If you ask any historian to name the greatest leaders in western civilization, there's a good chance the 16th president of the United States will make the list. He willed his country to victory in the gut-wrenching Civil War, issued the Emancipation Proclamation and facilitated the eventual ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.
A number of traits contributed to Abraham Lincoln's greatness. He possessed a brilliant intellect. He had an uncommon amount of common sense. He was a thinker, someone who philosophically examined the world and crafted a rationalized set of personal beliefs by which he steadfastly lived.
While he was blessed with many talents, Lincoln's greatest attribute may have been his ability to communicate. He was a skilled orator who eloquently wrote many of his own speeches. He listened sincerely when others spoke. He empathized. He mastered the art of interpersonal communications several decades before the term "interpersonal communications" was coined.
It wouldn't be a stretch to credit Lincoln as one of history's greatest communicators. But of all the communications techniques he so successfully employed, there was one where he especially shone.
Abraham Lincoln was a remarkable storyteller.
Lincoln succeeded under some of the most difficult leadership conditions any U.S. president has had to face. To communicate is such times, he often resorted to stories. Instead of berating the incompetent generals who blundered in the Civil War's early battles, Lincoln educated and motivated them by using stories. To smooth over ruffled political feathers with members of Congress, Lincoln would pull out a story and use it to establish common ground.
Among history's eminent leaders, however, Lincoln was not unique in his reliance upon stories. Political leaders throughout the ages have moved the masses by using stories to communicate their political platforms. In modern days, big-time CEOs use storytelling to mobilize international staffs in the quest for billions of dollars of profit. Jesus Christ himself used parables and story-based lessons to enlighten his disciples.
Indeed, stories pack a punch. They're powerful. They paint pictures. They work, because our human brains are conditioned to listen to and be receptive to stories. Long before the written word, and long before Gutenberg invented the printing press, people used stories to communicate histories and traditions as well as norms and expectations. In other words, our ancestors sat around the fire every night and told stories. The propensity to tell and listen to stories is essentially a part of our DNA.
So, if people are so receptive to storytelling, you and I would be foolish not to use stories in our work. Good storytellers tend to be effective leaders and successful salespersons. If you manage people, teach them and motivate them by conveying important information through stories. If you sell products and services, use a story to paint a picture in your prospect's mind. By making the product or service part of a story, prospective clients mentally project themselves into the story. Once someone makes that kind of psychological commitment, they're much more likely to buy.
Let's say we asked the same prospective client to sit through two sales presentations for competing products. Both salespersons touched on features and benefits. Salesperson One was very straightforward and focused on delivering factual content. Salesperson Two was accurate but explained the features and benefits using stories. A couple of the stories were about previous clients who enjoyed positive results from using the product. I guarantee the second salesperson has a higher likelihood of landing the client.
One of the most important skills in sales is the ability to overcome objections. Well, if you get an objection, tell a story to keep the deal alive. Are you ready to deliver your close? Make it more desirable by couching it inside a story. Has the process become mired? Advance it by telling a story.
Whether you are managing a staff, selling a service, delivering a speech, trying to persuade voters to elect you or attempting to resolve a conflict between two of your colleagues, make it easier by spinning a yarn. Stories reassure people and disarm them.
As you make a commitment to including more stories in your daily work, keep a couple things in mind:
1. Stories must be relative to the situation at hand.
2. Know when to shut up. If a story goes on too long, it loses its effectiveness
3. Think about the work you do and determine what kinds of stories could be effective in certain situations.
4. Catalog stories in your mind. Look back on your own experiences as well as the experiences of your colleagues. Make a list of stories to have at your disposal, so you can use them whenever it's expedient.
Every product, service, business and person has a story, probably multiple stories. The trick is to pull out these stories and use them to your benefit at the appropriate times. After all, if President Lincoln used stories to save a country, we would be wise to use them to save our businesses and careers.
About the author:
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.You can learn more and follow his "Business Motivation Blog" at www.JeffBeals.com
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
If you ask any historian to name the greatest leaders in western civilization, there's a good chance the 16th president of the United States will make the list. He willed his country to victory in the gut-wrenching Civil War, issued the Emancipation Proclamation and facilitated the eventual ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. A number of traJeff Beals Articles
The demands on leaders can be many and they are often pulled in multiple directions at once. Having employees that work for you helps you to get things done and takes some of the burden off, but it also brings with it a great responsibility and new set of expectations and needs. Employees need things from their leaders and it is not just more work.
Here are six things that I believe all employees need their leaders to be.
Everyone wants to know where they stand and how they are doing. If things are great sing their praises; if things aren’t great let them know. No one likes surprises and or wants to have to guess. Feedback is an ongoing activity not just a once a year activity that occurs with annual reviews or when there are complaints.
You may not be able to tell your employees everything but be as honest and transparent as you can and if you can’t share information let them know why. Why goes a long way.
Going hand in hand with honesty you need to be a communicator and able to provide feedback, information and direction. Employees want to know what is going on, what is coming up, what to expect and what is expected of them. Information is everything and no one wants to feel like they are in the dark.
Obviously you have to be committed to the business and organizations goals but it doesn’t end there; you have to be committed to your team and people individually.
You have to set the direction for your team and be committed to it while balancing the goals of the organization and aspirations of your team members all while being committed to helping them achieve them.
The workplace can easily become negative. Remember we spend more time with the people we work with than our own family so there is bound to be some strife. Work can also be hard, that is why it is called work.
Deadlines, demands and sheer volume will take its toll. You need to remember that your employees are people; they have lives outside of the office and no matter how we all try to separate the two, when things are hard in our personal lives it makes it hard in our professional life as well. Try to know and understand what your employees are faced with and potentially going through.
The key is to be able to take a positive approach to working through things and not letting negativity permeate the workplace.
Employees want you to be confident; even if you don’t feel confident you need to project confidence. Knowing that the person at the helm can steer the ship or at least believes they can, instills confidence in the crew. Everyone knows leaders don’t have all the answers and can’t solve all the problems but if they know you have the confidence to try and find the answers and help solve the problems it will instill confidence in them. This leads us to the last thing on my list.
We all want to be inspired but inspiration does not always come easy; a fire needs a spark. We all have to do those things that we would rather not do, but what makes that easier knowing you get to do the things you really enjoy.
Find out what your employee’s strengths are then leverage them. Also find out what their goals and aspirations are, encourage them and help them however you can. Take a genuine interest in them beyond just being their boss. No one wants to feel like they are just a means to an end.
Finally remember that your employees are always looking at the way you handle things and how you lead. Let your leadership be inspirational because you may be helping to create future leaders.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The demands on leaders can be many and they are often pulled in multiple directions at once. Having employees that work for you helps you to get things done and takes some of the burden off, but it also brings with it a great responsibility and new set of expectations and needs. Employees need things from their leaders and it is not just more work. Here are six thingsAnthony T. Eaton Articles
Many managers believe that it is enough to show up and be seen, but then this is why I refer to them as managers and not leaders. Leadership require more than just showing up, it requires engagement; but if a manager doesn’t know what engagement looks like chances are they are missing opportunities to move from manager to leader.
In a recent GALLUP article by Randall Beck and Jim Harter, they state that only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged and cite managers for being the primary cause. While every manager may not be a great leader it would be remiss to assume they don’t want to be and it is more likely that they don’t know how to be a great leader.
