What are employees' expectations of their leader?
When considering leadership, it is worth paying attention to two other important aspects. First of all, it is natural for a leader to make demands on his subordinates - he gives orders, criticizes and praises (which was discussed in the previous part of the cycle). He has a sacred (or secular) right to do so, because he commands and expects certain results in this system. The second thing, also completely natural, is what employees expect of their leader. It seems that the expectations of subordinates are more important in breaking down leadership, because if the leader does not adapt to them, he will lose his hearing and will have no one to lead. Since the previous parts of the series have discussed in great detail what a leader should be and behave, in this text we will take a closer look at what charisma is and why we want to see it in our leaders. Then we will focus on the characteristics of transformational leadership (as desired) and relate them to the transactional style. Finally, we will explain what employees require from their superiors. We invite you to read.
What distinguishes a leader from an employee?
In the previous parts of the series on leadership, the qualities, skills and behavior of a good leader were often enumerated. The talk was that he should be brave, humble, self-confident, empathetic, that he should have a vision and the ability to infect his subordinates with it, etc. Referring to the title of this article - it can be considered that all of this is a collection of things that make up the expectations of employees towards their leader. Among the previous considerations, one very important quality that we want to see in a leader was missing. A feature that clearly distinguishes the personality of a leader from that of a manager or an ordinary employee. I am talking about charisma.
What is charisma and what are its components?
Charisma is a kind of equipment of an individual that puts him in a specific relationship with the environment. It consists of many personality traits, manner of behavior, skills, which together make such a person attract many followers and can exert a strong influence on them. It is a natural force that predisposes its owner to become a leader. It is charisma that makes subordinates want to imitate their leader, and not only their behavior, but also values and beliefs change. Thanks to it, they feel with him in a certain way - they perceive him as someone special, better than them, they want to be in his presence, draw patterns from him and realize the vision he disseminates.
Until recently, it was believed that charisma was something to be born with, but nowadays it is increasingly indicated that it can be acquired through proper work on yourself. Of course, this is not a simple and pleasant process - it involves many sacrifices, laborious training of various skills, and sometimes also work on a therapeutic level - e.g. over self-confidence. However, all this effort may result in kidnapping the crowd and implementing the adopted assumptions (e.g. developing a prospering company).
What exactly is charisma? Many components of this leader's equipment are mentioned - in the literature on the subject, there are, for example, purpose, mystery, integrity (understood as honesty, authenticity, honesty, consistency), eloquence, presence or sensitivity combined with empathy. The first part of the charisma was Kenneth Levine, a professor at the University of Tennessee. Together with his team, he conducted research that identified the characteristics of a charismatic personality. Among them, he mentioned the aforementioned empathy, i.e. the ability to empathize with what the other person feels (emotional empathy), or to adopt their perspective and way of thinking (cognitive empathy).
Another important component of the charisma that emerged in Levine's research was the ability to listen actively. This is a very important feature, necessary to build good relationships with subordinates. It consists in controlling and managing one's non-verbal behavior (i.e. gestures, facial expressions) in such a way that the interlocutor feels listened to and understood. It is important to maintain eye contact during the conversation, show interest in what the interlocutor is saying, ask additional questions about what he is saying, paraphrase (i.e. repeat some elements of the other person's speech), do not interrupt, adopt an open attitude, expressing patience and tolerance . Such behavior causes that the person following the above-mentioned principles, obtains more information about the needs and preferences of the interlocutor, establishes more lasting contact and bond with others. It is important that all active listening behaviors form a coherent picture and that they are natural. If they are too sharp and redrawn, you can get the opposite effect to what you expect - it is really a very difficult art.
The third component of charisma - according to the aforementioned researcher - is enthusiasm, i.e., as the PWN Dictionary of the Polish Language indicates - the state of emotional involvement in something. Thanks to it, a kind of wave of energy and strength surge appears, accompanied by delight. It makes us engage in various types of activities and at the same time it is a source of pleasure for us. Enthusiasm in charisma manifests itself in commitment and faith in the actions, goals and missions that are being carried out. A good leader can transfer this state to his subordinates.
Another feature is self-confidence. It comes from accepting yourself - your advantages as well as your disadvantages. It is about focusing on the former, while being aware of the latter. And it's not about narcissistic exaggeration of your good points, but about using them in common sense. You cannot speak of a good leader who only focuses on what he is doing wrong. A charismatic leader knows his weaknesses, works on them, but does not make them the center of his activities.
The last trait of a charismatic personality is oratorical skills (understood as easy speaking). Due to the fact that leadership is mainly about "kidnapping" people behind you, it is necessary to have the gift of persuasion, that is, to formulate messages in such a way that others will believe and feel what the leader feels. Without properly communicating your vision and mission, it is impossible to win the support of the crowds.
As you can see, these aren't any mysterious skills to be born with. Many of them can now be developed at various types of training and courses. In summary, a charismatic leader is a person who, through his qualities and competences, makes people follow him, engaging in the realization of his vision and imitating his behavior and adopting values.
Transformational Leader Versus Transactional Leader - What Are Employee Expectations of Their Leader?
