Our world is interesting now with an unforeseen pace of change happening around us. Most of the time, we are at the receiving end and do our best to respond. Smart and wise people anticipate the change, make quick moves and win a large share of the pie. This behaviour does not come naturally to people and hence, one has to consciously learn them and put them into practice; as a result, one emerges as a transformational leader who delivers success.
The case for a transformational leader
Decades ago, people looked up to the leader designated by someone else and followed his or her words, ideas and instructions without an iota of doubt about the merit of the action. However, given the socio-economic changes prevalent, these norms are no more valid.
People seek independence, trust and fairness; they look for authority and need recognition for successes howsoever small they may be. These are universal and more significant than ever before. Hence, leaders have to adapt their style to suit the expectations of their followers and at the same time, deal with the constantly-evolving situations around them. It is a tall order for any human; one needs the power of multiple minds and perspectives to lead in this dynamic environment!
Thus, the only way before a wise leader is to involve the team in shaping the future course on an ongoing basis and build a culture of collaboration.
A few things have remained constant
In our childhood, we have heard many fables and understood the characteristics of a leader who is successful and celebrated. Accordingly, we form our ideas and shape them as we experience the world around us during the years of our growth into adulthood and our work life. Over the years of our growth, we notice that there are certain qualities that we must develop and nurture if we aspire to be successful leaders.
Every leader has to be humble, caring and strong so that the team looks up to the leader and feels confident that their interests will be taken care of to the maximum possible extent. They feel safe to share their thoughts, raise concerns and discuss their ideas with the leader. The leader listens genuinely and speaks his or her mind rather than trying to play it safe and avoiding disappointments among team members.
Similarly, a leader is respected when one is honest, unbiased and fair. These sound fundamental, yet many leaders fail these at times. They side-step uncomfortable issues and do not reflect on their thoughts and decisions; thus, lose the opportunity of making course corrections and growing stronger.
In the absence of these qualities, no leader can ever dream of being a powerful transformational leader who can influence the thoughts and actions of his or her team.
Can a leader train oneself to be better at influencing others?
We know for sure that the old-styled command structure of leadership does not work in the crucial situations of leading a team towards the organisation’s goals. The influencing style fares better on most occasions and hence, one has to sharpen one’s saw to make progress.
To begin with, one has to practise taking important decisions in a consultative manner. The team must feel that they were consulted and heard. They also must know that all the suggestions and ideas will not be accepted for implementation; some of them will be struck down. However, the process of consultation and listening builds the leader’s credibility and strength. The change agenda can be driven easier by such a leader because he or she has transformed the team into a network of minds that works together towards the same goal.
Secondly, the leader has to set his or her conduct as an excellent example in the firm. All of us know, that it is easier to preach than to practice. A leader is in a position to influence the team’s behaviours and actions only when his or her conduct is a benchmark in itself. For example, if the organisation expects its leaders across the hierarchy to be innovative, the leader must conduct oneself in such a way that teams down the line feel inspired to quote the leader’s words, behaviours and actions, and use those as benchmarks.
Charisma can be learnt!