So what is a manager to do? Here are 5 simple things they can start doing right away to be more engaged.
1. Say good morning. When is the last time you walked around and said good morning to all of your employees? It seems simple, and it is, yet many leaders come in and head straight for their office. If you can do it every day great, if not, try for once a week. If you say “Good morning, have a great day.” It will have an amazing effect on your employees.
2. Recognize and Compliment. Don’t assume your employees know they are doing a good job; tell them! Look for opportunities to recognize the contributions your employees make to the organization and not just the big ones, the small ones count too. Remember, no news is not always good news.
3. Meet one on one. If there is one thing you need to start doing if you’re not already is to meet with your employee’s one on one. Have them schedule 15-30 minutes with you weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Make the time about them, not you by always asking questions like: What are you working on; what are your roadblocks, what can I do for you; what should I stop doing.
4. Walk around and ask questions. I don’t mean “what are you working on” or “what the status of X project is”, ask questions to make a personal connection. “How was your weekend ”,“How are your kids/spouse/significant other”. Leaders need to be seen and that lends itself to making personal connections with your employees. As with number one, you may not be able to do it every day but you should do it at least once a week. Put it on your calendar.
5. Listen more, talk less. You cannot speak and listen at the same time, listening takes effort and focus. Apply this to 1-4 and you will be well on your way to better engagement with your employees.
Remember that if you want to have engaged employees you have to be an engaged leader. The more engaged you are with them, the more engaged they will be and the less likely they are to leave you and the organization.
*Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Many managers believe that it is enough to show up and be seen, but then this is why I refer to them as managers and not leaders. Leadership require more than just showing up, it requires engagement; but if a manager doesn’t know what engagement looks like chances are they are missing opportunities to move from manager to leader. In a recentAnthony T. Eaton Articles Employee relations
Abraham Lincoln had an uncanny ability to predict behavior. For example, when Lincoln was President, he told one of his associates how every member of Congress would vote on a particular bill. To make the point, he wrote down what their votes would be. Sure enough, when the votes were tallied, Lincoln was on target for virtually every vote cast.
How did he do this?
No magic or superhuman powers were involved. Lincoln used resources that are within the reach of anyone, and with a bit of practice, you can use them effectively, too.
In general, behavior can be predicted in terms of a person's interests, group identity, character, and unconscious needs. Entire books have been written on this subject, but here's a brief overview:
1. Interests. Interests have to do with one's own benefit or advantage; the focus is on the basic question, "What's in this for me?" If you're trying to predict a person's (or a group's) behavior, evaluate whether they will experience profit or loss, pleasure or pain from the outcome. Lincoln dealt mainly with politicians and lawyers, who habitually make these kinds of calculations. However, this approach is not foolproof because humans are more than human calculators. People sometimes behave irrationally--that is, they do not behave in their own best interests. So, you will have to include more than interests to become good at predictions.
2. Group Identity. What groups do the individuals belong to or identify with? Do they think of themselves as Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, independents, Christians, gang members, labor or management? Sociologists call this "reference-group behavior." Ralph Waldo Emerson, a contemporary of Lincoln whose work Lincoln knew about, wrote: "If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument." Lincoln certainly took political affiliation (i.e. "sect") into the aforementioned calculation. You can see this principle at work by looking at the party affiliation of the votes that are cast for particular bills in Congress. Whenever there is a deviation from sect affiliation, the decision will usually be based on interests.
3. Unconscious Needs. Sigmund Freud discovered that behavior is sometimes neither rational nor irrational, but arational. Lincoln, of course, lived long before Freud, and did not use this concept as such in his predictions. But if you want to become a skillful forecaster, be aware that some behavior will seem to come out of nowhere. The source may be memories of experiences that are buried deep in the individual's unconscious mind--buried, but not dead.
4. Character. Is the individual basically honest or dishonest, industrious or an idler, kind or a bully? An honest man may yield to temptation, but a dishonest man will look for it. An industrious man will take pride in his work. An idler will take pride in avoiding it. A kind man may be unkind, but regret it; a bully will be unkind and enjoy it.
Simply put, character is a blend of genetics and deeply rooted habits. Emerson wrote: "I suppose no man can violate his nature….A character is like an acrostic or Alexandrian stanza; read it forward, backward, or across, it still spells the same thing."
Lincoln's character was well known. Lincoln was Honest Abe. He got this name because people learned that if you dealt with Lincoln, he would not deceive you or cheat you.
If you want to predict behavior, do what Lincoln did, and observe carefully to see if the person is basically honest or deceitful, a giver or a taker, diligent or careless. Once you understand a person's character, you will seldom be surprised by their behavior.
One quick story about character. Once there was a scorpion that wanted to cross a river. Seeing a frog, the scorpion asked the frog if he could ride on his back across the river.
"I can't do that," replied the frog, "because if you rode on my back, you would sting me and I would die."
"Why would I sting you?" answered the scorpion. "It is not in my best interest to sting you. If I stung you, we would both drown."
"That's true," said the frog, who then allowed the scorpion to climb on his back.
In the middle of the river, the frog felt a sharp sting in his back.
"Why have you stung me," screamed the frog in pain. "It is not in your best interest to sting me."
Replied the scorpion: "Because it is my nature to sting. You knew what I was when you let me ride on your back."
About the author:
Gene Griessman is a professional speaker, executive coach, and author of The Words Lincoln Lived By and co-author of Lincoln Speaks To Leaders: 20 Powerful Lessons From America's 16th President, with Pat Williams and Peggy Matthews Rose. Griessman's website is http://www.presidentlincoln.com.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Abraham Lincoln had an uncanny ability to predict behavior. For example, when Lincoln was President, he told one of his associates how every member of Congress would vote on a particular bill. To make the point, he wrote down what their votes would be. Sure enough, when the votes were tallied, Lincoln was on target for virtually every vote cast.Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Articles
Leadership is about the way you perceive and treat yourself and how you perceive and treat others. Personal leadership involves the former; social and organizational leadership involves the latter. The two are interrelated.
Each of us has a unique, complex “thinking system” which has developed since birth. This complex system is believed to actually be a composite of several more fundamental thinking systems layered one on top of the other. Our “worldview” is the totality of our conception of what this complex, fragmented world is like. Our worldview is a composite of our cognitive style, genetic makeup, memory, mental models or paradigms, assumptions, vision of the future, and the fusion of factual and value premises. Our personal worldview plays a major role in determining outcomes in our personal lives. Our collective worldview plays a major role in determining outcomes in our organizations and institutions. This is often described as the “See-Do-Get” cycle. How we “see the world” determines “what we do,” and “what we do” determines “what we get” as an outcome.
Dr. Stephen Covey states that all things are created twice. There is a “first creation,” which is of the mind, and a “second creation,” which is the physical manifestation of the first creation. For instance, a blueprint is the first creation and the building is the second creation. Our attitudes and behaviors flow from our worldview.
