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You are here: Home White Papers Emerging Leadership Perspectives

Emerging Leadership Perspectives

Emerging Leadership Perspectives

By: Malcolm J. Stubblefield

February 2010

The enhancements that transformational leadership offers organizational leadership in today’s global environments are enormous.  Most progressive organizations want leaders that promote and encourage fulfillment of follower needs, self-esteem, and job satisfaction.  For leaders to accomplish this task they themselves must possess and demonstrate having sound values and strong moral character.  Bass & Steidlmeier (1999) put forth that the foundation of moral leadership is circumscribed by the moral character of the leader, the ethical legitimacy of the leader’s values, and morality.   Considering how economies of scale have moved from a national to a global network linked by evolving technologies, transformational leaders transcend yesterday’s (i.e., transactional) follower expectations and experiences through a commitment to unity, helping followers succeed, and working for the greater good of both followers and the organization.

If transformational leadership is contrasted with today’s follower expectations as compared to twenty years ago the change is considerable.  Followers today are more concerned with job satisfaction rather than rate of pay (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999). This means followers want to be appreciated and lead in a manner that promotes their personal well-being; certainly feeling respected, having the opportunity to think for themselves, and being empowered to make decisions that impact their job responsibilities and performance are important factors.  Indeed, transformational leaderships’ enhancing potential is, and will be, an important aspect for effective organizational leadership. As society changes and a new generation of followers begin to take their place in the workplace, leadership prowess that promotes unity and recognition of human potential is a prerequisite for organizational success.

While the desire of transformational leaders is to motivate followers, the degree of genuineness that followers perceive the leader to possess, if high by their expectations, encourages them to feel inspired and empowered. When leaders discover, or at least begin the process for discovery  of their authentic self, they set in motion a renewed sense of self worth that inspires heightened levels of self-esteem.  To accomplish this, leaders must look into themselves – coming to grips with who they are – and shedding the desire to be like someone else. George, Sims, McLean, & Mayer (2007) put forth that people are more inclined to trust a person – their leader in this instant – when they find him/her to be genuine and not an imitation of someone else.  We all have heroes or individuals that inspire us to the point of wanting to be like them. But on closer evaluation those qualities that draw our interest or fantasies may only be what we see on the surface. When we have an opportunity to witness a persons’ true self, or the absence of genuineness, those elements of curiosity and admiration first considered positive traits may turn out to be mincing or conflicted (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999).

Just as a leader aspires to be transformational, he/she must make a commitment to discover his/her true self in order to move into the realm of authentic leadership, moral character, and ethical legitimacy. This means finding one’s true self – who you are when no one is looking.  Indeed, to be truly transformational and authentic, aspiring leaders must take the time to test themselves through the recollection of their own life stories – from which they glean meaningful information about positive and negative life changing experiences; by paying attention to genuine experiences encountered in their daily routines; and last, the desire and ability to reframe that information into a guide for rediscovery and moral discourse (George, et al., 2007; Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999).

As import as replaying experiential episodes of one’s life story, many leaders find the pivotal point in helping to reframe themselves comes from personal derailments that they experienced as their life story unfolds. Analogous to this process, which is a critical part of the adventure for self discovery, requires authentic leaders to keep a viable support team within reach – not sycophants, but individuals who will tell the truth without fear of reprisal. Equally important is the leaders’ commitment to listen and make personal adjustments accordingly.  Indeed, being transformational, coupled with the discovery and practice of authenticity, sets the stage for effective authentic transformational leadership behavior that enlists and promotes followership commitment and organizational best practices.

References:

Bass, B., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, character, and authentic  transformational leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 10(1), 181. Retrieved on February 7, 2010 from Business Sources Complete database.

George, B., Sims, P., Mclean, A., & Mayer, D. (2007). Discovering your authentic leadership. Harvard Business Review, 85(2), 129-138.  Retrieved on February 7, 2010 from Business Sources Complete database.

Wheatley, M. J. (2002). Leadership in turbulent times is spiritual. Frontiers of Health Services Management, 18(4), 19-26. Retrieved on February 7, 2010 from Business Sources Complete database.