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Time for leaders to innovate and motivate out of the pandemic

Mostafa Sayyadi, Management Consultant and Business & Technology journalist
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The characteristics of transformational leaders, when used appropriately, represent an effective leadership and this leadership model can be effective to increase a knowledge-based workplace based upon developing and managing intellectual capital within organizations. Building on the transformational leadership model, organizations can attempt to continuously innovate and create new and valuable services or products through applying new ideas and knowledge. This article adopts a holistic approach to address the following research question: How can transformational leaders meet the need for innovative products and services? The answer to this question lies in a leader’s demonstration to facilitate the generation of new knowledge and ideas through motivating employees to more innovatively solve organizational problems. Moreover, transformational leaders inspire followers to rethink problems and challenge their current personal attitudes and values. Most importantly, transformational leaders transform organizations by attempting to change the basic values, beliefs, and attitudes of followers so that they are willing to perform beyond their previous or originally level specified by the organization in their job description.

Transformational leaders have been posited to be visionary leaders that attempt to develop a shared and inspiring vision for the future. Transformational leaders play a critical role in shifting organizations toward the creation of new services and products. These leaders contribute to new products and services to meet dynamic market needs, through higher expectations and stimulation for new and strategic opportunities to meet the needs of customers in the emerging marketplaces.

Unfortunately, while the characteristics of transformational leaders are positively associated with organizational innovation, it is somewhat underutilized in organizations worldwide. This is suspect and alarming because numerous empirical studies have found that there is a direct correlation between transformational leadership and organizational innovation. Many scholars highlighted transformational leadership as an enabler of innovation. Therefore, leaders that may not be utilizing the transformational leadership model which has been posited as a managerial-based competency for organizations operating in today’s innovative business environment can now explore the virtues of using this leadership model to improve organizational performance.

An Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills in 2017 found relevant information that may help leaders embrace transformational leadership. The task force first critiqued top managers and found them to be inadequate effective leaders. The report illustrates the weaknesses in leaders, such as failing to develop a clear vision for the future of their organization. Similarly, a more recent report on Management Matters in 2018 illustrated that top managers in the manufacturing sector scored the least in the very important organizational behavior tenet of people management when compared to two other areas of operations- and performance-management. This particular report highlighted that companies’ need to enhance leverage on human assets in order to achieve sustained competitiveness.

In both cases, companies have been ranked low in almost all dimensions of people management. After careful review of these findings for both empirical studies, the scholars recommend that companies must improve their human resource-related practices with a target of attracting, retaining, and promoting their human resources. This article suggests that the way for these managers and leaders, and leaders across the globe, to make the effective changes that are posited in the transformational leadership model. Furthermore, the recommendations of effective leadership are to focus on developing a strategic vision for their future strategic initiatives and organizational innovation. By accepting the challenge of transformational leadership, leaders may be capable to overcome their deficiencies and lead better in our hypercompetitive environment of today.

In conclusion, two important dimensions that leaders and all leaders world-wide can learn from this article are that the characteristics of transformational leaders can help followers to accomplish tasks that they would not ordinarily consider part of their competency. The question posited for top management executives and leaders in any and all organizations is to accept the challenge of transformational leadership in order to address the current gaps in leadership effectiveness and improve their competitiveness in global markets.

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