Each of us filters the information we receive about the world through our worldview to determine what we consider truth. Our personal worldview will change and become more complex as we grow older and mature. Collective worldviews can follow the same pattern of maturation. (Albert Einstein understood this when he observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”)
Our worldview is our mind’s way of dealing with what Dr. Michael Armour calls the “Four Big C’s”: Change, Complexity, Confusion, and Conflict. As we grow older, and our worldview can no longer sufficiently cope with the four C’s, we may experience a paradigm shift to a higher system of thinking. The mind activates more complex systems of thinking to cope with new problems. Rather than totally replacing our old worldview with a new one, we actually integrate parts of our old worldview with the new.
The perception you have of yourself is part of your worldview. It involves such issues as your personal accountability, values that matter most to you, your personal mission in life, and the importance of self-discipline. It also defines what you must do to hedge against leading an inconsequential life.
The answer to important life issues will depend on your maturity level. It is generally recognized that lower levels of maturity exhibit extremely self-serving worldviews. The worldview of an infant, for example, is totally self-centered. The end result of an infant’s worldview is a life consisting of a series of short-term reactions to physiological needs (such as nourishment, warmth, etc.). As the maturity of an individual increases, there is a shift from reactivity to proactivity. Proactivity means that our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. (Dr. Stephen Covey’s Habit 1 deals with this thoroughly.) Higher levels of maturity demonstrate consideration for others and self-sacrifice.
Different people stop reconstructing their worldview at different maturity levels, thus creating the incredible diversity of thought we see in our world today. We must understand that there are no “right” or “wrong” worldviews. Each of us has a unique worldview. However, there are similar worldview patterns that result in similar pursuits and standards of conduct.
Since our worldview determines how we lead others and ourselves, there is also a great deal of diversity of thought regarding leadership. Leadership models can be viewed along a continuum. At one end of the continuum the power model, with its authoritarian style, can be found. At this end of the continuum we find a top-down, command-and-control pyramid approach, with powerful decision-makers at the top. At the other end of the continuum is where we find servant leadership and similar leadership models. At this end of the continuum we find a worldview that sees the world as an interdependent reality where people are treated with respect in a totally egalitarian manner.
The purpose of the mission often determines the use of a given model. For instance, an authoritarian, command and control model of leadership may be very effective for stopping something, destroying something, or conquering something, such as an enemy during a war. The military has used the power leadership model for millennia very effectively. It is a leadership model that is hard-nosed and aggressive in style. The power model of leadership often involves the formation of privileged classes, strict hierarchy, turf protection, intimidation, and rank. Unfortunately, one can find many examples of the inappropriate use of this model of leadership today in corporations, government agencies, and churches. It is interesting to note that modern military organizations use a variety of leadership models to deal with the numerous complex roles they play in our modern world.
If the objective or mission is to build an organization dedicated to service (such as public service, customer service, or serving a congregation), empowerment, creativity, and the growth and maturing of individuals, then the power model of leadership is highly inappropriate. A leadership model based on a totally different system of thinking should be considered.
Our worldview determines our belief regarding whether the power model or servant leadership model is ever a legitimate approach. Our worldview also determines when we think it would be appropriate for us to use either model of leadership. Unfortunately, some worldviews see only one model as appropriate for all situations. As Abraham Maslow said, “He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.” Other worldviews acknowledge the servant leadership model as legitimate, but attempt to implement it using authoritarian and patriarchal methods. Addressing this problem, Peter Block states, “the very system that has patriarchy as the root problem uses patriarchal means to try to eliminate its symptoms. This is the dark side of leadership.”
The servant leadership model is not new. However, Robert Greenleaf, who died in 1990, is considered to be the father of modern servant leadership ideas that have recently grown in popularity. Greenleaf was a lifelong student of organization and retired as Director of Management Research at AT&T. He also held a joint appointment as visiting lecturer at M.I.T’s Sloan School of Management and at the Harvard Business School. In addition, he held teaching positions at both Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia.
Greenleaf said that servant leadership is about making the people around you to grow as persons, to be healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants. Servant leaders facilitate the growth of others along a maturity continuum—to greater and greater levels of maturity.
Although Robert Greenleaf is considered the father of the modern servant leadership model, no single perspective is complete. Rather than thinking of Greenleaf’s description of servant leadership as a single model, one might view it as a portal into a whole new universe of models based on certain fundamental principles. Other leadership thinkers such as Senge, Block, DePree, and Covey give us additional important insights into this universe.
Servant leadership manifests itself in different ways in different organizations. For instance, the fun-loving antics of Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com) probably would not fit the more conservative culture of a major financial organization like Synovus Financial Corporation (www.synovus.com). Yet both organizations base their organizational culture on the servant leadership principles articulated by Greenleaf. Both companies consistently appear in the Fortune “100 Best Companies To Work For” list, and both have been the number one company on the list (http://www.fortune.com/fortune/bestcompanies).
Some think that the servant leadership model is too soft and doesn’t recognize the political nature of organizations and institutions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where there is power there will always be politics. What the servant leadership model does is reshape the political environment so that political power is used to protect and build people, rather than keep them in a state of dependency. It deals with the reality of political power and its legitimate and ethical use. However, while protecting people from danger, servant leaders also expose them to a greater awareness of reality. That is why servant leadership can be so dangerous in some organizations. Challenging the power model of leadership is not just challenging a leadership style. It is challenging a worldview—a belief system—that provides control, consistency, and predictability to those in power.
John F. “Jack” Welch (www.ge.com/news/welch/index.htm), 20 year Chairman and CEO of General Electric, and one of the most highly regarded leaders in the business world today, once said that management is “looking reality straight in the eye and then acting upon it with as much speed as you can.” Robert Greenleaf said, “Awareness is not a giver of solace — it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own serenity.”
Servant leadership involves a mature worldview that chooses service over self-interest. Mature people recognize joint accountability. Achieving a high level of interdependence requires a culture where leaders listen first, and listen intently and for understanding. The job of the servant leader is to listen, to identify, and to clarify what the organization is saying. This level of listening requires more than just hearing. To the servant leader listening means a genuine willingness to be influenced by those you serve.
Servant leadership also involves developing an organizational culture that exhibits a high level of trust. Trust is dependent on having trustworthy people. Trustworthy people are principled and “walk their talk.” This is why personal leadership success precedes organizational leadership success. (Dr. Stephen Covey calls these two leadership successes the “private victory” and “public victory.” He says that private victories must precede public victories.) This “inside-out” approach is captured in the saying; “I cannot call myself your servant until I can call myself my master.” Self-mastery is essential for successful personal leadership. You cannot successfully lead others under the servant leadership model until you have first achieved a certain level of personal leadership mastery and internal synergy.
Practicing servant leadership within an organization means performing acts which help people remove the obstacles in their way—and helping them acquire the tools and resources they need to do their jobs better. It means jumping into the trenches and being willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. It means leading by example. It means lightening the load of another. It means being willing to do whatever you ask others to do. It means leveling hierarchies. It means not only being a boss, but also a friend. It means listening to those served to find out what they really need you to do for them, rather than deciding yourself what is best for them.
