Giving Wings to Your Leadership Style | By CLAUDIA PEUS
Analysis presented by Enrique Quijano
Businesspeople can choose supportive leadership styles, despite apparent pressure to act as authoritarian task masters. Paradoxically, taking a more humanistic management approach often yields greater productivity than harsher styles. One term for such strategic support of employees is: Transformational Leadership.
Transformational leadership takes employees’ needs and special gifts into consideration. For example, a manager may solicit workers’ input in planning a project, or assign tasks based on individual workers’ unique strengths. This might seem inefficient – it takes time to communicate with staff, and the ideal employee is prepared to execute any task that needs to be done. However, taking time to cooperate with workers and distribute jobs thoughtfully pays off in greater efficiency in the long run, studies show.
Key to transformational leadership is the notion that people work best when they engage actively with colleagues and take an active, empowered approach to their work, as managers nurture employees’ humanity. Philosophers have provided conceptual grounding for this theory. Philosopher Immanuel Kant theorized that people do stronger critical thinking when they have greater autonomy over their own work (Peus, p. 21). Karl Popper championed a “mistakes-as-learning” style in which errors are not hidden, but rather recognized and studied as opportunities to improve future performance (Peus, p. 21). Gotthold Ephraim Lessing emphasized collaboration, even between members of conflicting groups; Lessing would likely endorse including diverse points of view from diverse employees. Taken together, these underlying theories support a humanistic leadership approach that encourages workers to develop into their strongest professional (and personal) selves, to provide the best possible service to their employers.
Peus presents six “touchstones” for implementation of transformational leadership. It’s important to employ these thoughtfully, as transition to a new management style can be disruptive. The touchstones include expressing the company’s core values to employees, and communicating how management plans reflect those values. A transformational leader must also convey meaning and vision to employees. For example, a newspaper company might list “integrity” as a core value, so that news readers would trust the information the company provides. A company vision statement might include a a plan to make news more reliable by increasing editorial staff, with more employees assigned to researching and checking facts, accompanied by publicity efforts to show the public how trustworthy the newspaper’s reports are. Another touchstone is fairness, including such elements as “procedural fairness” and “informational fairness” (Peus, p. 22). Procedural fairness means that everyone involved in company work has a fair chance of participating in decision-making and...