The transformational leader inspires, motivates, and encourages other members of the team to accomplish the mission of their organization. The transformational leader is able to cast a vision the team embraces and strives for each day. Working to accomplish a goal as a team, creates a cohesion and builds the team into a single entity, moving in unison.
Doesn’t this sound like the type of leader you would like to follow? Someone who provides inspiration and motivation to achieve, possibly more than you thought you could yourself? What does it take to be this type of leader?
Well, it starts by listening to others. Listening is probably one of the easiest things to do – literally, you do nothing but let someone else do the talking. In some cases, you “listen” to body language, facial gestures, changes in personality, and so on. Listening should be easy, right? The challenge is, so many of us are stuck in our own heads, planning our next action or comment, or thinking about a task that needs to be addressed or what to have for dinner. If you want to inspire others, start by listening to what they are telling you. Often, they are telling you everything you need to know.
Listening is not enough, you must respond to what is being said in order to meet their needs.
Motivating others requires understanding what motivates them – what is it that really gets them going, excited, and so on. What are they passionate about? Identify that one thing, and you will be well on your way. Too often, leaders think the key to motivating someone is throwing money towards the team. Well, what if your team makes enough money, but their work week consists of 10 hour days, 6 days a week, and their spouse works the night shift while they work the day? Money is not a motivator, but time just may be. Offer some time off, a flexible schedule, and so on. Actually, if your team is working excessive hours, perhaps the issue is a lack of efficiency and proper planning?
The point here is, find out what motivates your team and do that. It could be as simple as recognition in a meeting. You will not know until you ask and listen.
Inspiration is easier for the charismatic leader, the one that seems to know just what to say at the right time. Charisma is often associated with a tyrannical leader. This occurs when charisma is used by the tyrannical leader get others to accomplish something for them, whereas the transformational leader uses charisma to inspire others to achieve more for themselves, others, and the organization. Inspiring is less about motivating others such as providing a reward or recognition. Inspiration is helping others find the passion within themselves to strive for more – whatever that more is.
As you lead your team, focus on listening to what they are telling you. Remember, sometimes they are telling you exactly what you need to know through words and actions, you must learn to pay attention. Respond to what they are telling you in ways that motivate them. Motivation is different for everyone, so as you listen, pay attention for what motivates them. Inspire others to find their passion, and let them take it from there. There is more to successful leadership than just this, but do these 3 things and see where it takes you.
Jared W. Snow
With the various leadership styles out there, I thought it would be appropriate to start discussing different leadership styles, some of their advantages, shortfalls, and common use. Not to mention that we are The Leadership Center – it just makes sense! In this post, you will find a brief overview of transformation, transactional, and servant leadership. Over the next few weeks, we will dive a bit deeper into these styles to provide a greater understanding of each and the best situations to deploy them.
Transformational leaders motivate and inspire others to achieve greater results for themselves, their team, and their organization. The transformational leader transforms others into accomplished members of the team contributing to a greater purpose. This style leverages the motivation of others, requiring some level of autonomy for those being led – the freedom to make decisions on their own.
The transactional leader uses rewards such as monetary, time off, or recognition to encourage others to achieve intended results. This is more of a “carrot or the stick” approach – less carrot than stick. Transactional leadership is often contrasted with transformational leadership; however, Thite (2000) notes that transformational leadership styles strengthen some transactional characteristics – they enhance versus replace them.
The servant leader serves others first by meeting the personal and professional needs of others before their own. The servant leader does not neglect their own needs, rather, they place the needs of others (including the organization) before their own.
These are not the only leadership styles around, but they are among the most common (positive and effective) styles. I will wrap up this series with a discussion on Situational Leadership, a style studied and discussed by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey. Situational leadership embraces the individual’s different needs and the situation to drive the style or approach. Each style is unique and may be applied successfully in one organization. After all, each person on your team or in your organization is unique and is motivated differently.
Jared W. Snow
Thite, M. (2000). Leadership styles in information technology projects. International Journal of Project Management, 18(4), 235-241. doi:10.1016/S0263-7863(99)00021-6