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4 Characteristics of Transformational Leadership

What Leadership Style is the Best in Motivating Your Employees During a Pandemic?

by Angeline Licerio

The current coronavirus pandemic has brought exponential changes that no one ever imagined. Leaders are technically prepared for the worst in their field of work, but this life-changing crisis surprised everyone. During this period a ‘new normal’ has emerged and leadership faces huge and real challenges. Leaders of today need to harness the benefits of leadership training they had in the past and find the most effective style to lead their teams. They are called to act with agility and empathy, helping everyone accept the changes with an open mind and a positive attitude.

Common leadership styles

A quick look at the common styles of leadership reveals that there are seven types of leaders. They are:

  • Autocratic. It is the most rigid style where leaders make fast decisions and execute necessary actions.
  • Democratic. The style involves everyone, with committees to decide about the vital issues.
  • Charismatic. Leaders have a lot of charisma that they use to inspire and influence people. They make them believe in their vision.
  • Supportive. Leaders support, coach, and provide their employees with the necessary training or opportunities to succeed.
  • Laissez-faire. This style offers more autonomy to the team members. They allow team members to resolve their respective work issues.
  • Transactional. It provides well-defined roles and structures that allow a smooth progression of employees.
  • Transformational. This type of leadership is focused on keeping people productive by motivating them to work harder. 

The best approach: Transformational leadership

Under the new circumstances where leaders face a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, the best leadership style is transformational. In essence and context, transformational leadership is about driving the organisation forward, finding opportunities to thrive, and encouraging people to focus on working hard to reap success amidst uncertain times.

It is based on assumptions that employees follow and support leaders with a clear vision, drive, and passion. Transformational leaders are deeply committed to the company’s missions, seeking breakthroughs to keep the organisation moving forward and thriving despite the odds.

However, this style differs from one business to business or organisation to another.  Different models emerged after James Downton established transformational leadership in 1973. One of the models was developed by Bernard Bass. He set the following characteristic hallmarks of transformational leaders: 

  • Promotes motivation and self-development
  • Places importance on moral standards
  • Encourages team-focused mindset
  • Adapts a communal sense of ethical responsibility
  • Provides resources for mentoring and advice and a sense of autonomy to employees, letting them make decisions to bring positive self-growth
  • Sets out clear values of honesty, adaptability, originality, and communication 

The bottom line is that a transformational leadership style means consistently committing to achieving the company’s general objectives and goals. It means adopting innovative ways to encourage self-growth and ultimately, organizational growth. It also entails optimising the potentials of team members and maximising the benefits of leadership training that they attended in the past. 

Ways transformational leaders motivate employees 

1.Speak the future 

Words are an incredibly powerful motivator. They can be used to change people’s mindset, allowing leaders and managers to connect deeply with their staff. When leaders speak with confidence, sincerity, and transparency, employees become more confident about the future. They allow themselves to discard a fear-based mindset and accept the changes. 

By boldly speaking shared purpose and goals, leaders are committing to do things differently and prioritising organisational growth and functional capability. They are poised to sustain excellent performance to ensure that their companies survive and thrive and adapt to the changes in the market and business trends. 

2.Create a positive and learning work culture 

Workers become more motivated and productive in the working environment that promotes positivity and transparency. Transformational leaders believe in welcoming new ideas. They let employees share their opinions and suggestions. Making workers feel that they are part of the team, and respecting their voices helps establish a strong foundation. It generates trust, improves performance, sparks innovation, and helps in attaining collective outputs. 

Providing skills training or enhancing the basic knowledge of workers as the company adapts to the new normal of digital transformation and work-from-home set-up is necessary. Constant communication is another key factor in creating a healthy work culture. Allowing humor and laughter to pervade the environment also helps a lot, making the tasks seem lighter. 

3.Build a value-creating team 

Transformational leadership during this pandemic matters more than ever. It is the pivotal force that pushes the organisation to adapt well in the increasingly competitive and fast-changing world. Leaders in this new normal are expected to overcome obstacles and lead with clarity and empathy. The uncertainty of the future requires a value-creating team that will work together to achieve the purpose and goals that may or may not change due to the circumstances of the new normal. 

While the context of leadership and management changes, the organizational objectives and missions do not change. They serve as the foundation of high-performance companies. Utilizing the appropriate approach to keep the team engaged, motivated, and productive is the only way to fuel deep commitment. Skills training and continuous learning are necessary to ensure valuable outputs. 

4. Lead by example- respond, recover, and thrive 

To become influential leaders of tomorrow, it is essential to understand that any crisis has three characteristics- it demands a response. It brings unprecedented impact, and it tends to unfold in a surprising, unordered fashion.

Transformational leaders display the skills to address the situations and sustain continuity. They learn the trades and review all the circumstances, using previous learnings and benefits of leadership training as they navigate through this VUCA world. They quickly recover from the surprising events of the new normal and emerge stronger. Lastly, they are more prepared to thrive and shape the “new normal” work culture.

By responding to the uncertainties with a positive mindset, transformational leaders inspire their employees, stakeholders, and clients to embrace the changes. As they reinvent themselves by setting new benchmarks and raising expectations on the innovations that define the ‘new normal’, these leaders become market shapers in the industry.

Originally published on Gordon Tredgold. Angeline Licerio is a content writer for Elevate Corporate Training, a team of corporate trainers committed to improving the performance of individuals and teams within organisations.  

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