James MacGregor Burns coined the term "Transformational Leadership" in 1978 to describe the ideal situation between leaders and followers. Burns wrote, "I define leadership as leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations-the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations-of both leaders and followers." The leader is not merely wielding power but appealing to the values of the follower. In this sense, values mean, "A principle, standard, or quality regarded as worthwhile or desirable," (Webster's New Riverside University Dictionary.) For leaders to be most effective in working with their supporters, Burns believes that they must motivate them to action by appealing to shared values and by satisfying the higher order needs of the led, such as their aspirations and expectations. Burns wrote, ". . . transforming leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the level of human conduct and ethical aspiration of both leader and the led, and thus it has a transforming effect on both."
Dozens of leadership theories exist - it will be helpful to you as you prepare to lead or enrich your leadership role to examine a broad range of leadership philosophies and strategies.
A secure leader recognizes that learning is enhanced when varied modes and strategies are applied to an overarching objective, project, or task. Through respect varied methodologies, the leader: 1) attends to individual differences among team members; 2) acts as mentor or coach to the team; 3) encourages mutual learning; 4) models the enrichment of listening, learning, and mastery. As an ongoing process, mutual learning becomes a benefit to leader and team members as each participates and contributes uniquely to enrich team development. The leader gives empathy and support, keeps communication open, and places challenges before the team. This process encompasses mutual respect among the group and celebrates the individual contributions that each person can make to the team. As this method evolves, each individual has an opportunity to self development with an overarching individualized motivation for their tasks.
With an emphasis on learning and ultimate mastery, leaders enrich team members by challenging assumptions, encouraging risk taking, and soliciting team members' ideas. In doing so, the leader is more likely to stimulate and encourage creativity in those with whom they work. They nurture and develop people who think independently. For such a leader, learning is a value and unexpected situations are seen as opportunities to learn. Team members then ask questions, think deeply about objectives, and develop enriched ways to execute their tasks.
A secure, motivational leader articulates a vision that is appealing and inspiring to followers. The leader challenges team members with high standards, communicates optimism about future goals, and provide meaning and context for the task at hand. In response, team members are better equipped to have a strong sense of purpose and are more greatly motivated to act. Purpose, meaning, and context provide the energy that drives a group forward. The visionary aspects of leadership are supported by communication skills that make the vision understandable, precise, powerful, and engaging. In response, team members are more likely to invest more effort in their tasks, are encouraged, optimistic about the future, and develop self assurance in their unique methods and abilities.
Consistent and reliable leaders render a role model for highly ethical behavior, instill pride, gain respect, and enrich an environment of trust.
Bass & Bass 2008, The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications
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