By Professor Michael Teed :: Williams School of Business
Have you ever had a leader make a significant impact on your life? Think back on past leaders that you have known; it could be a supervisor, a coach, or even a teacher. Chances are that these individuals pushed you to become a more productive worker, a stronger athlete, a smarter student, or even a better person. There is no denying the impact a strong leader can have on you; in fact, their impact can be so powerful that inspiring leaders inspire others to become leaders themselves. Transformational Leadership is about bringing out the best in others.
There is an abundance of information on leadership, so much that it may actually be overwhelming. A Google search on “leadership” produced over 282,000,000 results. YIKES! That is a HECK of a lot of reading. How do we know which theories are useful and proven, and which ones might sound good but have no real leg to stand on?
One of the best leadership theories is called transformational leadership. Transformational leadership has two times more publications than all the other leadership theories combined and it can be coached! Transformational leadership is based on four facets:
- Idealized Influence
- Iinspirational motivation
- Iintellectual stimulation
- Iindividualized consideration.
I am going to give you a quick definition of each one and give you examples of how you can start putting the four facets of transformational leadership into practice during your time at Bishop’s.
Idealized Influence is characterized by building trust and respect from your subordinates. It’s simply doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. As a student, this can be done within a classroom setting. When working in groups, make sure to take responsibility for your actions, and if you run into any crises, address them head on. You can also develop a sense of purpose and trust by joining one of Bishop’s many clubs (e.g. Student Representative Council (SRC)).
Inspirational motivation is defined as leadership behaviours that motivate individuals to try harder and exert extra effort to achieve their desired goals. As a student, you can develop this by taking on new challenges in and outside the classroom. For those of you who are thinking of going to graduate school, push yourself to do extra work/research with various professors to build up your resume. You can also identify various key issues and actually do something to make them better. For example, would you believe that Bishop’s didn’t have a male hockey team a few years ago? A student identified this and actually built a team from scratch. This team now plays to sold out crowds on campus. This team is actually managed and coached by students!
Intellectual stimulation is comprised of leadership behaviours that encourage individuals to imagine different ways of doing things and to question existing practices. These leaders have the ability to question status quo by reasoning and generating alternative solutions to complex problems. As a student, you can participate in various clubs throughout the campus that will examine problems and come up with different solutions to them. This year in the business department, many students were having difficulties with various calculations in excel. They resolved this problem by organizing workshops on the topic. This is just one example of many presentations or resources that are available on campus that were designed to overcome various challenges for students.
Individualized consideration consists of leadership behaviour that demonstrates concern and care for others. Leaders who show individualized consideration are alert to the needs of others by providing them with learning opportunities and helping them develop themselves as individuals. Bishop’s is a small community and you will have plenty of opportunities to meet students on campus. Take the time to treat each person as you would like to be treated. Taking the time to help another student in need is rarely forgotten, even after graduation.
Becoming a good leader takes time and practice. Using every opportunity to develop the four facets of transformational leadership will slowly help you develop your leadership skills. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to get involved on campus, in and outside of the classroom.
Interested in reading more? Check out:
Psychology Today Article
Transformational Leadership (Book)