What is a transformational leader? How can you become one? “Do them today” actionable steps and tips are just a quick read away.
You are the key to inspiring and motivating your team.
It is called “transformational leadership”. According to the research, transformational leadership includes four components:
- attention to the individual,
- inspiration motivation,
- intellectual stimulation,
Of all the components, the data shows that “attention to the individual” is the most important.
This is key, whether your team is physically in the office or working from remote locations. Google has roughly 100,000 Googlers, working in more than 150 cities, spread out over 50 or so countries. Google surveyed 5000+ of their workers to measure indicators such as well-being, performance, and connectedness. Their survey results, as well as other research, confirm that employees are inspired and motivated by leaders and managers who really know and care about them.
What does such a relationship look like?
First of all, it is authentic, genuine. You, as manager or team leader, must be truly interested in connecting with your team members. Secondly, it is reciprocal. In other words, in order to get, you are going to have to give. You will need to share your personal information with your team members.
Many team leaders and managers worry that this will make them look “weak” in the eyes of their employees. While it could happen, the overwhelming evidence is that it won’t. Here’s why: for most employees, a weak leader is someone who is afraid. Weak leaders do not ask for feedback, opinions, or ideas. They behave as if they always know the answers. You get the picture, right? So, leaders who genuinely share are very motivating and inspiring—especially when they show that they also have strengths, weaknesses and challenges.
Here is an actionable plan of how to create authentic, caring relationships and then some ideas of how to use those connections to motivate and inspire your team.
Which personal information is needed
Anything that gives an in-depth picture is a good idea. What do your team members’ lives look like outside of the workplace? Ask about personal things such as family, hobbies, challenges/problems, likes/dislikes.
Also, find out work-related things such as when they would prefer to have team meetings (time of day, day of week), how they are feeling at the company, and what their long-term goals are.
Dig deep without overdoing it.
When to get personal information
One opportunity is at the start of a team meeting. In your agenda, build in 15 minutes or so for this purpose. Team members can share what they did over the weekend. However, this might get repetitive…and if there is more than one team meeting per week?
Another option, then, is for team members to answer an interesting question such as “If you were a food, what would you be and why?” There are many lists of conversation starters or ice breakers on the internet. Here is one list to get you started.
It is recommended to also include some one-on-one time. Is there a cafe or casual eatery nearby the office? Invite your employee for a coffee/tea/juice. Spend about half an hour chatting about yourselves.
You may wish to make a few notes about each team member, so you will have some “memory-joggers” at hand as needed for authentic, follow-up engagement. Simple Sticky Notes is a free phone app that would be perfect for this purpose.
Authentic, follow-up engagement
Without going overboard, continue the conversation. At work stations, in the kitchen getting a drink, at the photocopier, say things such as:
- “So, Dave, how’s that cooking course going? What techniques did you learn last week?”
- “Hi Sarah. Is your dad feeling better? Do you need some flex time to deal with anything for him?
- “James, I got interested when you said you had started playing basketball again after so many years. Last weekend, I had a game with some of my buddies. It was fun, but boy, was I sore the next day.”
Use the information in a compassionate, caring way. For example, try to schedule team meetings on days and at times that best suit your team.
If you know that team members have important, recurring events right after work (attending classes, picking up children up from childcare, catching infrequent trains or buses, etc.), don’t schedule team meetings for late in the day when they might run overtime. If it is unavoidable, give advance notice, so that team members can make any necessary arrangements.
If you can’t accommodate everyone, then a rotating meeting schedule is a great idea. In this way, everyone is inconvenienced equally and not too often.
Anyone can be a transformational leader, inspiring and motivating their team(s).
Transformational leaders cause positive change in people by forming genuine, authentic, two-way relationships with their team members, including an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and being attentive to their needs. The knock-on effect is teams that are inspired and motivated, leading to valuable changes in systems and organizations.