, many of us stay awake at night wondering if our skills and knowledge are enough to see us through tomorrow or the next quarter. Seeing farther than that is even more daunting and yet we have to keep searching."
As leaders have to deal with more uncertainty and a business environment that is in a state of constant change, many leaders can feel the pressure and stress of their role. Some of course will say they thrive on being put in stressful situations, but the connection between stress and brain function is one area of neuroscience that will "change the landscape of leadership development," predicts Marian Ruderman, senior fellow and research director at the Center for Creative Leadership. "Advances in neuroscience are giving us insight into how people learn and remember, how we manage our emotions, how we behave in the moment, and how we build long-term resiliency."
Marian Ruderman from the Center of Creative Leadership “thinks it’s all around the how. Leadership is not changing; it’s still about achieving direction, alignment and commit­ment. What is changing is that we will be moving away from the competency-based approach to understanding the being part of leadership, i.e. who we are, how we pres­ent ourselves, and how that aligns for people. Neurosci­ence is also helping us understand resilience, renewal and self-regulation. Where if you can have greater control of your nervous system, you can control your responses. This can help in all sorts of leadership activities and is especially valuable in delicate or difficult situations. Self-regulation can be a powerful underpinning for anyone who wants to be more effective in leadership roles.”
Leaders need all the help they can get to embrace the mantle of leadership, and in so doing inspire and motivate their followers to achieve greater things – both for themselves and for the greater good of the organisation. In the process taking the organisation to a new level of operational efficiency and sustainable output, never achieved before – that in itself creates a resilient organisational infrastructure that can absorb and respond to their ever changing business environment in a positive sustainable way.
But most importantly leaders need to remember that their role is all about inspiration and motivation.
As David Rock (2011) states, “leaders and leadership scholars of the future may be looking at the world in a whole new way - with the brain firmly in mind. And the journey has really only just begun.”
Rock, D. (2011). The neuroscience of leadership: time for a new science of leadership. Psychology Today, March.
Ryan, J.R. (2012) What's next for leadership? 5 big ideas. Center for Creative Leadership Annual Report, 2011-2012.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is the Concept of Retirement Changing for Good?

In an article by Richard Ford in The Times he highlights how “baby boomers are spearheading a social revolution that will force companies to recognise the benefits of a gradual withdrawal from the world of work, rather than a sudden cut-off retirement date.”
Ros Altmann, a former director-general of Saga ( a firm that focuses on the over 50’s), said that the change was being driven by people living longer and healthier lives, along with poor pension prospects for those heading towards retirement age.
Also many of us will have witnessed the sad decline and even death of individuals who appeared healthy on the outside, who just couldn’t cope with retirement and who within a short-time of retiring suffered health problems or worse.
An article over ten years ago that looked at the lives of people over 100 years old found that all of those they interviewed still did some kind of work – admittedly not full time, but all of them were ‘active’ to some degree.
“There is a social revolution under way, which is being led by the baby boomers, who have redefined everything in their lives, particularly around the world of work. They are now going to redefine retirement,” Ms Altmann said.
Her comments come as a report published on 4th August 2014 highlights how age no longer defines the hobbies and lifestyle of the over 50 ‘super-boomers’. It says that with their fitter bodies, more active minds, higher levels of entrepreneurship and fewer worries about what people think of them than previous generations of over 50’s, they are increasingly the face of fashion, design and beauty.
One third of the British population is now over 50 – the ‘super-boomers’ who are the wealthiest, healthiest and most active people in that age group in history. By 2030 the number of people aged 60 will reach 20 million, according to official figures.
A report by The Future Laboratory, commissioned by the Huawei technology company, highlighted how a ‘second life’ awaits the over-50’s, during which they will start second or even third careers, including setting up craft-based businesses. Tom Savigar, chief strategy officer of The Future Laboratory, said of the over-50’s; “retirement offers them the chance to rev up rather than slow down, to start a new business or career, to invest and seek adventure – all with confidence, experience and attitude.”
Yet we mustn’t forget that as the divide between the wealthy and the poor seems to increase in every country around the world – this divide will exist within the over 50 age group too. There will be those 50 year olds who have had full and successful careers who have the means to ‘rev up’ rather than slow down and look at opportunities to ‘invest’ in craft-based businesses. But we must be realistic and recognise that there will be a large proportion of this over 50 age group that will suffer – they will not be able to afford to live a decent life – not being able to afford fuel bills to keep them warm in winter, and even lack the finances to feed themselves properly.
The suffering that exists today within the elderly population will just increase – and what I’m not seeing anywhere is the plan for dealing with this group of people. Many will suffer through no fault of their own, where pensions – that were once secure vehicles to ensure you had a good retirement – are no longer secure.
So many will have to work after retirement simply because they need the income to survive and this group will compete with other job hunters unless organisations can find a win-win scenario to develop dual operating structures that allow retires to work for them.
The retirement landscape is definitely changing and in a big way – and though academics and researchers have recognised and written about this phenomenon, it’s not clear that organisations (or governments) are making any changes to their ‘modus operandi’ to cater for this change.   
So it seems likely that the ‘baby boomers’ themselves will have to spearhead the change in the retirement landscape – and it’s a change that is coming very, very quickly.
Ford, R. (2014). Over-50 ‘superboomers’ rewrite the retirement rules. The Times. 4th August, p.9-10.