Just because one serves, and has a leadership position, does not make that person a true servant leader. Robert Greenleaf says that a true servant leader is servant first. Others may aspire first to become a leader and then to serve, or to aspire to serve in a manner that is patriarchal and controlling. However, a true servant leader is one that exhibits very specific characteristics. Larry Spears, Executive Director of The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership (www.greenleaf.org), has identified 10 critical characteristics that a servant leader should exhibit. These ten are by no means complete, but do communicate important aspects of this leadership model. The ten characteristics are:
9. Commitment to the growth of people
10. Building community
In describing servant leadership to another, it is recognized that the listener is always filtering and interpreting what is being said based on their current worldview. Truly understanding the servant leadership model may require a paradigm shift from old ways of thinking. It may require discarding old assumptions. It may require viewing the world differently. To accomplish this it will be necessary to be vulnerable, to listen for understanding, to respect differences in perspective, and to receive personal feedback from others. Only then will you be able to effectively examine and modify your assumptions, values, and paradigms–your worldview.
The servant leadership model cannot be achieved with a “quick-fix” approach. It cannot be instilled quickly within an organization. The transformation of the worldviews of individuals that make up an organization is a long-term, continuous effort. The decision to pursue the servant leadership model is certainly a matter of organizational strategy, but at its core it is a matter of personal choice. Is servant leadership a part of your worldview?
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About the author:
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Last year Dr. Baker taught an Honors Seminar at ULM, which included a field trip to the top servant leadership companies in America. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for seven years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Armour, Michael, and Browning, Don. Systems-Sensitive Leadership: Empowering Diversity Without Polarizing the Church. Joplin, Missouri: College Pres Publishing, 2000.
Barker, Joel. Paradigms, The Business of Discovering the Future. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
Block, Peter. Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993.
Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Covey, Stephen R. Principle-Centered Leadership. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
DePree, Max. Leadership Jazz. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Greenleaf, Robert K. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. New York: Paulist Press, 1977.
Rinehart, Stacy T. Upside Down: The Paradox of Servant Leadership. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998.
Senge, Peter. The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
Spears, Larry, editor. Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
Leadership is about the way you perceive and treat yourself and how you perceive and treat others. Personal leadership involves the former; social and organizational leadership involves the latter. The two are interrelated. Each of us has a unique, complex “thinking system” which has developed since birth. This complex system is believed to actually be a composite ofDr. J. Howard Baker Articles
To better comprehend the association between Leadership, Spirituality and Sense of Happiness or satisfaction with regards to the working environment, I propose the concept of visionary leadership which is broadly utilized as a part of contemporary discourse of leadership. Visionary Leadership can be identified as an inclination to see higher spiritual powers behind the occurrence of every other event. Visionary leaders look for a relationship of events with these spiritual forces. They may or may not find themselves to be involved in such events but they may believe in the idea of alignment of events with the transcendent forces.
Visionary leaders have the vitality, drive and determination to get things going and lead others do likewise. They have an inner motivation and the ambition to achieve big. They believe in their motivation and their capacity to think for big goals.
Some of the great world leaders including President George Washington and Winston Churchill mentioned the assistance they got from a ‘guiding hand’.
Winston Churchill said: “... we have a guardian because we serve a great cause, and we shall have that guardian as long as we serve that cause faithfully.”
It is reported that the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat had been visited by Mohammed who told him to maintain peace in the Middle East, which he sought after with determination.
Below are some of the quotes from famous business leaders regarding the idea of visionary leadership and its spiritual connection:
"A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there." — David Gergen
"The companies that survive longest are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world — not just growth or money, but their excellence, their respect for others or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul." — Charles Handy
"A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done." — Ralph Lauren
Visionary leaders comprehend that spirituality in the work environment setting is tied in with discovering the reason and meaning, past one's self, through the opportunities related to the work. Uncovering these purposes would incite significant sentiments of prosperity, a satisfying conviction that one's work makes an extraordinary or potentially noteworthy contribution.
It might empower a feeling of association with others. Visionary leadership is more than coordinating and directing the followers or people under the effect of leadership. Driving from inside is a method for concentrating on our internal knowing and our natural qualities and strengths. One way of releasing this rich source of knowledge can be by a plan of action to our strengths. Times of emergency and crisis may likewise prove to be the times of enlightenment with the potential for change and development. It may prove to be the time when we start to scrutinize our deeds, needs and the way we live and work.
Major life occasions which may be painful at times, for example, the loss of a friend or family member, separation of one's family, sickness or injury, may be perceived as opportunities as much as difficulties. Events like these, have a tendency to deliver a need to incite meaning, and the bits of knowledge that develop after it are vital to how we rise up out of them. In the similar context, encounters like near-death experience or such revelations may likewise have that power of such transformation. Visionary leaders may comprehend that with the end goal for them to ingrain a sense of meaning and satisfaction.
Following are the three kinds to happiness that we can experience as proposed by Martin Seligman (credited as the father of Positive Psychology):
1) pleasure and gratification,
2) embodiment of strengths and virtues and
3) meaning and purpose.
The "pleasurable and gratification" is what we encounter when we work on activities that makes us feel enjoyable, for example, purchasing of new things, recreational activities with our family members, sharing quality time with friends and family members or going out on holidays. The life of commitment and engagement is tied in with utilizing our qualities and strengths in the everyday events.
It may come through profound commitment in any action that one may find challenging, which could be a part of one's professional or family life. A life with a meaning is developed when we start utilizing our qualities for the goal of achieving something that is bigger than one's self.
"Meaning and Purpose" originates from serving others and may incorporate taking care of the family, helping other individuals, volunteering works, etc. Visionary leaders can help their supporters to these ways of attaining happiness or satisfaction, however the first path that is provided by Seligman can be accomplished outside the work environment and we, normally, know how to achieve it, while the second path has been a part of the work plan for more than 50 years. It is, however, with the third kind (meaning and purpose) with which the leaders may experiment by opening the opportunities to significant and meaningful work.
A manuscript studying more than 150 studies demonstrates that there is a similarity in relationship between spiritual values and leadership efficiencies. Qualities that have for quite some time been viewed as spiritual ideals, for example, empathy, meditation and contemplation, have been shown to be identified with success in leadership.
In a similar way, the practices that are traditionally been associated with the concept of spirituality, and are practiced in everyday life, for example, offering of prayers, etc. have been proposed to be associated with the effectiveness in leadership. In many spiritual practices, emphasis has been put on the application of beliefs like prayers, and it has also been found to be a part of crucial leadership skills including, gesture of respect for others, exhibiting equal or fair treatment, expression of concern, listening and recognizing the work done by others, etc. Spirituality may be utilized as a model or framework for organizational values. In the model being proposed here, the spiritual values may not exhibit an immediate co-relation but it can be perceived as something that enable a channel through which, the other values may found to be aligned.
About the Author:
Vedang R. Vatsa is an initiator and the one who get things done. He developed his skills and worked with some eminent clients on his own. He likes to travel far up to the mountains and deep down to the beaches with an aim to explore the mighty possibilities of reality. He loves to discuss ideas with people and appreciate an honest feedback.
Connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vedangvatsa/
To better comprehend the association between Leadership, Spirituality and Sense of Happiness or satisfaction with regards to the working environment, I propose the concept of visionary leadership which is broadly utilized as a part of contemporary discourse of leadership. Visionary Leadership can be identified as an inclination to see higher spiritual powers behind the occurrence of every otherVedang R. Vatsa Articles
One Leader's Perspective
The greatest complement I have ever read was directed toward Thomas Jefferson. President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a White House dinner given to honor Nobel Prize winners throughout the Western Hemisphere. Kennedy looked out over the distinguished guests and stated that they were “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Thomas Jefferson was an original American patriot. His personal views on individual freedom and religious liberty has greatly inspired many political leaders around the world for over 200 years. We typically think of Jefferson as a man who achieved many outstanding accomplishments in his lifetime. Indeed, he is known as the 3rd President of the United States and author of the American Declaration of Independence. Less known are his other lifetime achievements, including Virginia State Governor, American Vice President, Secretary of State, Ambassador, architect, inventor, philosopher and founder of the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson demonstrated a lifetime of vast achievement and leadership, yet few know his life was also filled with great personal challenges. All of us face obstacles and difficulties on almost a daily basis. But very few people realize the adversity Jefferson faced during the prime of his life. Yet, some of his most significant personal and public achievements were accomplished during these times of great personal sorrow! In briefly examining his life we can better appreciate his leadership qualities. His personal endurance can provide a few valuable lessons for us today.
As is true of all great leaders, Jefferson was not a perfect man. Like all human beings, he had a number of individual flaws and weaknesses. Recent DNA testing has established the strong possibility that he may have secretly fathered children through a slave named Sally Hemings. However, one cannot read about his life without appreciating how much he shaped the civil freedoms and religious liberties we cherish in our modern western world. Throughout history men of great governmental leadership have been rare. Jefferson was not born to lead. Most who met him described him as shy and one who attempted to avoid a prominent role. He often remarked how his only desire was to be left alone to farm at his beloved home called Monticello. However, historical destiny would provide other opportunities for him. As we will see, he developed leadership by first experiencing and learning followership. Before he became an effective leader, he first became a practical follower!
Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743. He was the son of a Welsh farmer who owned a large plantation in the British American colony of Virginia. Thomas was blessed to receive a good education and strong moral teachings from loving parents. From his father and his rural surroundings he acquired a lasting interest in the sciences and in education. He also developed a love for Greek and Latin at a young age. As a young adult, he attended the College of William and Mary in the early 1760’s. Jefferson eventually received his law degree in 1767. After he began his law practice, an interest in politics led him to be selected as a delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses was a colonial legislative assembly under the authority of the British appointed governor. Three years later, at age 29, he married a wealthy widow named Martha Wayles Skelton.
Jefferson was a reserved person by nature and spoke in a very soft voice. He was never considered eloquent in speech and gave few public speeches in his career. By today’s definition we would not say he had charismatic leadership. But those who spent time with him found his conversations and personality engaging. One of his earliest recognized talents was skillful writing and prose. In his lifetime, Jefferson wrote over 18,000 letters. This talent would serve him well throughout his lifetime. By the 1770’s the American colonies felt unfairly dominated by Great Britain. Delegates from these colonies assembled as a Congress to discuss their grievances and future relationship with Great Britain and its king. Jefferson was chosen to represent Virginia at the 2nd Continental Congress in 1775. By the time of the 2nd Continental Congress, his previously published writings on the "rights of people from tyranny" had already caught the attention of many other delegates to the Congress.
At the young age of 33 years old Jefferson was asked to be the junior member of a committee whose task it was to draft the American Declaration of Independence. He served with two notable individuals whose senior status and outspoken manner made them prominent leaders in the Congress. They were John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Being a junior member of the committee, Jefferson resisted writing the draft and suggested that Adams create it. Reputedly it was John Adams who convinced the younger Jefferson to construct the document. He told Jefferson there were three reasons why he should write the document. Reason one was that Jefferson was a Virginian and Adams thought a representative from a southern colony like Virginia should “appear at the head of this business.” Reason two, Adams continued is that “I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much other wise.” Reason three Adams opined is “You can write ten times better than I can.”
Jefferson completed his draft in late June of 1776. He was about to learn a valuable lesson in followership. Being a talented young man and gifted in writing, he was naturally proud of his draft document. First his original draft was amended when both Adams and Franklin made alterations with their own handwriting on Jefferson’s draft. The committee presented it to Congress on June 28th of 1776. The debate on the Declaration began on July 1st and lasted three days. Jefferson sat and watched the Congress considerably alter his document as presented by the committee. The Congress cut about a quarter of the text, polished some of the wording, and made some substantive changes. Jefferson later wrote how painful and humbling it was to experience this debate. He felt his original document was “mangled” by the Congress. This was a powerful lesson in followership for Jefferson. Oftentimes the best efforts of followers may not be what are most needed or expedient for a given situation. Wise followers accept this fact and continue to make significant contributions to the organization because they want what is best for the organization rather than their own ego! Through this painful experience Jefferson learned about the difficulty of working with other powerful or dogmatic personalities. He learned about the value of building consensus and accepting rejection. Today Jefferson is rightly credited as the author of the Declaration of Independence, yet few people comprehend how he learned to be a follower within the Congress.
The American Colonies revolted and went to war. Jefferson was a legislator and Governor of the state of Virginia. In 1782, Jefferson became a member of the newly formed Congress of the United States, and in 1784 he was named the American ambassador to France. This decade of his life was one of tremendous accomplishment. As a legislator he had instituted many social reforms to protect individual rights and the use of private property. As a member of Congress he played a pivotal role in the establishment of a new nation. He was influential in guaranteeing that no one church would become the official state religion of the United States or receive state financing. He risked his personal life and wealth for the principles he believed in. His leadership accomplishments are impressive. However, they are all the more astounding when we realize what else was going on in his life!
This same decade of his life would also bring about a number of personal tragedies. In 1773 his father-in-law died. Shortly afterward his best childhood friend died suddenly leaving a wife and six children. The next year his first daughter Jane was born, but she would die 18 months later when Jefferson was 31 years old. In 1776, his mother died unexpectedly at age 57. One year later Jefferson’s first son was born and died within a few hours of birth. In 1781 a series of personal trials occurred. First, the British army invaded Virginia and captured his beloved Monticello. Jefferson barely escaped capture by the army. He broke his left wrist while being thrown from a horse. Also during this year, his reputation was damaged when his political enemies convinced the Virginia State Assembly to investigate his conduct as governor of Virginia. The very next year, his wife Martha died just a few months after giving birth to their daughter Lucy Elizabeth. On her deathbed she made him promise never to marry again. Jefferson was now only 39 years old and he kept his promise to Martha. Though he would live another 43 years, he never did marry again.
Most of us would certainly agree that Thomas Jefferson experienced many distressing personal trials during this 10-12 year period. But, sad to say, that was not all! At age 41, he witnessed the death of his daughter Lucy Elizabeth, who died of “whooping cough”. One year later, he stumbled while walking and broke his right wrist. It was not set properly and he suffered pain in this wrist for the rest of his life. During various times of his life he also suffered from prolonged migraine headaches that almost incapacitated him. Another worry he experienced was mounting debt problems for allowing his farm to deteriorate while he served his country in various roles. Remember, all these events were happening while Jefferson was involved in the leadership of founding and managing a fragile new nation. History has recorded all of his many achievements during theses very years when these personal trials were occurring in his life. Few understand what was going on in his private life. He suffered more distressing personal trials than many of us have. However, Jefferson is not remembered for his trials, but for his accomplishments as a powerful and effective leader.
