(#251) Transformational Leadership

These leaders literally transform our workplaces
and our lives into empowerment zones. How many have you had?

Think of the supervisors you have had over the course of your working life.  Take a moment and write the names of four or five of your most remarkable (in a good way) bosses.  Next to each name, write why they stand out for you.  What did they do that separated them from the others?

When I look at my list, each leader exhibited similar traits.  As cliché as it might sound, each one knew how to empower me. They did not micro-manage my every move.  Trust existed. They had passion and purpose for our mission. Mostly, each one of these people knew how to focus on the needs of their followers.  And we gladly followed. Together, we made a difference.

Video recommendation for the week:

Transformational leadership. The name says it all. These leaders literally transform our workplaces and our lives into empowerment zones. They respect and nurture us.  Harvard professor Linda Hill shares that transformational leaders know how to “set the stage”—and then let their followers become the performers.  They recognize that the workplace is not about the leader but rather the “collective genius [coming] from the diverse slices of genius contributed by all the individuals involved.”

The antithesis of the transformational leader is the transactional leader. This person narrowly focuses on tasks—the “what” and the “how;” and he must maintain control of most aspects of the day-to-day operations.  Tony Schwartz (The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working) warns that “if your manager knows what you’re doing all the time, you’re not doing your job and neither is he.” (p. 296)

Author and marketing guru Seth Godin encourages us to envision a two lines, one horizontal and one vertical (each a continuum).  On the left end of the horizontal line write the word “timid” (shy; reticent; fearful); and on the far right you jot the word “reckless” (careless; lack of caution; foolhardy).   Label the upper end of the vertical axis “tight” (prepared) and the bottom end, “loose” (ill-prepared; wing it).

The transformational leader helps move her/his followers into the upper right quadrant: prepared to take risks.  Take action. Failure is an option. And it is more than meaningless words.  Growth does not come to the timid-let’s-fly-under-the-radar worker (the type of environment created by transactional leaders). The transformational leader helps the followers grow. He/she is secure in his/her skin and wants nothing more than personal growth and resilience for his colleagues. This leader encourages his people to develop their own unique voices and stories.

Which leader would your rather work for? Which leaders have you worked for?  Which leader do you want to be remembered as?

Make it a great week. And H.T.R.B. as needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment.

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Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


About stevepiscitelli

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7 Responses to (#251) Transformational Leadership

  1. Sheila Bambacus says:

    A majority of the leadership at FSCJ should read this. 🙂 Maybe you can offer some ongoing workshops for current employees and all new hires.


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