THERE is this notable quote from the famous Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu: "To lead people, walk behind them." Leaders, when taking responsibility, need to make sure that they can empower others around them with information, education, resources and tools. Leaders who seek the limelight and make themselves the hero may save the day in the short run but fail to create long-term organizational sustainability.
Transformational leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles in today's competitive business environment, where vision, clarity, commitment, innovation, creativity, motivation, among others, are highly sought by an organization from a leader toward team members. It is also an approach that focuses on inspiring and motivating followers to achieve their full potential and exceed their expectations. This leadership style is often associated with creating significant and positive changes within an organization or team.
Some notable scholars in transformational leadership include James MacGregor Burns and Bernard M. Bass, who developed and expanded on the concept. Burns was a leadership expert and proposed that it was only through the strength of the vision and personality of the leader that team members could be encouraged to follow. After agreeing to follow, members are then inspired to change their expectations and perceptions, and are invited to a higher level of morality and motivation.
A few years later, Bass added even more to the concept. This is known as "Bass' Transformational Leadership Theory." Bass added ways to measure and rank the success of transformational leadership as well as the idea of leaders expressing authentic and focused energy to inspire other team members to become more like them.
Here are some key characteristics and concepts related to transformational leadership:
Charisma. Transformational leaders are often charismatic and able to inspire and influence their followers through their compelling vision and personal magnetism.
Vision. They have a clear and compelling vision for the future and communicate this vision to their followers, helping them understand the larger purpose and goals of the organization.
Inspiration. Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their followers by setting high standards and expectations. They encourage their team members to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
Intellectual stimulation. They encourage intellectual growth and creativity among their followers. They challenge the status quo, encourage critical thinking and promote a culture of continuous learning.
Individualized consideration. Transformational leaders pay individual attention to their team members' needs and provide personalized support and coaching. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and help them develop and grow.
Empowerment. These leaders empower their followers by delegating authority and decision-making, giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility in their work. Making your team members accountable for actions that they choose is a sign of acceptance of responsibility for one's actions.
Positive role modeling. Transformational leaders lead by example, demonstrating the values and behaviors they expect from their team members. They are often seen as ethical and trustworthy.
Change agents. Transformational leaders are often associated with driving significant organizational change. They are willing to challenge the status quo and take calculated risks to achieve their vision.
Relationship-oriented. They build strong relationships with their team members based on trust, respect and empathy. This helps create a supportive and collaborative work environment.
Long-term focus. Transformational leadership is not just about short-term results but also about building a sustainable and enduring organizational culture that fosters growth and development. It is about trusting the process. Long-term results will not be achieved with just a single snap.
Transformational leadership is often contrasted with transactional leadership, where leaders focus on more routine tasks, rewards and punishments to motivate their followers.
In summary, transformational leadership is a powerful approach that aims to inspire and empower followers to achieve remarkable results, foster innovation and drive positive organizational change. To manage is the process of defining and measuring success. Managers control and deploy resources to solve problems. Managers plan budgets and organize staff. They produce order, predictability and expected results by stakeholders. Leaders, on the other hand, provide the vision, align individuals with the vision, and motivate and inspire change. As one of the well-renowned American businessmen, Henry Ross Perot Sr., once said, "Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be led."
How about you? Do you lead, or do you manage?
Ken John B. Asadon, CPA, CTT, is the tax partner of Paguio, Dumayas and Associates, CPAs (PrimeGlobal Philippines), an institutional member of the Association of CPAs in Public Practice (Acpapp). The opinion of the writer does not reflect in any way the opinion of these institutions.