Jefferson had a great leadership quality that set him apart from many others. He did not allow the difficult circumstances of life to crush his inner spirit or his desire to serve others who called upon him for help. Yes, like all of us he could become very discouraged. Upon the death of his wife he remarked to others that he even wanted to end his life. He certainly hurt, mourned, and experienced depression and sadness like most of us. Yet he was able to reach deep inside, shake off these natural emotions and go forward. Jefferson was a lot like another great political figure that arose in the 20th century. Winston Churchill shared this same quality with Jefferson. It is Churchill who roared…”Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
Thomas Jefferson was able to endure great personal hardship in life because he was a man of purpose. He viewed life as an opportunity to explore the universe and gain knowledge about the wonderful world around him. He wrote the following statement in 1786 that revealed his zest for life even with all of its trials and obstacles. “Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures...Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride, serene and sublime, above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, the laws which bind up their existence, and the Eternal being who made and bound them up by these laws. Let this be our employ.” It is obvious from his many writings and he had an enthusiasm for life, knowledge and exploration. Another positive leadership quality he possessed was an interest in manydiverse subjects and ideas. He was not obsessed with a single narrow interest, but had many individual interests. Those who met him were astounded at his interest and knowledge in all the sciences and humanities. Some of his numerous hobbies included gardening and practical household inventions. These hobbies helped to refresh his mind and add spice to his life. What a contrast to many leaders today who are so narrow minded or heavily focused on a single issue they leave their followers remarking that they “need a life”!
A reason Jefferson may have been able to overcome personal tragedy and hardship was his rather unique religious beliefs. He was not an eager supporter of the organized religion of his day. Yet it was Jefferson who refers to God three times in the American Declaration of Independence. Some have labeled him a “deist” and some of his political enemies even claimed he was irreligious. The truth is that Jefferson was a deeply religious man in a nontraditional way. He was a firm believer in religious freedom and rejected the traditional views and doctrines of most churches that existed during his time. Feeling that some had distorted the original teachings of Jesus Christ, Jefferson assembled only the words of Christ out of the four gospels and created a book now known as theJefferson Bible. This was the book he took to bed with him to end his day. In a letter he wrote to John Adams, he stated that he read this book for “an hour or a half’s...reading of something moral whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep.” Jefferson is not alone among great leaders who drew upon their religious principles or values during times of turmoil and instability.
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His final letters to fellow patriot John Adams and many other friends reveal a man who had mellowed and changed through a lifetime of experiences and personal suffering. Even his final years offer us a valuable lesson in leadership. Near the end of his life Jefferson renewed his friendship with the elder John Adams. For many years they had not been friends. After the revolution and founding of the United States both had become bitter political adversaries. On many issues they were on opposite ends. They grew apart and for many years never communicated directly. However, both leaders deeply understood an important leadership principle. Don’t make political or organizational differences personal! People are more important than programs. Friendship should transcend policy. Both men made an effort to renew their past association and truly became friends. In their later years it gave these two sages an opportunity to discuss their views and differences on political theory and philosophy in a 15 year long letter writing campaign.
Examining the life of Jefferson is a study of the qualities of great leadership. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to the purchase of Louisiana territory, he was willing to undertake personal risk and responsibility. In accepting the many poorly paid political offices he served, Jefferson sacrificed many years of productive farming and his wealth. He envisioned America as potentially greater than it was and did what he could to make the promise of America a reality. He dedicated his entire adult life to the pursuit of reason that government should serve its citizens and not be their master.
Thank you Mr. Jefferson!
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About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 9 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. In August of 2000, Greg completed his studies for a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University. He is the founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
Brodie, Fawn, (1974) Thomas Jefferson – An Intimate History. New York: Bantam Books
Cunningham, Noble, (1987) In Pursuit of Reason – The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
Louisiana State University Press
Ellis, Joseph, (1997) American Sphinx – The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knoft (Random House)
One Leader's Perspective The greatest complement I have ever read was directed toward Thomas Jefferson. President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a White House dinner given to honor Nobel Prize winners throughout the Western Hemisphere. Kennedy looked out over the distinguished guests and stated that they were “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that haGreg L.Thomas Articles
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creative and entrepreneurial author—a man who served in roles as actor, breeder of rare chickens, director, gardener, lyricist, merchant, movie producer, philatelist, photographer, playwright, printer and newspaper publisher, salesman, theater manager, window dresser, and, of course, celebrated author. Enter The Way of Oz: A Guide for Wisdom, Heart, and Courage and its roadmap for leadership development and travels down the yellow brick road of life.
Now, imagine the characters of Oz bearing special symbolism for learning, loving, serving, focusing on the future, and humility. You might imagine the associations: the Scarecrow for wisdom and learning, the Tin Woodman for heart or loving, the Cowardly Lion for courage and service, Dorothy for leadership and a focus on the future, and the Wizard for humility and related virtues. For the purposes of this short essay let’s focus on Dorothy and her character as a metaphor for a future focus and leadership. At end we’ll see how a focus on the future and leadership are tied inextricably to the characteristics imbedded of the other major players of the Wizard of Oz masterpiece.
Dorothy in The Way of Oz is the leadership person—the character with a focus on the future—the character who brings out the best in others through understanding, heart and her own courage—all cast in a spirit of kindness and service. And, with Dorothy’s savvy about personal and institutional planning, diversity, sustainability, scientific and political understanding, and personal responsibility—she is a character who makes significant differences in the lives of others—men, women and creatures alike! Dorothy in The Way of Oz also knows how to detect and deter life’s wicked witches, both of the internal (e.g., self-doubt, imposter syndrome) and external (e.g., aggressive, manipulative and envious co-workers, friends or family members) varieties.
Through The Way of Oz, we learn about Dorothy’s approach to personal planning, involving integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, selective volunteerism—all while drawing on the wisdom of teachers and mentors, and connecting learning and wisdom through caring and service.
The 21st Century Dorothy also understands institutional strategic planning and its components: vision, mission, environmental context, goals and objectives (directed through implementation strategies and articulated challenges), group oversight and shared understanding, and benchmarking integrated with periodic reporting and results-driven revisions of plans.
In The Way of Oz, Dorothy accentuates the best in colleagues and institutions through her understanding of the mosaic model of diversity and the importance of science and political insight for developing policy and actions related to sustainability. She is also wise in her comprehension of secular democracies and their power to serve our worldwide community.
On the “personal responsibility front,” Dorothy of The Way of Oz is empowered by determination, persistence, priority consciousness, critical thinking, and complex reasoning—all with ethics in the lead. She is also able to manage life’s time—systematically and sensibly.
Our modern Dorothy’s focus on the future is powerful because it is cast through an archetypal story written by a man who, despite his foibles and frailties, knew how to relate to others in unique ways. In other words, Frank Baum made a difference and The Way of Oz can make a difference in many peoples’ lives—particularly in the area of leadership development.
Thus, the Way of Oz approach to leading, involving personal planning, integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, and selective volunteerism, fortified by organizational strategic planning, an understanding of diversity, science and political insight to guide decisions about sustainability, and personal responsibility—all with ethics in lead—prepares one for a life of personal and professional fulfillment. These elements of the Way of Oz and the new book of the same name—enriched by the creative graphics of Dusty Higgins and video content portraying leadership roles of students, faculty, and staff in universities as one segment of society—can make a significant difference in lives of seekers and future leaders of our world community. Many have found—in these thoughts—the true magic of The Way of Oz. Consider joining us!
