Promote transformational models of leadership.

The stereotype of military leadership is that it is very authoritative. There is an element of truth to it.

In any emergency situation like a house fire, someone drowning, or emergency room scenario, there is no time for discussion. Orders are barked out in just about any emergency scenario. Combat is no different. It’s an ongoing emergency that doesn’t provide much time for collaboration.

However, just like the fire department or the hospital, they not always in emergency mode. Neither is the military always in combat. Authoritative leadership in non-emergency time is not appropriate, nor in large measure is it practiced in either the military or civilian world.

The truth is, military leadership largely follows the transformational model. Transformational leadership is neither authoritative nor permissive. It is a model characterized as firm, fair, and nurturing. It’s firm in that it sets clear boundaries and expectations for performance. It’s fair in that everyone is treated equally.

Nurturing? Yes, I know! Who thinks of the word “nurturing” with the military! Trust me, there’s a lot of nurturing going on. Nurturing takes place in the form of encouraging others, telling them they did a good job, forgiving mistakes, giving multiple chances, having those heart-to-heart talks, and genuinely caring about people.

It has been shown in numerous studies that transformational models of leadership work much better than the alternatives in getting the best results out of people.

Businesses can absolutely benefit from transformational models of leadership. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t feel they have the time or resources for transformational leadership. So they stick with the transactional model which is essentially working for a paycheck.

In transactional leadership cultures, there’s little to no meaningful relationship with the organization. The vision has very little to offer the worker. Opportunities for further development, training, or promotion are limited. The culture is very mechanistic and impersonal. People generally prefer to get out of a transactional job, even if it means taking a pay cut. Why?

Because they hate their job. It’s not really the job itself. It’s the leadership and culture in that job. Few things kill a worker’s motivation to stay in a job than being subject to a culture of transactional leadership.

On the other hand, a transformational leadership culture can bring people to enjoy their jobs, despite the job being boring, dirty, or demanding.

Contrary to what many business leaders believe, transformational leadership does not require a large investment of time and resources. What it requires is a cultivation of the business culture. Now if a culture is highly transactional and the owners want to change it to a transformational culture, then yes, there will be an initial investment to do that because consultation and training will be required. But once the culture is in place, it is largely self-sustaining so long as it’s reinforced consistently. It’s important to understand that transformational leadership isn’t just a manager or couple of managers, it’s an entire business culture. That means everyone is engaged from top to bottom.

The benefits of transformational leadership are many. People are more motivated to not just get the job done, but to do it well. People are more innovative and creative. People tend to go out of their way more for the better of the organization. and people are more loyal and dedicated to their employer. A workforce of people sharing these characteristics are much more likely to propel a business to success and profits than a workforce that is unmotivated and can’t stand their job.

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