Any discussion concerning leadership qualities is incomplete without the cliched pointer that all great leaders lead by example. But it is not just great leaders but every leader – including you – who leads by example. That’s because all that you do, good or bad, is being monitored by your subordinates. They imbibe your actions and follow your example.
Hence, you need to set up the right standards through your work. All that you do is going to percolate down the hierarchy in your organization. Therefore, while motivating your employees is essential, your efforts to inspire them through positive actions are equally significant.
Let’s discuss four ways that you can use to lead by example and impact your behavior effectively.
1. Success belongs to the team
Former President of India, Doctor APJ Abdul Kalam, once mentioned how his superior led by example during the launch of SLV3 satellite.
When the mission failed in 1979, the then Chairman of ISRO, Mr. Satish Dhawan, took responsibility for the failure. He faced tough questions from the media in a press conference and displayed trust in his team.
However, the next year when the mission was successful, he asked his team to attend the press conference and take credit for the triumph.
That’s how you need to perform as a leader.
You need to own failures and share the success with your team. When you take up any failure head-on and step back in times of success, you gain the respect of your employees. They look up to you and try to follow your suit.
2. Follow your rules
You need to ‘walk the talk’ as a leader. Imagine Mahatma Gandhi, a preacher of non-violence, getting involved in physical abuse. If that had happened, his followers would have been disappointed and resorted to violence themselves. Similarly, only when you abide by your rules, will people follow them.
For instance, if you want to restrict your employees from using social media during working hours, you should not scroll through them yourself.
Contrarily, if you practice double standards – make rules for the team and not apply them to yourself- your subordinates will feel betrayed. You will lose their trust, and they will develop a negative attitude towards your guidelines
3. Take responsibility: Get your hands dirty
If you follow the ‘Do as I say and not as I do’ philosophy, you will opt for the hands-off approach i.e., you may delegate complex tasks to your subordinates and wait for them to solve things. In cases like these, your subordinates are bound to feel that you are not contributing enough, or that you lack sufficient knowledge.
On the other hand, if your team witnesses you participating in complicated matters and finding solutions to tough problems, they will be inspired to take up challenging assignments as well.
Hence it is imperative that you push your limits and not hesitate to take up the cumbersome tasks yourself.
When you are ready to get into the minor details and solve the problems yourself, you get closer to the business needs. This helps you get a better perspective of solving existing issues and generating new ideas.
4. Listen to your team
When you are open to discussions with your employees, you get exposed to great ideas through brainstorming. A piece of advice from them about the processes and methods has the potential to make a big difference. Moreover, it makes them feel valued as they are able to contribute to the growth of your organization.
When your employees are sure that you will listen to them, they are more likely to follow your lead. The management of Jack Welch of General Electric is a classic example of how removing barriers to open communication can lead to productive outcomes.
Jack allowed everyone in GE to brainstorm and think of ideas instead of waiting for someone higher up in the organization. He promised to listen to anyone in the company who has something to suggest that could make the company better. This resulted in employees following his lead and developing a culture that nurtured the growth of GE under his management.
If you expect people to follow your lead, you need to set up the right examples.
Your employees look up to you and are influenced by your actions rather than by your words. They take a cue from what you do and try to emulate it.
Remember, the best motivation for your followers is always your individual work. When you take charge and show your employees what’s possible, they feel ‘If he can do it, we can do it too.’ If you exhibit the best in you, your employees, too, will give their best to everything they do.
Do you have more ways to add to our list of how to lead by example? Do let us know in your comments.
Is your organization struggling to meet rapidly changing business needs? Do you feel your company is stuck in old issues for a long time and needs to refresh? You know that your institution needs a complete revamp, but you are not sure where to start?
If yes, Transformational Leadership is a one-stop solution.
If no, mmmm…Well, you may still need to apply transformational leadership!
That’s because ‘transformation’ may not always be from bad to good. It is also from good to better or better to great, transformational leadership is all about bringing a positive change to your business.
“Transformational leaders don’t start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a future they’d like to create. ” – Seth Godin
As a transformational leader, you can quickly analyze the current standing of an organization and assess the areas that require improvement. You can define or redefine the core values of an institution and inspire everyone to imbibe them.
Before we get into the details of its components, let’s first discuss what is meant by transformational leadership.
What is transformational leadership?
The concept of transformational leadership dates way back in the 1970s when James V. Downton coined the term, and later, James Burns expanded it in his book ‘Leadership’. Even after decades, in current times of digital transformation, this is the most desirable leadership style.
In basic terms, transformational leadership is a management style that brings a positive change in your organization by identifying the improvements needed, setting a compelling vision, and motivating employees to work collaboratively to achieve it.
