“If you want to be an effective leader, get comfortable fostering. Foster a culture of innovation, inclusion, collaboration, and creativity.”
Germany Kent aptly describes a profound leadership style that transverses all cultural and economic leadership norms.
What Germany described is my modus operandi, my method of operation at work in all my project endeavors.
Great leaders have evolved throughout history with distinct leadership styles in providing direction, implementing goals, and inspiring others. These are roughly classified into five categories:
- Authoritarian Leadership
- Participative Leadership
- Delegative Leadership
- Transactional Leadership
- Transformational Leadership
Naturally, I gravitate towards the Transformational Leadership style.
“Do what you say and say what you do.”
This is the motto of a transformative leader. A leader who inspires others to act but also creates an environment where people are their best selves.
Part of my life’s career path finds me as a Product Manager. Product managers have to juggle a lot of projects and work with a variety of different people. They are often the first point of contact for marketing, customer service, or other departments with questions about their products. Product management is about understanding what the goals are for your company to succeed and then ensuring that we, as a team, achieve those goals. It requires an ability to see how everyone’s work fits together into one cohesive strategy –just knowing product details is not enough!
How do I use this style when leading projects?
As a team leader, I am expected to find creative ways for my team members to collaborate effectively throughout the process from ideation through execution (whether it’s internal or external). I’ve found that the most successful teams are those where every person has a sense of ownership over their work and responsibility for driving results.
In all my projects, I strive to foster trust within my team while also maintaining high expectations. We build up each individual on my team by recognizing them publicly when they do something great — that way, everybody feels valuable, and we can grow as individuals too.
A few ways to foster this environment is by identifying members with potential leadership capabilities, recognizing them as leaders on my team and providing them opportunities to take on more responsibilities (while receiving recognition) or empowering all employees with decision-making abilities so that they feel invested in what I ultimately want — success!
I take a leaf from Steve Jobs.
I used to be a die-hard fan of Apple products. Well, to say the least, I still am though. Steve Jobs pushed brand loyalty to new heights by developing revolutionary technologies and emphasizing design and aesthetics. This was ground-breaking in the tech industry at the time, and it resulted in a consumer base that is fiercely loyal to the Apple brand.
Steve Jobs transformed his team to think outside the box and stimulated them intellectually to develop products that we didn’t even know we needed. The characteristics of Steve Jobs’ leadership style were his decision-making ability and adaptability, and in later years, he was willing to take risks appropriate to his achievements.
Transformative leadership style gives me an innate understanding that great organizations thrive on diversity at every level to innovate effectively — from creative teams charged with coming up with new ideas to organizational structures that ensure inclusion is embraced across cultural backgrounds and gender identities. As such, I can invest time into building diverse constituencies within our organization and community at large to not be limited by a homogenous worldview.
My leadership style is based on the principle that “transformational leaders focus primarily on building up individuals and creating an organizational culture where people feel valued”.
I believe this approach to management fosters higher engagement from my team, everyone wants to be recognized for what they do well! It also creates a sense of mutual trust and friendship in our team because we have similar goals: everyone wants to put out great work.
I can employ the transformative leadership style in my projects through these three principles:
ALTRUISTIC, AFFILIATIVE, and DEMOCRATIC (or ALAD in short).
ALTRUISTIC: I strive to be selfless, putting the needs of others before my own.
AFFILIATIVE: I foster trusting relationships through socializing amongst team members (or “catching up” as we call it).
DEMOCRATIC: I encourage democratic leadership by listening and communicating with team members about their aspirations and ideas.
These principles are what drives me to serve others and act with their best interests in mind, even when it’s not always easy for me personally. I believe that by being transformative, my team members will be more willing to follow suit and put themselves out there as well — ultimately making us all better humans, which if you ask me is one of the most important things on this earth.