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Transformational Leadership: Is it Really the Best for Business?

Sun, Jan 27, 2013

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Everyone is in awe of Transformational Leadership. It sounds great: Motivational, revolutionary and personal. After going over its core tenets and a few tips and tricks, is it really the best leadership style for business?

 

The answer is unfortunately a cowardly one: It depends.

 

Transformational Leadership for Business

 

Transformational Leadership

 

Ideal Situations

 

Creative projects thrive under Transformational Leadership. People are more likely to innovate if their innovations are recognized on an individual basis. A Transformational leader would skip the complex instructions and leave it to the follower to figure things out by themselves. In a situation where creativity is valued more than orders, this leader would bring out the inner creativity of an individual.

 

Long-term projects are also ideal for this leadership practice. Transforming a workplace requires time and a consistent set of employees. If you expect to manage a different set of employees every other week, don’t bother. Firstly, by the time you have invested in that employee, they would have already left, voiding your time and energy spend on them and giving them little value since they are no longer in your department. Secondly, it’s just plain impossible.

 

This form of leadership needs time before results show; it can’t be done overnight. With that said, this argument is not meant to prove that Transformation Leadership is harmful in this case, rather the time you devote into the upbringing of your followers is better channeled elsewhere.

 

For newly-transferred leaders, this leadership style may prove to be effective. This is especially true if the previous leader was a soul-sucking black hole of command. In the situation where employees are disenfranchised with management, providing a contrast to past experiences may help get things on track. It is important to note, however, that a balance must be struck. A leader attempting to be too ‘visionary’ or ‘motivational’ may put off some workers.

 

Not-so-ideal Situations

 

The converse to the above situations is mostly true. Repetitive tasks do not require a hero to come in and transform the workplace. It’s meaningless. The nature of these tasks disagree with this form of leadership

 

Be it fast food companies or one-off outsourcing projects, Transformational Leadership is redundant. At most, you can try to focus on employees that remain the business for a long time. However, it is in the nature of these businesses to have an ever-changing set of employees. Short-term projects are better off without transformation.

 

Summing up

 

Different situation=Different leader. As much as the Internet may tell you, Transformational Leadership is not a silver bullet. It is a time consuming process which requires a lot of energy on your part. At best, you would have wasted a bit of time and effort. At worst, you would have wasted a bit of time and effort which could have been used to actually finish the project.

 

Sometimes, other leadership styles can be effective enough in getting what is needed out of your team. It may sound fancy and trending, but the art of Transformational Leadership lies not in merely practicing it, but knowing when to practice it.

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