Walk into a company of any kind and you’ll see the usual: long hallways, offices, people scurrying around with thick folders in their hands, perhaps enjoying their work, and some perhaps barely waiting for the next coffee break.
Whether a brick and mortar or an online business, offering anything from medical to coursework services, the outer mechanics of an organization are similar.
What lies beneath these appearances?
Just like language is constructed on the foundation of grammar and syntax, which we normally use without conscious effort, an organization is a complex entity built on implicit mentalities, emotions, rules, and goals.
Who creates the unspoken culture of a company? The answer is not that simple.
It’s a constant interplay between the leaders and the team they are guiding towards success.
What we can all agree on is the pivotal role of the leader in motivating, inspiring, and organizing the team to fulfill a common goal.
1. Individualized Consideration
Self-esteem and self-actualization are two of the peak human needs, according to Maslow’s hierarchy.
Once we find a place we belong, a group that accepts us, we usually want something more. We want to excel, to stand out, to be seen and appreciated as part of the group and as individual contributors.
This is where the leader steps in. Individualized consideration is about seeing every member of the group as a unique person worthy of respect, attention, and understanding.
The leader also acts as a coach or mentor, providing support and empathy. Each of the people under their care feels like they exist in flesh and bone, not just as another cog in the machine.
This way, a leader’s frame of mind has to essentially be a humanistic one, where the puzzle can be solved if each individual piece is taken into consideration. Each employee is seen in a holistic way, with both strengths and weaknesses.
Unconditional acceptance is maintained at all times.
2. Intellectual Stimulation
A workplace or any group setting can become dull and predictable if actions are based on the same framework, without change and evolution in time.
Not only do leaders come up with new ideas, but they also stimulate the production of such ideas in others.
A mindset based on lifelong learning is one of the best assets for guiding and inspiring others. A leader sets the tone for the entire group’s perspective on the world, creating an environment where intellectual exploration is either encouraged or dismissed.
Both success and well-being depend on how much authenticity is recognized and rewarded.
Questions from the group, original proposals, and unexpected situations are all seen as opportunities for learning.
Open-mindedness increases as ego centrism levels go down. To maximize gains, excellent leaders see themselves as partners in learning and exploring.
3. Inspirational Motivation
Imagine working on an assembly line for medical equipment. Your work is repetitive, and it doesn’t take long until it becomes drudgery.
Then your manager comes and reminds you, loaded with enthusiasm, that through your eight hours of work today, you saved at least one hundred lives. How are you feeling now?
A leader can offer empathy and learning opportunities. But these are not enough without a motivational engine: a defined purpose and a clear direction.
Ideally, individual actions are united in a sense of purpose, a vision that the leader communicates with passion and with optimism. Each person feels like they are part of something larger than themselves, contributing to a common goal.
A leader never loses sight of the big picture, but offers the group enough instruction and feedback to work towards the collective vision.
4. Idealized Influence
A leader who advocates honesty, but keeps company policies hidden, will never gain the group’s respect. People learn in three ways: through personal experience, through acquiring information, or by following a model.
More than creating a good context for the first two, a strong leader operates through the power of personal example.
Strong values are essential, as they always lead to concrete behaviors that followers can observe and imitate.
A part of the leader’s respect for others is gained through showing integrity and ethical behavior, through their own particular blend of personality traits and values.
A poignant personality that offers others a model of conduct is more likely to instill respect and motivation.
These four ingredients have been described by political scientist James MacGregor Burns as setting the foundation for transformational leadership.
More than a series of transactions between leader and employee, transformational leadership is energized by a worldview where everyone deserves attention and respect, where learning is a continuous process, where a holistic vision of the goal motivates the group, and personal example is a key point in the organization’s growth.
Leadership is more than a series of steps and procedures. It is an organic, self-correcting, and essentially human process.
What Makes a Strong Mindset for a Leader?
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