Becoming a transformational leader can seem intimidating. It can seem like something you are either born to be or not. In reality it all starts with getting your daily steps in. Sometimes called “management by walking around” as described in the Tom Peters and Bob Waterman 1982 bestseller In Search of Excellence.
An article in one of my favorite resources for leaders, the website MindTools: Essential skills for an excellent career, highlights how to connect with your people and build the relationships that lead to transformational work by getting your steps in!
“Management by wandering around” does require more than just aimless chatting or random office visits. MindTools encourages leaders to:
- Relax – take a deep breath, calm your mind and make it easy for people to be open with you.
- Listen and Observe – take the time to understand your people and demonstrate genuine interest in their perspective.
- Be Inclusive – wander everywhere, strategically plan to connect with your whole team.
- Recognize Good Work – encourage people to share what they are proud of and give specific compliments.
- Spread the Word – share what you hear with others and share what you know about the work being done.
- Embrace Chat – learn more about people’s non-work interests and lives. Demonstrate that you are aware they are more than just what they do at work.
- Don’t Overdo It – don’t hover over people or become a distraction.
- Review Your Conversations – assess what you have learned, take action and solve problems.
Transformational leaders know their people and know their work.
One of the four I’s in the Bass model is Intellectual Stimulation. Bass says that transformational leaders involve followers in working through problems and encourage them to find innovative solutions.
While this makes sense, it’s not always easy to do. I’ve worked with many leaders that have a very difficult time letting people do things in new or different ways. An important question is to ask “are they doing it wrong, or are they just doing it differently?”
If someone’s approach is going to yield the needed results, within an appropriate time and budget, give them the autonomy to proceed and help them evaluate the new process. You may find that it’s an improvement.
But what if it’s not better? I worked with a department that saved a lot of time by skipping several unnecessary process steps. Or at least it was working until it was time for the annual report to the regulatory agency. Suddenly those steps were critical and there was a lot of work to re-create them.
When considering intellectual stimulation, ask yourself these questions:
- Do they clearly understand the goals and boundaries of the problem?
- How can I help them see the big picture?
- How can I encourage them to generate creative solutions and support their efforts to try new things?
- What assumptions may be getting in the way?
- What barriers can I eliminate?
How did it feel when one of your leaders challenged you in this way? How can you provide that for others?
Dee Anne Bonebright
It takes more than saying the right things to be a transformational leader; you have to do the right things! And that takes work.
Through their work transformational leaders demonstrate Idealized Influence, the first of the 4 I’s that Anita described in her post on Monday. Just like the lead biker in a team time trial, they don’t just have a powerful message or good ideas. They lead by example. They are the type of leader who isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work along side you.
In fact, through their actions they become such a positive role model that people are inspired to follow. The following actions or behaviors are often listed when people describe a transformational leader. They:
- Walk the talk
- Would never ask you to do something they wouldn’t do
- Stay true to their values without worrying about outside opinions
- Spread enthusiasm and integrity
- Provide real-life examples through their actions
- Take personal risks when it is the right thing to do
- Inspire through action
Becoming a more transformational leader is a lot of work, but the trust and engagement you build can set the stage for success.
Posted in building teams, Engagement, Leadership, leadership development, leading authentically, Motivation
Tagged engagement, integrity, Leadership, leadership development, motivation, transformational change, transparency, trust, values
Devinder Malhotra, the new interim chancellor for Minnesota State, has stated that there has never been a better moment in time for our leaders to make a profound difference. Due to the challenges we face, the complexity of a system of colleges and universities, and the incredible difference our schools can make in the lives of the people of Minnesota, now is the time to be a leader.
One type of leadership Malhotra was highlighting is defined by Bernard Bass in his groundbreaking book, Transformational Leadership. Transformational leadership works well in exceedingly complex organizations made up of diverse and challenging work groups that need to feel empowered to succeed in times of great uncertainty. Sound familiar?
Transformational leadership is best recognized by the impact it has on people in the organization. This type of leadership causes people to trust, respect, and even admire, their leaders. Transformational leaders:
- Hold positive expectations for their people and show their people that they believe they will succeed.
- Focus on and demonstrate that they care about their people’s personal and professional development.
