The Best Style of Leadership Has Been Identified: Do You Have What It Takes?

By Stefani Yorges, PhD

We have spent the last century trying to define and measure leadership. Until now, there has been little consensus about what constitutes good leadership.

But researchers have recently identified a form of leadership that is best suited for conditions in today’s organizations. Those conditions include rapid change, increased globalization, accelerated growth in technology, and a turbulent economy. Companies must be innovative to stay competitive while employees are confronted with greater responsibility, increased ambiguity, and more complex problems to solve.

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So today’s leader must coach and develop rather than simply control.

This form of leadership has been labeled “transformational.” Today, transformational leadership has become the most widely studied form of leadership; it dominates current thinking about leadership effectiveness. A search of keywords in articles published in the last 20 years revealed that there have been more studies on transformational leadership than on all other popular theories of leadership combined. A recent meta-analysis (a summary of 87 studies) found this leadership style to be associated with the most positive outcomes in performance, commitment, satisfaction, motivation, as well as group and organizational productivity.

A Cultural Shift
Transformational leadership represents a cultural shift in what is considered good leadership. Effective leadership is now defined in terms of the qualities of a good coach or mentor rather than an authoritative person who tells others what to do. The collaborative and participative aspects of this leadership style foster more effective teams.

Transformational leaders are known for transforming the culture in which they work. They creatively foster change, even in organizations that are already successful. These leaders establish themselves as a role model by gaining other’s trust and confidence. They mentor and empower others to contribute more effectively to the organization.

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Do You Have What It Takes to be Transformational?
There are four dimensions of transformational leadership:

Idealized Influence describes the positive personal characteristics and behaviors of transformational leaders. These leaders display conviction, integrity, and demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice self-interest for the good of the group. This results in respect and admiration.

Inspirational Motivation represents the ability of transformational leaders to envision the future, articulate that vision in a way that is inspiring to others, and motivate others to accomplish extraordinary things. These leaders challenge others to meet high standards, while communicating optimism about reaching difficult goals.

Intellectual Stimulation suggests that transformational leaders challenge assumptions, take risks, and stimulate creativity and innovation. These leaders encourage others to approach problems from new angles and allow mistakes to be part of the learning process.

Individualized Consideration means that transformational leaders cultivate high-quality one-on-one relationships with others. They take the time to understand the unique strengths and developmental needs of each. This individualized treatment helps them design appropriate strategies to elevate each person to higher levels of potential and performance.

Transformational leadership behavior can be observed and assessed; then coached and developed. The initial focus of training involves getting leaders familiar with the transformational leadership model and helping them become aware of their current behavior through 360-degree feedback. Leaders then move from awareness to practicing specific skills that make it possible for everyone to become more transformational.

I am a psychologist and professional leadership coach. I am privileged to partner with people who want to raise their level of excellence to new heights so they can have an increasingly greater impact on others. My unique background as an educator, consultant, and coach helps you connect personal potential to peak performance. I am an active leadership consultant who has engaged with over 100 clients from more than 30 companies. Take a leap of faith today. Connect with me. Your life will never be the same.

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