Below are the main characters in The Way of Oz as conceived by Dusty Higgins. See if you can identify them all?
About the author:
Robert V. Smith serves as Provost and Senior Vice President at Texas Tech University (TTU). He has oversight responsibility for fourteen colleges and schools, along with the libraries and several other academically related units and programs.
He is the author or co-author of more than 320 articles and nine books. The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage (Texas Tech University Press, 2012) is available in hard cover, paperback, and electronic versions in all electronic formats. You can find out more about Robert Smith and his book at http://www.thewayofoz.com/index.htm
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creativeRobert V. Smith Articles
More than a century of research indicates that there is almost an endless list of leadership definitions without unanimity, including over 90 variables for consideration (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019; Winston & Patterson, 2006; Yukl, 2013). Over time, most researchers have come to a consensus that leadership is a complex process of influence toward a collective task (Hickman, 2015; Northouse, 2019; Yukl, 2013). In the same manner, there seems to be just as many leadership theories that have evolved over time. But, which leadership theory is the most effective for organizational transformation? What is the role of the leader and follower within the leadership theories that are beneficial or detrimental? Researchers from all over of the world have been trying to aggressively answer these questions in a plethora of studies for many years.
Through research findings, the theory of transformational leadership has become the rage in recent times. Setting challenging expectations, transformational leaders motivate followers through an exceptional form of influence to do more than originally intended or thought possible (Bass, 2008, Northouse, 2019). Much attention is given to the needs and motives of followers while the leaders strive to assist followers in reaching their fullest potential (Northouse, 2019). In the end, the leader and follower may transform from within having stronger moral values (Northouse, 2019). For example, Gandhi did transform millions of people while raising their hopes and demands, and at the same time, was changed himself. In addition, a series of studies reflected four factors of transformational leadership including idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Christie, Barling, & Turner, 2011). With a strong sense of moral values, transformational leaders use the four factors to create organizational turnaround.
Four Factors of Transformational Leadership
1. Idealized influence
2. Inspirational motivation
3. Intellectual stimulation
4. Individualized consideration
An emotional component of leadership known as charisma is a factor among transformational leaders. Transformational leaders lead by example through actions such as exhibiting bravery by taking risks and making difficult decisions. There is a great deal of trust from the followers, and the leaders are very respected (Northouse, 2019). Charismatic is a word often used to describe a transformational leader and one of the reasons why followers are inclined to support the vision and mission set forth (Bass, 2008). Have you ever experienced a charismatic leader who had high moral standards and led others through a positive change effort? To be part of such a change can be invigorating and spark the passion to achieve at a high degree of success.
Challenging individuals in a risk-free environment, while clearly communicating the expectations to generate commitment toward a shared vision is the role of inspirational motivation (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019). Implementing the concept of a true team is enhanced within the theory of transformational leadership. Followers are influenced to achieve more than they could ever think possible as part of a team instead of in their own self-interest (Northouse, 2019). A leader who creates such a risk-free environment and promotes the team concept adds a bit of healthy competition to the organization is positively effecting change within an organization.
Leaders who encourage followers to be innovative and challenge the beliefs and values of the followers and self, provide intellectual stimulation and empowerment (Northouse, 2019). The leader enables followers to question organizational assumptions and discover ways to problem solve individually and within teams. Support is given to the followers as they try new approaches and develop ways to solve organizational issues. Careful problem solving is promoted through intellectual stimulation within a risk-free environment (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019). An example of this type of leadership is a school principal who promotes teacher efforts to develop unique ways to solve barriers for students, so the students may reach a level of proficiency in core subjects such as reading or math.
A leader who finds personalized ways to engage with followers exhibits individualized consideration. Listening to the individuals needs and acting as a coach for the purpose of assisting followers to reach their fullest potentials are traits of a transformational leader (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019). Through a supportive environment, new learning opportunities are created, two-way communication is encouraged, and tasks are delegated (Bass, 2008). Recognizing qualities in others despite cultural differences builds trust and empowers followers to achieve and the basis of individualized consideration a transformation leader implements with fidelity (Bass, 2008; Greenleaf, Spears, Covey, & Senge, 2002).
Relevance to Organizational Improvement
As a school district executive administrator in one of the largest districts in the nation with approximately 96,000 students, strategically placing transformational leaders within the organizational structure has proven effective. There is a direct correlation between the school principal and student achievement, and this correlation is significant when implementing themes or theories of leadership (Crum, Sherman, & Myran, 2010; Shaw & Newton, 2014). Moreover, significant relationships exist between school leadership and learning, as well as specific principal behaviors producing a direct relationship with teacher’s career decisions (Boyd et al., 2011; Nettles & Herrington, 2007). Knowing the research of the impact of a school principal within the organization of a school, the school principals exhibiting the four factors of transformational leadership were placed in the most struggling schools in the school district. Within four years of implementing this organizational change, there has been a significant decrease from 22 struggling schools according to the state accountability system to one struggling school. Students within these schools now have a greater chance of graduating high school because of the significant increase in proficiency and growth in core academics. The school principals within these schools created an environment where both students and teachers achieved far more than ever thought possible.
Value to the Field of Study
Transformational leadership has several positive implications for a variety of organizations. Because this leadership style has a large emphasis on focusing on followers’ needs and providing a sense of empowerment, the style has a strong intuitive appeal (Bass, 2008). Followers’ perceptions of a leader with transformational leadership factors enhance organizational outcomes. Furthermore, transformational leaders place a strong emphasis on morals and values. For example, as previously mentioned, providing students in the struggling schools opportunities to demonstrate proficiency is our moral and ethical obligation to the students and community. In this case, not only did the teachers have an opportunity for growth, the students did as well.
In conclusion, transformational leadership promotes high levels of goal mastery within organizations. The transformational leadership factors of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration, when perceived by followers, lead to commitment to the leaders’ vision and mission. These factors when exhibited by a leader can lead to greater performance by both the leader and follower that goes well beyond what is expected. Is it the moral obligation of a leader to promote growth among followers while empowering and supporting efforts toward achieving challenging goals? Transformational leaders would say, yes, it is the moral obligation of a leader to promote the growth of others for the good of the organization.
Bass, B. M. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, & managerial applications (4th ed.). New York, NY: The Free Press.
Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Ing, M., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2011). The influence of school administrators on teacher retention decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 48(2), 303–333.
Christie, A., Barling, J., & Turner, N., (2011). Pseudo-transformational leadership: Model specifications and outcomes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(12), 2943-2984.
Crum, K. S., Sherman, W. H., & Myran, S. (2010). Best practices of successful elementary school leaders. Journal of Educational Administration, 48(1), 48–63. https://doi.org/10.1108/09578231011015412
Greenleaf, R. K., Spears, L. C., Covey, S. R., & Senge, P. M. (2002). Servant leadership: a journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (25th anniversary ed.). New York: Paulist Press.