It is the path you need to follow to bridge the gap between the current state of your organization and the future of it that you wish to see.
Worried, how would your workforce react to such a change in your leadership strategy? I’m sure they will welcome the change. Here’s why:
As a transformational leader, your objective will be to amend the current state of your organization. To achieve this, you need to unleash the creativity of your employees and encourage them to innovate by giving them more independence and ownership. With this freedom, their job satisfaction level and morale are only going to go up.
Before you go ahead and apply transformational leadership, let’s first discuss the essential parts that constitute it.
Components of Transformational leadership:
To transform your organization, you need to move out of the old methods and develop new techniques that give desired outputs. To attain this objective, you need a strong vision that gives you the requisite direction. You then need to inspire your employees to align themselves with your vision.
There is a substantial body of investigation on transformational leadership that can help you attain these goals. Bernard Bass is the main contributor to the study of transformational leadership who defined the four main components of it, also called the ‘4 I’s’.
Following is a brief description of these components and how can you apply them:
1. Intellectual Stimulation
Intellectual stimulation is the behavior that encourages innovation and creativity and develops critical-thinking and problem-solving ability. It arouses thoughts and imagination, as well as revives the ability to identify and solve problems creatively.
A solid example to understand how intellectual stimulation works is this interview of Steve Jobs for the PBS documentary, Triumph of the Nerds. When the interviewer asked how to run a company, his answer was by simply asking, “Why do we do things, and how can we do them differently?”
Wondering how you can apply intellectual stimulation in your company? Following are a few suggestions:
You need to challenge the status quo in your organization’s systems, processes, and operations. Collaborate with your team and other employees to identify the issues, bottlenecks, and roadblocks in the practices of your company. Do not hesitate to discard methods that are not working.
Next, you need to encourage creativity and innovation in your subordinates to develop better processes in your company. Persuade them to foster new ideas and build novel approaches. Such a change in the system will not only transform your organization but also give your employees new opportunities to learn.
2. Individualized Consideration
Individualized consideration is the degree to which you give support to the individual members of your team. It includes your attention to their needs, and your openness to discuss their concerns. It also incorporates your ability to recognize the aspirations and abilities of your employees.
To be a successful transformational leader, you need to take care of not only your team but also your team members. Keep in mind that every individual is talented and can bring something new to the table. You need to help them develop and demonstrate their skills.
How will you offer support to every person in your team?
Following are a few methods you can use:
Keep open communication channels; let your team feel free to share ideas. If there are direct lines of communication, everyone in your group will be comfortable to have discussions. If they come to you with a problem or concern, always take time to listen and offer your support and empathy.
Act as a mentor or coach. Guide your team members on how they can achieve the desired results. And empower them to make decisions and provide support to implement their ideas.
Customize your approach as per the needs of individuals. Some team members may be excited by money, while others by change or challenging assignments. You may have to alter training, learning opportunities, and personal development plan as per the individual.
3. Inspirational Motivation
Inspirational motivation is your ability to develop confidence and motivation in your employees. It comprises of your skill to create a positive work environment, increase the engagement level of your employees, and enhance team spirit.
To start cultivating an encouraging culture, you should have a clearly defined vision that inspires and motivates your employees. Remember, the set of values in your vision is the foundation of your transformation journey. You need to articulate it such that your employees become passionate about achieving its objectives.
How do you develop such enthusiasm in your employees for your vision?
You need to have clearly defined expectations. This allows your team to have a sense of purpose and meaning to invest extra effort in their tasks. Also, be optimistic about the capabilities of your team members. When you are positive about their skills and abilities, they perform beyond expectations by taking up challenges and fulfilling them.
Following are a couple of practical tips to practice inspirational motivation:
Share an inspirational quote with your team members every day as they get closer to their goals.
Exhibit your excitement and provide incremental rewards like a bonus or a team outing if there is marked progress towards attaining the goal.
Watch this video to find out more about how you can inspire your employees:
4. Idealized Influence
In simple words, idealized influence is to “lead by example.” Your goal, as a transformational leader, is to influence people for a positive change. Hence, you need to practice what you preach and be a role model that your employees want to emulate.
To have a transformational effect, you need to win the trust and respect of your subordinates through what you do and how you act. Hence, you need to set high standards of ethical behavior and develop an approach of integrity in all your actions. Remember, when you are a transformational leader, people strive to be like you.
Following are a few realistic suggestions to develop idealized influence :
– Work towards your vision with as much commitment and passion as you expect from your employees. Do not hesitate to walk the extra mile, like stretching your working hours or attending an additional meeting to attain your goals.
– Reach to work earlier than everyone on your team. Do not leave the office until everyone else has left, or you are sure they will not need your assistance for completing their work.
