Transformational Leaders and Productivity
Transformational leaders are able to build the kind of relationships that inspire employees to perform at optimal levels in an organization. This partnership ultimately leads to the creation of a just culture. Motivation begins when the leader explains how his/her vison benefits staff personally thereby creating the desire in employees to begin the process and to see it through to fruition Overstreet, H., (1925). Success is determined by how well the leader can model the desired behaviors, build trust relationships and translate his/her vision in a meaningful way.
Let me tell you about how well transformation leadership worked at the Tower of Terror. This writer was contacted by a vice-president of nursing and asked for help. Her explanation of the problem was as follows:
- She had gone through every management asset in her organization and had failed to turn a particular department around.
- Physicians and surgeons would not admit patients to the department affecting hospital revenues and earnings.
- Her boss had held her accountable twice and she felt strongly she would not survive a third coaching session.
Most people are generally not that forth coming with me when soliciting my help. As she had been honest, this writer assured her of a good result. A MAC-CV analysis was performed to determine how best to turn weaknesses into strengths and move the department forward Pine & Galloway, (2011). Five managers were given the opportunity to turn the department around. Employees had been pitted against each other and labor relations were at an all-time low. In order to create desire, my vision for change was presented in this way. By a show of hands please tell me, who wants to do less work and make exactly the same amount of money. Everyone’s hand wet up. This writer told them that his goal was to ensure the success of every employee in the department. In addition, the writer would provide the knowledge, tools and equipment necessary for everyone’s success. Also, we would create the path forward together and every change implemented would benefit staff personally or we wouldn’t do it.
Then the writer moved on to a trust building exercise with staff. As a group, everyone was asked, how can you tell a good person from a bad person? Won’t a good person stand up here and tell you hey I’m good so follow me and won’t a bad person use the same strategy. How do you tell a good person from a bad one? The range of answers is interesting and provides insight into mindset of the group. Sooner or later, someone always get it right. The answer is behavior. A good person can be good on ad infinitum. A bad person must expend tremendous amounts of energy to appear good. They eventually fail and their true nature is revealed. These failures we’ll call flags. So I encourage all of you to look for flags in my behavior. The last thing said was, “We would share the pleasure and the pain together.” Little did I know what was in store for me later that evening. At midnight, this writer received a desperate phone call from his charge nurse.
- Two nurses had food poisoning and went home.
- The unit secretary was feeling ill.
- The house supervisor called and the department was getting six admits from the emergency department and could I help them?
I said, you bet and showered, threw a pair of scrubs on and headed across town. When I arrived, there were no new admits, all staff were present and the unit secretary had a big smile on her face. This writer asked where are all the patients? The charge nurse’s response was everything was O.K. and staff just wanted to see if this writer would come. The writer smiled and said, do you believe me now and they all said yes (they were looking for flags)! The last question asked was, do you want me to stay and be and extra pair of hands or can I go home and get some rest? To a man or woman, the response was go home please. Word of the event spread quickly throughout the hospital and my team spoke about that incident for months.
To make a long story short, by modeling desired behaviors, building relationships based on trust and by explaining my vision in such a way as to create the desire to engage in my employees, the Tower of Terror was renamed 4 months later by the physicians, “The Tower of Excellence.” This writer is happy to give credit for the transformation to the people who deserve it most, the staff.
Our final scenario involves transformational leadership and a United States Army master sergeant. Master sergeant T spent 3 tours in Vietnam, was assigned to the 101st screaming eagles and to the vaunted 82 airborne. He later became a Green Beret and traveled to different parts of the globe helping people overcome the oppression of tyrannical governments. Toward the end of his career, he was selected to teach ROTC cadets leadership skills i.e. how an officer should lead non-commissioned officers and soldiers. He was a transformational leader who said what he meant and always meant what he said. Many likened him to a fine silver bell that always rang true. When cadets went on FTX’s (field training exercises) in the Florida swamps he was their guide and their guardian. Cadets traveled to these exercises in the back of 2 ½ ton truck without a canvas cover. During rainstorms, master sergeant T could always be found in the back with the cadets. More often than not T had given his rain slicker to a cadet to help him/her prevent hypothermia. He always gave of his time and his talents to help his cadets improve. He created desire by setting the example, building relationships based on trust and extolling a vision of a country protected by strong leaders. He was a leader whom this writer would have followed through the very gates of hell had that been necessary. The insights gained from his style of leadership, set the foundation for every future success this writer has ever experienced. This is one instance where the man and the model existed in perfect harmony.
In conclusion, transformational leaders can explain their vision in a way that creates the desire to engage on the part of staff. They do not rely on personal authority to motivate others rather they build relationship based on trust and inspire others to action by setting the standard for behavior in the department. In this way a transformational leader creates followers not subordinates who will step up even if they must make a personal sacrifice to do so.
Overstreet, H. (1925). Influencing Human Behavior; W.W. Norton, N.Y., New York, 1925.
Pine, A., & Galloway, F. (2011). Nursing’s Ultimate Guide to Productivity & Satisfaction.