Anyone can have the title of Manager, Director, Principal or Dean. It is an occupation with tasks that need to be accomplished. However, a leader is someone who inspires and motivates people into action. A leader who is reflective in her approach and incorporates the essence of transformational leadership recognizes the importance of relationships between the leader and followers (Castelli, 2016). Relationships are the foundation of leadership and employees admire those leaders who embody honesty and who inspire and motivate action. A digital environment is ever changing and leaders in the 21st Century have the opportunity to build relationships that are steadfast to weather the challenges associated with change management. Employees become followers, when the leader’s actions and behavior are consistently open, honest and transparent.
Leaders that capture my heart and my soul are those that live by the phrase ‘honesty is the best policy’. As Kouzes and Posner (2011) postulated, employees that believe their leader to be honest will stand tall and beside that person when faced with situations of adversity in the workplace. When I understand and witness a leader’s honest interactions, I go the extra mile to do whatever is necessary to meet the goals and objectives set out by that individual. In my experience, when a leader is open, honest and transparent I trust that person. Trust is also a behavior promoted through a safe environment (Castelli, 2016). The leader’s role focuses on communicating with employees to provide non-threatening directions, build relationships among peers and acknowledge that opposing views are valued (Castelli, 2016). I appreciate a leader that encourages me to provide opposing views when agreeing with the majority may not be the correct or most effective solution. Sometimes new ideas and out of the box thinking occurs when any and all ideas are encouraged. I currently report to a leader who committed to building an environment constructed on trust and honesty. The results are amazingly positive. She walks the talk and I trust that she will follow through on her promises. I am not only motivated but also inspired to work with her and for the corporation.
Leaders who communicate clearly and who build self-esteem in others are in fact inspiring people to be the best they can be each and every day. Kouzes and Posner (2011) stated that leaders who show behaviours linked with enthusiasm, positivity and optimism are admired and respected by their followers. One of my fondest memories of leadership occurred 30 years ago. My manager explained to me that positive people describe their problems as challenges and all challenges have solutions. I have not forgotten those words. She inspired me then and continues to do so now. I followed her until the end, and I never waivered in my beliefs. She helped me see that I was able to achieve anything I wanted to achieve. This was done through her ability to build self-esteem not only in me, but in others as well. Building self esteem is fundamental in influencing a follower’s motivation to perform (Castelli, 2016). She was a coach and a mentor to me and others because she (a) provided positive reinforcement when needed; (b) gave feedback on strengths and areas of growth; (c) recognized successes; and (d) adjusted her leadership strategies depending upon the situation and the individual or team (Castelli, 2016). Over the span of my career, I acknowledge that the most successful leaders (defined as the ones who have followers) spend more than 80% of their time mentoring, coaching, listening, communicating and sharing with their teams. Inspiring and building self-esteem in others is an achievement that takes time, energy, and a passion for what is right in the world and what is right for the individual.
Thirty years ago, I did not understand the difference between a leader and a manager. Today, I as I reflect back on my career, and look toward my future endeavours, I acknowledge who I want to be when I have the opportunity to lead a team to inspire and motivate action in an ever-changing digital environment.
Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: A framework for improving organisational performance. The Journal of Management Development, 35(2), 217-236. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112
Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2011). Credibility: How leaders gain and lose it, why people demand it (2nd ed). Retrieved from: https://viewer.books24x7.com/assetviewer.aspx?bookid=43184&chunkid=179682918