At this very moment, there are many uncertainties. Uncertainties with the job market, uncertainty about a vaccine to beat COVID-19, and uncertainty associated with change. Living with uncertainty is slowly becoming the new norm. Today, more than ever, organizations are faced with turbulence, discord, and disturbance. Many organizations are simply trying to remain afloat, seeking new ways to facilitate change – cope, survive, and thrive. Leaders are tasked to facilitate change. Employees are asked to cope and survive in hopes they will have their jobs tomorrow! During these turbulent times, workplace cultures are hitting a brick wall! Morale is low, productivity is close to nil, and employees who have jobs, are working with fear. More often than not, organizational workplace cultures are designed on a leadership style that is encompassed with a top-down management approach. A top-down management approach is a traditional style of leading, where the managers at the top of a food chain make all decisions that impact the workforce and operations. Although the top-down approach has proven to be successful with a solid return on investment, low costs and managing risks, uncertainties are strategically not accounted for in projections. And companies that do create a buffer for uncertain events have limitations and boundaries because these events are temporary.
COVID-19 has thrown each organization in a whirlwind. Think about a tornado that spirals through your town causing damage and havoc. There is very little time for preparation and all operations are forced to halt. Everything is at a standstill for that one moment. As we slowly start to rebuild, new norms and customs start to take place. New ways of thinking emerge and naturally, we become grateful for simply making it through the storm! During a crisis, managers who believe their decisions and ways of leading were successful, before the storm, will naturally digress back to this leadership style which is not always productive. Top-down leadership results with micro-managing employees, rigid email communications, and sometimes seeing people as objects. People are not objects! We have feelings, emotions, and thoughts! On the other hand, transformational leaders see their workforce as people.
Transformational leadership is a style of leadership, in my opinion, that most closely applies to the belief “leaders are born.” It is a personality-driven leadership style that is suitable for individuals who thrive in change, chaos, and conflict. Specifically, they see opportunities during a crisis. Transformational leaders are successful because they
- Give Consideration: Every employee is equally important and is given the same amount of attention. In an organization, employee needs and growth are always considered.
- Talent: intellectual stimulation is an ideal characteristic of transformational leaders. They are able to easily tap into each employee’s talents and optimize their skills, driving intellectual stimulation.
- Inspire: inspire change by believing in change! Transformational leaders easily adapt to change. They are resilient change agents and can project risks and opportunities associated with change. Their active communication style mixed with transparency allows them to message change through inspiration. Their inspirational message regarding a change in policy or operations is accepted and believed.
- Motivate: Transformational leaders are known how to motivate with influence! Indeed, they are successful in working with grey issues and environments. As such, they train their employees to adjust successfully in changing circumstances and adapt to new norms such as working from home. Although every organization has individuals who are resistant to change, transformational leaders will give consideration and time to these individuals to help them adapt to change, while massaging changing norms into their daily routine! They will make change fun and incorporate it slowly into the day to day, making change happen seamlessly.
- Build Psychological Safety: Transformational leaders are motivational and influential! They are strategic in establishing a safe mental space at the onset. Every team member is not just given consideration, but encouraged to share ideas, be innovative, and transpire their ideas into the mission and vision!
Psychological Safety builds:
mental structure, mental flexibility, & trust
With all these factors combined, transformational leadership is needed now more than ever! WHY?!
- A strategic style that results in low turnover costs, high morale, and quality assurance in productivity!
- Engages every individual during times of crisis, including conducting daily employee check-ins not just centered around the mission, but personal care with the outcome of building a mental safe space to share personal concerns and ideas.
- Creates and manages change effectively, efficiently, and seamlessly; and inspire others to do so. Change becomes the norm!
- Incorporate new visions, strategize how to meet mission requirements quickly during a crisis, and do so by creating enthusiasm. Their ideas are easily conveyed and profoundly influential. Believing in new ideas becomes fun and exciting!
Overall, these are the leaders needed to strategically respond and recover during times of crisis! They build organizations on values of compassion, fairness, equity, and integrity.
Dr. Bina Patel is an Arbiter and an Organizational Health Strategist. Dr. Patel is the CEO, Transformational Paradigms, providing leadership executive consulting to C-Suite teams on establishing healthy workplace cultures. She also provides leadership and career coaching to upcoming leaders in organizations and millennials entering the workplace. Dr. Patel specializes in conflict management services, specifically consulting in how to reduce workforce turnover and workplace conflict, increase morale, and decrease costs in organizational systems to produce strong quality assurance. Dr. Patel works in emergency management. Dr. Patel is an author, public speaker, and consultant. She has published several case studies related to workplace diversity, multiculturalism, and racism in the workplace, as well as female suicide terrorism. Dr. Patel’s book on Female Suicide Terrorism: Understanding the Radicalization Process focuses on human behavior.
Bina Patel, Ph.D.
CEO Transformational Paradigms
Dba Bina Consulting LLC