Can you picture the leaders who have made a difference in your life through their transformational leadership?
Posted in building teams, Engagement, higher education, integrity, Leadership, mission and vision, trust
Tagged engagement, higher education, integrity, Leadership, transformational change
Ok, I admit it. This post is a day late. I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday night watching the presidential electoral college vote results and the commentators trying to explain how all the predictions were wrong. Then on Wednesday, more analysis and exploration of what happened. I promise, this will not be a political post, but the election of president-elect Trump highlights how hard it is to predict the future! And we have a long history of getting predictions wrong.
So, how do leaders build organizational capacity to meet future challenges when it is so hard to see what will happen in the future?
Gary Hamel encourages leaders in his book What Matters Now (2012) – to go back to the basics and focus on values to prepare for an uncertain future. He lists the following as “pivotal, overarching concerns” for leaders:
- Values – act as a steward and take actions that demonstrate concern for your people and organization.
- Innovation – provide opportunities for all your people to contribute their ideas to meet your customers’ needs.
- Adaptability – “future-proof” your company by relentlessly pushing for internal change to match external changes. Hamel stresses the need to “seek out the most discomforting facts you can find and share them with everyone in your organization.”
- Passion – clearly demonstrate that your people are affecting the outside world with their work. Highlight the importance of each and every person’s day-to-day work.
- Ideology – examine, discuss and challenge the status quo. Make it safe for people to express their opinions and concerns.
We may mess up predicting the future but Hamel implores leaders to speak up for “the good, the just and the beautiful” to better prepare for the uncertainty ahead.
The following link provides a detailed summary of What Matters Now.
Posted in build organizational talent, building teams, change and transition, Developing Capacity, Engagement, integrity, Leadership, leading authentically, stewardship, stewardship
Tagged Change, engagement, innovation, integrity, Leadership, organizational culture, stewardship, values
If the people on your team have to ask “Where is the meaning in my work?” something is wrong!
In his book Meaning, Inc. , Gurnek Bains ecourages leaders to bring the organization’s mission and vision to life through meaningful work. Between actual work time and digital connections people spend over half of their waking hours “at work.” Understanding how those work activities are making a contribution to customers (students at Minnesota State), the community or larger society will make work more meaningful.
While each person on your team has their own personal values and beliefs about what is important, there are actions that leaders can take to strengthen meaning at work. Bains identifies the following leadership activities that help create more meaningful work:
- Discussing and supporting personal stretch goals that are related to the vision.
- Focusing on the unique strengths and talents that each person brings to work.
- Documenting, evaluating, providing feedback and highlighting each person’s work and contribution to group efforts.
- Clearly linking individual and team work activities and accomplishments to wider issues.
- Ensuring that short-term goals don’t conflict with the deeper organizational purpose.
- Role modeling stated ideals.
Making sure your people know the difference their work makes in the lives of other people builds meaning. And meaning is powerful.
Posted in common good, communication, Engagement, higher education, Leadership, leading authentically, mission and vision, Motivation
Tagged communication, engagement, higher education, integrity, Leadership, motivation, organizational culture, stakeholders, values, vision
Last week at our New Administrator Orientation program Chancellor Steven Rosenstone shared his passion for why he comes to work each day and clearly articulated why the work we all do is important.
He spoke about the shared common core value that our colleges and universities are focused on: providing an opportunity for all Minnesotans to create a better future for themselves. He reminded us that our work as leaders is crucial to ensuring that our colleges and universities meet that challenge and that is why we do what we do. His passion was evident and it was infectious!
Author James R Lucas in his book, The Passionate Organization: Igniting the Fire of Employee Commitment, suggests that articulating and sharing your organizational vision with passion helps guide and focus the work people do and enhance commitment. This requires a vision that has two key components:
- What is your organization’s purpose – the strategic vision. The what and how of your organization.
- What are your organization’s values – the cultural vision. This is the element that is often missing or not communicated by leaders. It is the why of your organization.
Passion is expressed when you focus on making a difference and clearly articulate how people’s day to day work contributes directly to the shared values of your organization.
Yes, passion does belong at work!
Posted in building teams, communication, Engagement, Leadership, leading authentically, Motivation
Tagged communication, engagement, higher education, Leadership, organizational culture, values, vision