October 5, 2016
Talent Talk is a regular column on employment trends written by Glen Esnard, the executive vice president and principal of 20-20 Foresight Executive Search.
This is post two of three in the leadership series. Read post one here.
In the first post on leadership, we reviewed the distinction between “leadership” and “management.” Management is the authority to run things, and can be bestowed by those senior in the organization. Leadership, in whatever form, signifies the existence of followers, notably followers by choice, and can only be bestowed by those followers.
Interestingly, of all the styles of leadership, the two most commonly studied and referenced are “Transformational Leadership” and “Servant Leadership.”
For the wonks, in 1978, James MacGregor Burns introduced the concept of “transforming” leadership, which became the concept of transformational leadership. The core concept in transformational leadership is the ability to align followers around the principles, mission and goals of the organization.
Following the ‘wonky” trend, Robert Greenleaf first proposed the concept of servant leadership in 1977, “the great leader is seen as a servant first.” The priority of Greenleaf’s leader is clear; it is the well-being of the follower, focused on helping the follower to develop into her “fullest self.”
One can easily develop a thesis that transformational leadership is most appropriate in a time of change, when it is critical the organization align around new ways of doing things. While servant leadership is more appropriate in times of stability, during which organizational growth and performance is substantially driven by the growth, development and performance improvement of the individuals in the organization.
Our research suggests they are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are deeply interdependent.
Our research surveyed over 300 commission-compensated real estate brokers. Why commission-compensated individuals? They are independent. They are disrespectful of conventional authority. Traditional management “command and control” styles do not work. They must be led, not managed.
The sample group was equally divided between commercial and residential brokers, men and women. We asked a series of questions about the manager that had the greatest impact on their career.
The results were telling.
The impactful leader had both a deep allegiance to the organization (Transformational) yet had a deeper focus on the well-being of the individual (Servant). The most effective leaders had an ambidextrous style, blending both Transformational and Servant leadership styles.
Was this meaningful? The average respondent believed this leader improved their performance by 36%. However, we erred in the survey. The highest performance improvement category listed was “greater than 50%”. Nearly one-third of the respondents selected that category. Therefore, the real performance impact is far greater than 36%.
As you recruit and develop your future leaders, irrespective of your industry, consider seeking those who have equal parts Transformational and Servant leader. Your organization will be far better off.