There are many different concepts of leadership, and much of what a person does as a leader is related to the concept to which that person subscribes. Some leaders are more interested in their followers than others, while other leaders are more focused on what they can do for the company and the bottom line. Neither option is necessarily the right option, because there are many ways in which leadership can be effective (Benson, 1994). However, for the majority of companies a leadership style that is transformational in nature and geared toward being a steward for the company is the best option. That is because people who are being led want to see that they are part of something bigger, and that they have value to contribute to the organization of which they are a part. If they do not feel as though they are receiving anything for the work that they are providing, they will become dissatisfied with their jobs and they may look elsewhere for employment satisfaction. Being a good leader is more than just telling people what to do and giving them a paycheck for doing it. Being a good leader means becoming a part of the organization and helping followers to feel as though they are also a part of that organization - everyone working together for the common good.
Transformational leadership is one of the most innovative concepts ever to be created. It may seem simple in nature, but it is actually very complex because it requires the leader and the followers to actually work together as a team. Leaders are not actually leaders if no one wants to follow them. They may still be in charge, but that is vastly different from being a true leader. When a true leader operates a company, people who work for that company are valued. They know their place, but they also know that they can and will be treated like human beings. They may have good ideas that they can share with their leader, and they will not be afraid to do so. People in this type of leadership situation can also discuss problems and concerns with their leader, and this is something that can be done respectfully and without treating anyone inappropriately or unfairly. Leaders who realize the value and benefits that come with transformational leadership are able to do much more with a company than a transactional or situational leader.
Within the scope of transformational leadership lies the concept of servant leadership. While this kind of leadership is often based on Christian principles, that does not have to be the case. Servant leadership is a stewardship style, where the leader and the followers work together to make the company something better than it was before. This is the opposite of situational leadership, where the leader is firmly in charge and each situation is dealt with as it appears, instead of working to avoid the situations entirely (Blank, Weitzel, & Green, 1990). Situational leadership is a practice of moving from one problem, crisis, or issue to another, repeatedly, and it lacks the smooth continuity of servant leadership. When someone becomes a servant leader, he or she is focused on the bigger picture and how everyone in the company fits into that picture. Problems can still appear, of course, because that is just the nature of business. However, when a servant leader sees a problem, he or she gets the followers together and they all decide what to do about that problem. A situational leader would be more likely to react to the situation by making a decision on his or her own and then telling the followers what that decision was and what they should do. Neither leadership style is necessarily bad, but the servant leadership style is more welcoming.
When a follower is receptive to what a leader is offering, then that leader knows that he or she is doing something correctly (Van Wormer, Besthorn, & Keefe, 2007). With the organization in question here, there is a great deal of power exerted over the followers, and the leader is very influential. The followers are very interested in what the leader has to say and what he has to offer to the followers as a group and to the company as a whole. Even though the leader has a lot of power, he understands the value of using it correctly and not making a show of how much power is available to him. That is one of the main reasons that he is treated so well and respected within the organization - because he truly understands the value of servant leadership. His style of handling problems and running the organization from day-to-day is one that is envied by many people, and deeply appreciated by his followers. He has little to no turnover in his department because everyone feels welcome there and they are not interested in transferring out. They may get paid more somewhere else, but they are skeptical that they could get the kind of camaraderie and good treatment that they receive where they currently are - and that is worth more to them than a raise in pay.
Because the followers are so receptive to what their leader currently offers, and because they all work so well together at this point, there would be no need to recommend a different strategy. It does not make sense to attempt to fix something that is not broken, and that would be the case if one tried to change the strategy that is used by the leader of this organization. The only issue is a cautionary one, in that the leader must be careful that he does not spend so much time caring about what his followers want and need that he becomes too much of a friend and not enough of a boss. There is a fine line there, and it is one that is not to be crossed because it can backfire at a later date. Even servant leaders who work closely with their followers as a team must still be ones to make the final decisions. Asking what their followers think and taking suggestions under consideration is not the same thing as asking the followers to make the decision. As long as a transformational, servant leader keeps that in mind, he will be much more likely to be a success in his organization for a long time to come. The people who follow him will do so because they want to, and not because it is there job to follow him or they will be fired. Following someone because one has an obligation to is far different than following someone because one wants to.
Many organizations have a mixture of transformational and transactional leadership styles (Miner, 2005; Tittemore, 2003). That is especially true in larger organizations where there are chains of command. For example, the department leaders who work closely with groups of employees may be very transformationally focused when it comes to leadership. Because they work in groups a majority of the time, they have to be more interested in what their employees have to say and what they want from them as leaders. The higher management may not spend nearly as much time working with others, and those managers may be much more transactionally focused because they make the decisions without a lot of input from a significant number of other people. They will be more likely to tell others what to do and expect it to be done, rather than talk to their followers and ask those follower what they would like to see done and what they suggest the company does about a particular issue or situation. Overall, management can function either transformationally or transactionally, but when both styles are blended it can work very well depending on the type of company or organization and the people who are following the leaders (Tittemore, 2003).
Someone who is an effective team leader will have specific traits and characteristics that are notable. One of these traits is empathy. When a leader has empathy, he or she is able to feel for another person. That is an important trait in any aspect of life, but it is very significant when it comes to leadership, because being a good servant leader means working as a team with one's followers. If there is no empathy and no understanding of what others are going through, teamwork becomes more complicated and difficult. That is not to say that people who are going through something difficult should be catered to or given a free pass, but only that it is human to experience problems, and transformational leaders want to bring that human element into the work that they do with others. Without the element of humanity, working with other people is mundane, boring, and can harm a leader because he or she will be perceived as uncaring and unfeeling (Miner, 2005). Neither of those traits…