Take a minute to think back upon the leaders in your life. Who inspired you the most? Was it a teacher who encouraged you to never give up and follow your dreams? Maybe it was a boss who challenged you to meet high expectations. If this person motivated you to do and be your very best, chances are you were in the presence of a transformational leader.
There are two leading leadership models: transformational and transactional. Transactional leadership is a common leadership model in the healthcare workplace. Transactional leaders are authoritative, and employees follow established organizational procedure to get their work done. Transformational leadership has been evolving over the past 30 years. Leaders who embrace this model build a work environment of mutual respect, growth, and creativity.
Set within a rigid hierarchy, transactional leaders set the goals and followers meet them. Managers and frontline leaders are told what to do and they are rewarded with money, recognition, praise, and benefits when performance expectations are met. If performance expectations aren't met, employees are reprimanded according to the gap between expectation and actual outcome.
Transactional leaders accept and maintain the existing culture, believe system, language, and group norms. It is rare that this type of leadership is truly inspirational, which makes it a poor fit for the healthcare workplace. Those who work in healthcare want leaders who are empowered to lead change, and there are many changes facing the Canadian healthcare workplace, such as an increased emphasis on patient-centered care, the implementation of electronic medical records, and the evolving mandates of Community Care Access Centers in Ontario. Furthermore, the Healthcare Accord is up for renewal in 2014, a new report on Canada's health system transformation needs1 just tabled with the Canadian Medical Association, and there is an increased emphasis on accountability with any federal transfer of funds. If you are reading this, you are one of a group of leaders who will facilitate the successful implementation of these changes.
Instead of following an established hierarchy, transformational leaders build an organizational culture where leaders and followers are interdependent. These leaders set the overall vision and then actively seek out input from team members. They trust their team members and give them the space they need to work and grow. Different team members take the lead on projects according to the task at hand and the strengths and interest of the different team members.
As the team mentor or coach, the leader identifies each team members’ strengths, challenges, and professional development interests, and tailors the workload accordingly. This intrinsic motivation unlocks a passion for work and team members discover a deep-seated desire to succeed.
The work environment is positive and team members are encouraged to be creative when tackling problems. The leader’s vision sparks deep interest and motivation in team members, who in turn feel fully engaged and passionate about their work. While the leader has high expectations, he or she clearly demonstrates how to meet these expectations and leads by example.
"Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader success is all about growing others."
The fundamental goal of transformational leadership is to develop team members into leaders. This could potentially increase employee retention, making transformational leadership an effective Human Resource tool for healthcare organizations with smaller HR budgets.
Transformational leadership can be embraced in any work environment. Here are 10 ways to implement a transformational leadership approach:
|Command and Control||Partnering for Performance|
|Individual Responsiveness||Team Responsiveness|
|Pyramid Structures||Cross-functional Structures|
|"Do as you are told"||"Own your work"|
Being an effective transformational leader all boils down to believing in your team and partnering with them for success. Play around with different ways of engaging your team members and have fun!
How has transformational leadership changed your workplace? Share your success stories and the difference this model of leadership has made in the comment section below.
1 Report of the Advisory Panel on Resourcing Options for Sustainable Health Care in Canada of the Canadian Medical Association, 2011
Hello Ellen, I was looking for some info around "leadership trends for 2013" and read your article. It made me think about a meeting I had with a client 2 days ago as some of the ideas that you covered, will be part of the content of a conference that we will have in February on Transformational Leadership. Since you are an Executive Coach, I thought that you can be interested in the ideas that will be presented by the speaker Lee Newman - Dean, School of Social and Behavioral Science at IE Business School. Here you can see the information about it. link: http://goo.gl/3yMCH