Hickman, G. R. (2015). Leading organizations: Perspectives for a new era (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Nettles, S. M., & Herrington, C. (2007). Revisiting the importance of the direct effects of school leadership on student achievement: The implications for school improvement policy.
Peabody Journal of Education, 82(4), 724–736. https://doi.org/10.1080/01619560701603239
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Shaw, J., & Newton, J. (2014). Teacher retention and satisfaction with a servant leader as principal. Education, 135(1), 101–106.
Winston, B. & Patterson, K. (2006). Integrative definition of leadership, International Journal of Leadership Studies, 1(2), 6-66.
Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
More than a century of research indicates that there is almost an endless list of leadership definitions without unanimity, including over 90 variables for consideration (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019; Winston & Patterson, 2006; Yukl, 2013). Over time, most researchers have come to a consensus that leadership is a complex process of influence toward a collective task (Hickman, 2015; NorthouShanna M. Flecha Articles
Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities. Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learning how to gather information, being open to dialogues, developing effective skills, and being able to read between the lines. These are essential, fundamental tools that are necessary in global environments and cross-cultural communication, because of the roles they help leaders develop as they are striving to become more successful as they embark on a journey of effective leadership.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION?
In order to improve communication with respect to the leader-follower relationship, one should observe the following prerequisites:
i. Maintaining trust: One should be aware that people are likely to forgive many things where trust exists as opposed to where there is no trust. In addition, great leaders also demonstrate the need to get personal as far as communication is concerned. The essence of getting personal is to help an individual be truthful as much as he or she can. Getting specific is another rule of thumb if one is to improve his or her communication because it removes ambiguity (Myatt, 2012). This calls for the need for one to learn to communicate with clarity based on simplicity and conciseness.
ii. Learning techniques to gather information: Learning how to gather information while transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading the vision is another significant aspect to improving one’s communication. An individual can improve his or her communication by developing a ‘servant’s heart’ through focusing on contributing to the overall communication matter than just receiving. It is apparent that one is able to improve his or her communication when he or she seeks to contribute to the overall communication subject more than just receiving information from other parties. In addition to this, one has to have an open mind in order to improve his or her communication. An inflexible mind is a toxic factor of new opportunities for leaders and thus a leader-follower relationship must ensure that individuals are open to dissenting and opposing positions (Myatt, 2012). An individual who wants to improve his or her communication must also be open to new ideas and dialogue to demonstrate the willingness to engage in a discussion with an open mind. The foundation of morality is through empathetic engagement in all aspects while influencing followers towards the attainment of common goals.
iii. Developing effective listening skills: Listening is very important in the process of improving communication since through active listening actual understanding of what has been said is achieved by leaders and their followers. Listening also plays a vital role in ensuring that the leader gives effective and the right feedback in response to what has been heard and understood. Besides, listening ensures that the leader is put in the mindset of serving his or her followers. Thus, the author of this popular press magazine is convinced that developing effective listening skills is an important technique for helping an individual to improve his or her communication (Myatt, 2012). In addition to effective listening, empathy is another fundamental communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. Effective leaders must demonstrate that they care about their followers by avoiding prideful arrogance and ego. Also, they must demonstrate emotional intelligence by being in a position to diagnose, understand, and manage emotional cues based on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill. This should be coupled with the ability to possess a personal understanding which includes the ability to deal with emotions, general performance, as well as the ability to demonstrate self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability and ability to lead others (Patterson et al., 2007). Hence, an individual can improve his or her communication by taking responsibility and accountability as a virtue that connects ethics and integrity.
iv. Reading between the lines: The ability to read between the lines is another essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. This allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. Ultimately, this ensures they become aware of the implications of their ideas, opinions, and thoughts to their followers. As such, an individual can evaluate his or her communication by determining whether he or she reflects upon their communication content before conveying it to their followers. An individual must be reflective of their thoughts and ideas in order to challenge assumptions (Lokhorst, 2016). This is an imperative initiative since it allows leaders to think strategically by conducting an evaluation of their business model, organizational and staff structure, and customer base.
THE ROLE OF A LEADER IN GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTS AND CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
All these communication strategies are essential in global environments and cross-cultural communication in the following ways:
First, effective communication entails the ability to communicate across cultures through appropriate ethical language while respecting others. Ethical concerns also contribute to the challenge of leadership in global working environments. Managers are expected to possess the ability to communicate effectively across cultures through using appropriate ethical language. This should be accompanied with respecting viewpoints of people from different cultural groups in the workplace. The shifting scope of businesses’ operation from local and regional contexts to increasingly global contexts requires successful leaders to possess attributes such as cultural flexibility, emotional intelligence and economic competence, collaboration and control, and effective control (Myatt, 2012).
Employing ethical principles in global working environments also includes the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment, navigating cultural, linguistic, and economic differences, operating in an insightful manner at a personal level, and providing honest information to all stakeholders in the leadership context. This, therefore, makes the leader communication styles imperative.
These communication strategies also enhance co-existence and positive relationships. This is by ensuring that leaders develop emotional intelligence and cultural flexibility, as well as fostering an environment that motivates followers by providing incentives and other necessities to achieve a desired goal (Lokhorst, 2016). The global working environments require the practice of embracing multiplicity or a mixture of individuals from a wide range of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, genders, and sexual orientations among others. Leaders are also expected to meet technological, economic conditions, labor conditions, and social and cultural standards. This is through understanding ethical concerns, customer needs and motivations, information, and choice available to the workforce, addressing globalization, and corporate governance concerns (Patterson et al., 2007). Those who want to improve their communication with respect to leader-follower relationship need to maintain continuous leadership skill development. This is vital in global working environments and cross-cultural communication.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
The communication strategies discussed provide invaluable lessons about leadership with respect to leader-follower communication relationships. To begin with, the changing nature of business operations from local to global environments has led to the evolution of the concept of leadership. The speed of change in all spheres of life demands an entirely different leader to lead in global environments and cross-cultural communication contexts. The leader must strive to adapt rapidly to change and be engaging in constant skill development to lead others to the desired direction. In all these, cultural flexibility is a fundamental leadership competency in global environments. It entails the need for one to demonstrate the ability to be willing to submit to another cultural way of life without feeling anxious or alien-like feelings. In the leader-follower relationship, emotional intelligence is one of the communication imperatives. One must, therefore, demonstrate a deeper understanding of their emotions, weaknesses, strengths, drives, and reactions to problems to know how to handle themselves in different situations. This is particularly important when interacting with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Of ultimate importance in improving communication with regard to the leader-follower relationship is the ability to read between the lines. This is an essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship because it allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. This is the most important stage for if the leader does not get it right here it will not carry over well to the followers.
How you start a project could very well be how you end one.
In essence, the beginning is the end.
Lokhorst, J. (2016). The secret to successful organizational change. Outcomes Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.christianleadershipalliance.org/about
Myatt, M. (2012). 10 communication secrets of great leaders. Forbes. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/04/04/10-communication-secrets-of-great-leaders/3/#1be23a634c91
Patterson, K., Dannhauser, Z., & Stone, A. G. (2007). From Noble to Global: The Attributes of Global Leadership. Servant Leadership Research Roundtable. Retrieved from https://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/sl_proceedings/2007/patterson_dannhauser_stone.pdf
Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities. Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learningPriscilla J. DuBose Articles
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