– Follow all compliance and security procedures of your organization. Do not take advantage of your role and position under any circumstances.
– Resolve issues involving a conflict of interests with complete integrity. Do not practice unethical conduct for personal gain.
Now, let’s have a look at a few leaders who exhibited a transformational leadership style. A study of their methodologies can go a long way in your development as a transformational leader.
Examples of transformational leaders
Jeff Bezos, Amazon:
The Economist magazine once published an article that featured an astronaut on the moon, delivering a shipment from Amazon. The title of the article read, “How far will Amazon go?”
What created such a brand image of Amazon?
It was the vision of Jeff Bezos. When you have a vision, which you believe and follow as passionately as Jeff, every step that you take will be to meet your vision. From production, pricing, marketing, to delivery to the final consumer, every strategy will be to attain the objectives of your vision.
Amazon, with its customer-centric approach, never chose short term profit or amended quarterly results at the cost of long term disadvantage. With such a culture, you focus all your energy to serve the customer and solve his issues, even if it requires you to suffer a short term loss.
However, having a vision isn’t enough. It should not be just a piece of writing on the office wall. Jeff inspires his employees by communicating his vision as often as he can.
Likewise, you should let every pour in your business breathe your idea daily. Don’t give up your vision even if you face some troubles along the way.
Steve Jobs, Apple:
You need to be a transformational leader not only to co-found a company like Apple but also to come back to it in a state of bankruptcy and make it one of the most valuable companies.
Steve Jobs started Apple Computers in 1976, was thrown out in 1985, and came back in 1997 when Apple was nearing insolvency. What was remarkable was that he had the qualities to transform the company all these years.
How did Steve achieve this feat?
Again, the answer is a laser-sharp focus on the vision. And then, having the ability to communicate the objectives to everyone in the company.
The special thing about Steve’s communication was its simplicity. Through stories, demonstrations, use of superlatives like revolutionary, incredible, unbelievable, and even sound effects like boom!
Steve influenced his employees by igniting a strong desire for work and sharing his passion with them. Rather than creating products that bring profit to Apple, he motivated his employees to develop devices that they would enjoy using themselves. As a result, under his leadership, every instrument that Apple created was a masterpiece.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft:
Satya Nadella has exhibited the qualities of a transformational leader right from the moment he became the CEO of Microsoft.
It was under his leadership that Microsoft developed a cloud computing platform Microsoft Azure, a Microsoft Office version that works on Apple iPad and a Microsoft Outlook version that works on iPhone and Android operating systems.
The recognition given to Microsoft by the financial markets is also a reflection of his success as a leader. The stock share prices of Microsoft reached an all-time high under Nadella’s leadership.
How did Satya Nadella change the fortunes of Microsoft?
When he became the CEO, he sent an authentic and emotional email to all employees, which allowed him to gain their trust and commitment.
Additionally, he conducted “ask me anything” sessions in which he addressed the issues, concerns, and questions of employees. He also discussed his weaknesses, ambition to learn lifelong, and his vision of innovation at Microsoft.
As a result, there was clarity of purpose amongst employees, and they aligned themselves with the vision of the company.
With his ability to transform employees and the courage to innovate and implement new ideas, Satya pushed Microsoft to new heights.
Reed Hastings, Netflix:
The co-founder and CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, is another classic example of a transformational leader. Reed has led the organization from a DVD operations company in 1998 to a colossal media-house. The stock of the company since its inception has increased by more than 200%.
How did Hastings work out the way for Netflix? Let’s take a look at a few steps that he took as a leader.
The Human Resource policies of Netflix reflects how employees reciprocate a positive culture at the workplace through passionate performance.
Employees at Netflix can work out with managers to take as much personal time as they want. There are no formal reviews, employees and managers converse about performance in their work interactions. Netflix offers market-based pay to its employees with no bonuses, and they are allowed to choose how much compensation would be in the form of equity.
Hastings also gave independence, ownership, and empowerment to his employees by making very few decisions himself. For example, the hit series “House of Cards” was approved for production, by the management, in less than 30 minutes because employees at Netflix laid a solid groundwork.
He challenged the status-quo of the television industry through his vision. He did not follow the established processes and procedures and redefined the way we watch television and movies.
Practicing transformational leadership gives you the power to influence and motivate people. Your employees will demonstrate high efficiency, job satisfaction, and performance with the positive work culture you built in this leadership style.
A strong vision, along with such a dedicated workforce, is the need of the hour, as every organization needs digital transformation to adapt to the rapidly growing technology platforms. This, coupled with the current business environment of social and economic turbulence, makes transformational leadership the ultimate methodology you can adapt.
What steps are you going to take to transform your business? How are you going to apply transformational leadership for the same? Let us know in the comments below.