When it comes to the expectations of employees towards their leader, it is worth mentioning two types of leadership distinguished by Bass in his model of multi-factor leadership - transactional and transformational. Each of them is associated with a different approach to leadership and the people it leads, and therefore should be used in different situations and organizations.
Who is a Transaction Leader?
The transactional leader determines what his subordinates are to do to achieve their own and the organization's goals, determines the role of each of them, and initiates the structure. In this style of leadership, the motivation to act is strengthened by exchanging work for various types of goods - e.g. money, status, etc. Therefore, the main task of such a manager is to reward and punish subordinates, on the basis of which two factors of transactional leadership are distinguished: management by criticism (passive and active) and conditioned rewarding. The first one is catching and correcting errors (introducing corrective actions, if necessary). In such an environment, subordinates focus on maintaining the status quo, do not initiate changes and are not willing to take risks. Conditional reward, on the other hand, is based on awarding rewards for the effort put in and the work done.
It can therefore be said that transactional leadership is a kind of exchange process between the leader and his subordinates. Each side has different interests in this case - such a leader strives to be as effective as possible, using a juxtaposition of formal authority and informal influence. The subordinate, on the other hand, wants to obtain certain goods - e.g. a reward, resources, or a job.
What does transformational leadership mean?
Nowadays, the expectations of employees towards their leader are more oriented towards the second style of leadership distinguished by Bass - the transformational style. It consists in individual treatment of subordinates, intellectual stimulation, the so-called inspiring motivation by showing an idealized example. The first of these features makes the leader focus on the individual development needs and achievements of each subordinate. He can see its potential and direct it accordingly. Intellectual stimulation, on the other hand, means stimulating to intellectual effort, creativity and innovation. Various types of creative thinking techniques are used for this. Importantly, it is also associated with the inclusion of subordinates in the process of formulating problems and searching for solutions.
In transformational leadership, inspiring motivation is very important, based on emphasizing the contribution of individual subordinates, identifying challenges that encourage creative work and creating images of the future. The perfect example mentioned earlier is that of a leader who becomes a role model for others - he is respected, admired and trusted. He is a participant in all events in the team - he puts the goals of his members above his own, shares the risk with them - he is not only an external observer who gives orders and accounts for their implementation.
It is emphasized that in transformational leadership, the leader and subordinates interact and motivate each other to change. Such a leader makes others aware of the priority goals for their group and the entire organization. He infects them with his enthusiasm, encourages them to develop and supports them in individual initiatives.
Transformational versus transactional leadership - which is better to apply?
At this point, it should be noted that Bass himself pointed out that transactional and transformational leadership are separate, but not mutually exclusive styles. A good leader uses one or the other (and often both at the same time) depending on the situation. Therefore, leaders are expected to adapt their leadership techniques to the conditions and the people with whom they work. As research shows, the characteristics of a leader that make subordinates want to stay in a given workplace include, above all, appreciating and encouraging employees to actively participate in the life of the organization, supporting information circulation, promoting independent decision-making, influencing better work organization. They all rightly evoke associations with the transformational style, which is now described as more effective and desired by subordinates.
What conclusions does this bring for the main topic of this article? Well - subordinates expect the leader to be involved in the decision-making process, to be interested in their opinion and development, to be properly motivated and to indicate the path on which they should go (leaving a certain degree of freedom), and to provide feedback. It also turns out that the style of leadership can be learned. This was confirmed by research conducted by Dvira and colleagues, which examined whether the transformational leadership course will affect the behavior of leaders and the effectiveness of the team. The results showed that trained leaders had a better influence on the development and performance of their subordinates.
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What are employees' expectations of their leader?
When transferring leadership considerations to work, it is helpful to consider what employees expect from their leader. Very interesting conclusions on this subject were brought by a study conducted by the training company Exertus on over 300 employees of various companies. The main one may seem optimistic - employees receive a lot from their superiors, but - and this is where the less pleasant aspect enters - not necessarily what they expect.
In these studies, employees were to define what they expect from their bosses and what they actually get from them. The areas they had to address were:
- involving the employee in setting goals for his activities,
- assigning tasks to the employee,
- direct supervision of the employee's activities,
- providing ongoing feedback on the employee's work,
- precise delegation of tasks,
- friendly and factual provision of information correcting the employee's actions.
As it turned out, the discrepancy between expectations and reality is striking. Workers are over-controlled and do not have sufficient freedom to set their own tasks. Therefore, the creativity and initiative of subordinates is blocked, and the directive approach of superiors comes to the fore. It manifests itself in the belief that they know everything better - even how their employees should work. This differs from the visions of subordinates. Referring to the leadership styles, one can once again see confirmation that a transactional approach to team management is expected.
Instead of controlling and assigning tasks, employees would prefer to include in the decision-making process (including setting goals for their activities), expanding their responsibility, systematic monitoring interviews, including constructive criticism (see the previous part of the cycle). In this context, it seems very important to build the business awareness of subordinates by communicating the goals of the organization, setting goals for the employee's activities and the role of the employee in their implementation.
In summary, leaders face a very difficult task to meet the expectations of their subordinates. It's good if they realize what they should be like, what they should know and how to behave. For this purpose, it is worth learning the characteristics of a charismatic leader and the characteristics of two leadership styles - transactional and transformational. They can guide you to excel as a leader and help budding leaders take the right direction.