Successfully inspiring and leading people through change
Transformational leadership theories are based on the idea of some form of collaborative greater good...
“...when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and the mission of the group and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group”. [Bernard Bass 1990]
Bass took the perspective that they transform their followers by:
- Building an awareness of the value and importance of tasks
- Focusing their minds on group objectives rather than just personal interests
- Appealing to and activating their aspirational needs
Integrity and consistency required
In my opinion and based on my experiences I feel that of all the leadership theories, Transformational Leadership is particularly relevant to successful change management - especially in situations of major change.
This leadership style is often seen in military commanders and wartime prime ministers.
It requires absolute integrity and personal behaviour that is consistent and resonant with your vision and message.
I can recall a ridiculous situation, at one UK company I was involved with, where the directors were attempting to effect a culture change of greater inter-departmental trust and communication yet still retained a separate directors dining room and specially allocated car parking places closest to the office front door! Have you ever had a similar experience?
Leaders focus on change or transition
Transformational leadership is about consciousness-raising on a wide plane according to James Burns Macgregor: "The leader’s fundamental act is to induce people to be aware or conscious of what they feel - to feel their true needs so strongly, to define their values so meaningfully, that they can be moved to purposeful action."
For this to be possible, the leader needs to take account of the impact of change on their people and especially the transitions that they have to move through if the change is to be successful.
William Bridges focuses on transitions and the psychological changes that lie behind behind significant organisational change.
He maintains that the situational changes are not as difficult for companies to make as the psychological transitions of the people impacted by the change.
So many organisational changes fail because leaders pay attention to the changes they are facing instead of the transitions people must make to accomodate them.
These emotional and psychological stages of transition are very well illustrated in the roller coaster of change.
Working successfully with the energy of change
The Transformational approach also depends on winning the trust of people - which is made possible by the unconscious assumption that they too will be changed or transformed in some way by following the leader.
An example of this would be the way in which Lady Thatcher - as Prime Minister of the UK Government during the Falklands War in 1982 - was able to engender an enhanced feeling of British national identity amongst the UK population.
At times of organisational change, and especially step change, people feel insecure, anxious and low in energy. It is the responsibility of the director leading the change to supply an infusion of positive energy. This is even more necessary during the current economic climate.
The benefits of transformational leadership
Dr. Olga Epitropaki of the Institute of Work Psychology at University of Sheffield has published a short article outlining the benefits and importance of transformational leaders and also reports on how these leadership characteristics are being successfully taught to managers.
Authentic Transformational leadership [© ThinqGlobal White Paper]
For a more detail and further resource check out Richard Cox's excellent site www.transformationalleadership.net
Here is an excellent report that Richard has made available: Transformational Leadership Theory Report
8 FREE Introductory Lessons from Practitioners Masterclass - HERE
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