Transformational Leadership: How to Inspire and Motivate Your Team

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When you’re preparing to lead a team, you need to adapt your leadership style to fit your group’s needs. Not every team operates in the same way, and they’ll respond differently to each leadership approach.

If your team is looking for an energized leader with a passion for supporting their employees, they will appreciate you using the transformational leadership approach.

This concept of transformational leadership relies on a manager who cares deeply about the success of the team and its individual members. If you think your team would respond well to a leader who clearly outlines the steps and common goals of the project and helps the team along the way, then this leadership strategy would work well for you.

The Fundamentals of Transformational Leadership

The root of a transformational leadership style is passion and inspirational motivation. The person in charge needs a deep connection with the project and the inspiration to get it done and get it done well. The leader brings their energy and spark to the project, which, when done effectively, inspires the team as well.

The leadership expert starts the project alone. They do all the heavy lifting by deciding how the project will get done, what steps need to be taken, and who will fill what role. In the opening meeting of the project, they lay out the groundwork they’ve already done so the team can easily follow and execute their vision.

Once the tasks have been handed out, the transformational leader is not content to sit back and let the team monitor themselves and do the work alone. They actively participate in the process by inspiring people, encouraging success, and assisting members whenever possible.

They have a very hands-on leadership approach, but when done correctly, this does not feel like micromanagement. Instead, it’s empowering to the members to know that they are truly cared for and supported by their manager.

They have a boss who is accessible and willing to intervene; they don’t have to be afraid of being perceived as stupid or ill-equipped if they approach the leader with questions.

Not every team will initially be excited by this type of leadership theory. They may roll their eyes when the manager comes into the initial meeting with all this passion and excitement; they may even see this as disingenuous.

However, the name “transformational leader” comes from the leader’s ability to transform their team members. While they may not initially share the spark and passion, these leaders encourage members to change the way they see the project and successful transformation occurs when they invest themselves into their work the same way their leader does.

It’s a clear example of the power of leading by example. Leaders create passion from within the group by proudly sharing their own in public and private aspects of the project.

How to Implement Transformational Leadership in the Office

This leadership style works really well when the team is in a learning or transitional period. If you’re running a group of interns or new hires, they will likely appreciate the hands-on approach to leadership.

This style encourages questions and asking for assistance, which will be helpful for a group that is still getting acquainted with the processes of a company. Giving specific instructions and organized structure to their roles will help them train for their jobs while on the job.

This style may not work well with a group of seasoned experts. Someone who is used to managing their own time and working alone will not enjoy having someone telling them exactly what to do and looking over their shoulder to hold their hand.

With this type of group, it’s best to let them know what the task at hand is, what they’re responsible for, and then letting them work solo. Let them do what they do best.

If you think this style will work well with the group you are currently working with, here are some tips on how to be a role model and implement the flow of this working relationship into your office.

  • Do a lot of the legwork. Before your initial meeting, you need to lay out and organize the project into steps, checkpoints, and goals. Split the tasks among the group, giving individualized consideration to who will perform each task the best, and give clear instructions for each task so the team member knows how you want each part of the project completed.
  • Give very clear instructions. When dividing up the work, write out instructions for the team members to follow as they work on their part of the project. If they aren’t familiar with this company’s particular workflow, they can use this opportunity as a learning experience so they can be more self-reliant in the future. While it’s important that you are available for questions, the more clearly you lay out the instructions, the less time you’ll have to spend assisting and fixing mistakes due to miscommunication later.
  • Hold check-in meetings to evaluate progress. After the first meeting, don’t just let the group members run free to work on their own. Set up one-on-one or group meetings at crucial checkpoints so you can assess the progress of the team and clear up any confusion any members might be having. If people are behind or ahead where they should be according to the timeline, adjust the future goals to accommodate for the change in pace.
  • Be accessible for questions. If you say you encourage questions, mean it. When someone approaches you with a question, be ready to accept that question so they are encouraged to come to you for help in the future. If you are not immediately available to help, thank them for coming to you, and let them know that you’re in the middle of something and will come to help them as soon as you are available. The best practice is to give them an accurate time frame, so they know whether or not to just wait or to start working on something else to pass the time.
  • Give assistance, but don’t micromanage. While this style relies on you being available to assist, you want the team members to complete aspects of the job they feel comfortable with on their own. Let them be autonomous when they’re able to so they can experience intellectual stimulation, otherwise you’ll be completely overworked if you try to oversee the progress of every team member every step of the way. It’s a group project for a reason; there’s no need for you to try and do it on your own through them.
  • Frame mistakes as a learning experience. If you’re working with a group who is new to the industry, there will undoubtedly be pitfalls, roadblocks, and mistakes made along the way. Don’t let your team members panic when they mess up; making mistakes is part of learning and growing. Let them learn and bounce back from their mistakes. These small failures will ultimately make them more accomplished and resilient employees.
  • Give credit to the whole team for a successfully completed job. When someone is in charge of a team, it’s common for the accolades and thanks to go to the project leader. However, it’s important that you give credit to the hardworking team members who made the success possible.

Finding Your Leadership Style

Rarely does someone draw only from one leadership school of thought. Effective leadership comes from someone who takes into account the needs of the team and adapts their style to meet those needs.

Transformational leadership might work well in your office, or you might need to adapt to fit your team where they are. If you’re figuring out your leadership style, WBD is here to help! We can help you on your journey of developing a style that fits the needs of your group.

 

Sarah Margaret Henry
Published in Career, Featured Articles

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