What is transformational leadership? According to CIO, transformational leadership is a leadership style where leaders encourage, inspire, and motivate employees to create change and innovate. This will allow the company to grow, thereby shaping the future success of the company. How is this methodology accomplished? Ultimately, a leader inspires people by setting an example at the executive level through independence in the workplace, employee ownership, and through a strong sense of corporate culture.
One example of a business properly capturing employee engagement is that of Kent Thiry, CEO of the kidney care firm DaVita. In an effort to salvage a near-bankrupt company called Total Renal Care, he led an effort to create a new identity and set of values. First, he renamed the company DaVita – Italian for “giving life” – and settled on a list of core values that included service excellence, teamwork, accountability and fun. Here, he and other senior managers truly committed to rallying employee support by participating in events such as performing skits in costumes and honoring employee heroism through awards banquets, among others. As you can see, transformational leaders inspire; clearly a leadership expert, today DaVita has demonstrated new growth that represents 30 percent of its revenue, which is performance beyond expectations, showcasing an effective transformation.
There are many characteristics that define transformational leaders. One key attribute is the fact that leaders can motivate their workforce without resorting to micromanaging, instead trusting trained employees to take authority over decisions in their assigned jobs. Further, this style of management gives employees more room to be creative, gain insight into the future, and find new solutions to old problems. Through mentorship and training, employees who are on track to become leaders will be prepared to become transformational leaders.
This type of leadership style began in 1973 at the behest of James V. Downton in 1973. James Burns further expanded on the concept in 1978. Finally, in 1985, researcher Bernard M. Bass incorporated ways of measuring the success of transformational leadership, encouraging leaders to demonstrate authentic, effective leadership that, ideally, employees will be inspired to follow, both at the higher level and long term.
Bass pinpointed several characteristics that a transformed leader embodies. A transformational leader is someone who:
· Encourages the positive development and motivation of employees
· Displays the moral standards within the organization while encouraging others to follow suit
· Using clear values, priorities and standards, fosters an ethical work environment
· Establishes company culture by motivating employees to transform from an attitude of self-interest to an attitude where they are working for the common good
· Emphasizes authenticity, open communication and cooperation
· Coaching and mentoring are provided through allowing employees to take ownership of tasks and make decisions
While natural instincts will take you far, the transformational leadership role involves so much more. According to Forbes, there are several guidelines to utilize when defining this type of leadership. To experience business transformations, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself:
A few questions to ask yourself: Has the clarifying vision of the future been widely accepted? Are benefits well defined? Is the rationale for change sensible and sound? Does the change anticipate crisis and opportunity? Are the rationale and vision easy to communicate in roughly three minutes and are they garnering a reaction from employees who aren’t executives? Has a clearcut roadmap been developed and shared with others to gain support?
Is there a change champion calling others to action? Are short terms wins being generated by a Guiding Coalition? Do rewards and recognition go beyond money? Are leaders able to go after bigger problems by leveraging the positive energy generated by short-terms wins?
Has a change Sponsor been selected? Does an established Governance Body/Guiding Coalition maintain urgency throughout the enterprise while overseeing and refining the execution of the transformation roadmap? Does the effort include diverse, influential leaders chosen from throughout the organization? Is there a day-to-day leader in place who can drive execution, remove barriers, identify needs, manage the roadmap and coordinate the program’s various work streams? Does the effort have enough sufficient resources with the right skills dedicated to it?
Have stakeholders who are necessary for transformation success been identified and their personal value drivers learned? Is it clear what type of involvement is needed from stakeholders to make the transformation happen over time to maintain their engagement and build their support? Have a variety of top agents been identified and rallied to be active contributors to all aspects of executing the transformation, such as planning, communications, engagement, execution, monitoring, etc.? Are they treated like the innovating group of change agents they are acting as?
Are executives incorporating messages into their hour-by-hour activities? Are the right people receiving the right messages via the right channels at the right times? Are influential leaders reflecting the transformation through their words and actions? Are communications for this change striving for candid, interactive and face-to-face messaging?
Have those who will be most affected by the changes been asked about obstacles to success? To avoid creating a sense of injustice and disengagement, has fairness been included as a design principle in workforce reduction plans? Are local level change agents and leaders ready to be included? To swiftly remove obstacles during implementation, have “Barrier Busting Circles” been formed on the ground? To facilitate problem solving, is feedback on these barriers sharing regularly with the Guiding Coalition?
Considering your business strategy, are you actively and thoughtfully identifying and cultivating a desired culture that supports your vision? Are you delivering new skills training while actively and thoughtfully shifting underlying mindsets? To cultivate a new culture, are you maintaining a focus on leaders modeling desired behaviors?
Have competencies and skills been assessed and upgraded? Is a new way of working being enabled by processes being assessed and modified? Do new hires reflect your desired culture as your leadership undergoes its transformation?
Is your leadership prepared to lead people through change? Are your key leaders and senior managers experienced in change?
At Stefanini, we transform leadership by being technological disruptors, co-creators and creative thinkers. Interested in learning about the ways you can enact leadership transformation at your company?
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