Leaders comes in many
forms, and great leaders span across organizations big and small. Although
there are many great leaders, it is my belief that certain leaders are more
effective than others. This may be due to preferences and the types of
leadership traits that motivates me as an employee, but my belief is leaders
that adopt transformational leadership qualities have a greater impact on
organizations compared to other forms of leadership.
Transformational leadership is that
facilitates a redefinition of a people’s mission and vision, a renewal of their
commitment and the restructuring of their systems for goal accomplishment. It
is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers
into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents.” (Leithwood, as cited
in Cashin et al., 2000, p.1)
Chen and Kanfer suggest
that transformational leaders motivate their group of followers by transforming
the values and priorities of followers and motivating them to perform beyond
their expectations (Chen and Kanfer (2006)). Transformational leaders
articulate an attractive future vision, infuse work with meaning, and inspire
followers (e.g., Bass, 1985). It is believed that a good transformational
leader can move their employees from the need to survive (Maslow’s hierarchy),
to elevated levels (Kelly, 2003; Yukl, 1989). While I agree that
transformational leaders have a direct impact on their employees I will be
focusing the remainder of my research on how transformational leaders can have
a direct impact on the proactivity of their employees.
Overall the way a leader acts
towards their employees in the workplace can have a direct impact on that employee’s
proactive behavior (Belschak and Hartog, 2010). Readings from House suggest
that companies in the 21st century will need to have team members
who are proactive.
organizations of the twenty-first century will need members who exercise independent
initiative, autonomous judgment and decision making, analytical thinking, and
innovative approaches to tasks and problems. Consequently, leaders will need to
stimulate followers intellectually and develop their competence and independence.”
(House, 1995, p. 425)
Beyond House, previous researchers
have shown that proactivity can be associated with positive organizational
outcomes, such as creativity (Chen and Hou,
2016), task performance (Weseler and
Niessen, 2016), job satisfaction (Anseel et
al., 2015), and organizational commitment (Saks et al.,
Effects of proactivity in employees
Research has shown that
proactive members of a team can have a positive impact on an organization, so
how does a transformational leader build a team of proactive team members? I believe
this is accomplished by the common traits that make up a transformational
leader. According to Bass, there are four elements that make up a
transformational leader, known as the 4 I’s. (Bass, 2006)
Idealized influence. Charismatic vision and behaviour that inspires others to
Inspirational motivation. Capacity to motivate others to commit to the vision.
Intellectual stimulation. Encouraging innovation and creativity.
Individualized consideration. Coaching to the specific needs of followers.
influence encompasses behaviors that instill pride in followers for being
associated with the leader. It indicates that a leader will go beyond their
individual self-interest for the greater good of the group and make personal
sacrifices for others’ benefit. A transformational leader with idealized
attributes displays a sense of power and confidence and is able to reassure
others that they can overcome obstacles. They emphasize a collective mission
and note the importance of having a strong sense of purpose. The members or
team of the organization often emulates leaders who possess idealized
influence, viewing the leader as a charismatic personification of the values
and mission of that organization.
motivation is the second factor of transformational leadership, which
incorporates those who talk optimistically about the future and articulate a
compelling vision for that future. They talk about what needs to be
accomplished, but express confidence that those goals will be achieved. A
person who uses inspirational motivation also creates an exciting image of what
is essential to consider. This type of motivational behavior encourages a sense
of team spirit, creating general enthusiasm—especially towards difficult
challenges. This factor of transformational leadership is especially pertinent
to the social sector because of the trying nature of the nonprofit world, where
enthusiasm and motivation are needed in order to maintain optimism throughout
all levels of the organization.
stimulation is the third set of behaviors and attributes, which implies that a
transformational leader seeks differing perspectives when solving problems, and
gets others to look at those problems from a different angle as well. Those who
utilize intellectual stimulation also encourage non-traditional thinking and
suggest new ways of looking at how to complete assignments. They often
re-examine critical assumptions to question if those assumptions are
appropriate and accurate. This factor of transformational leadership is
engrained naturally within the social sector because employees are often
attracted to certain nonprofits because they are cognizant of the direct impact
they can make.
consideration is the fourth and final factor of transformational leadership.
Those transformational leaders who display individualized consideration spend
time coaching and teaching their followers, and in doing so, promote self-development.
They treat others as individuals, rather than simply group members, and
identify the differing needs, abilities, and aspirations for those individuals.