Applying knowledge of leadership styles to limit pain.

By Anne Welsh – Founder and CEO Painless Universal
August 31th, 2020.

Leadership, in personal life or in organisations, is important to deliver aspirations.  Recognising the type of leadership needed is required to prevent unnecessary pain in the journey to achieving those goals.

Let us begin by discussing transformational leadership as this style allows movement from one position to another position to occur.  The design is capable of delivering a change of outcomes. Transformational leadership motivates followers to move beyond their own self-interests and guide their behaviours to produce a desired result.  Generally, the motivation usually takes the form of integrating idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual motivation and individual consideration usually in the form of specific rewards that differentiate employees.

There has been much empirical evidence documented on how behaviours related to transformational leadership have a positive effect on individuals and groups within an organisation.  This positive influence requires consistency and frequent interaction of application with staff.  Efficiency will always come with some distribution of pain as individuals often sacrifice personal work-life-balance for the benefit of the company or the longevity of personal careers.

In contrast, the label of a servant leader can be attributed to a person who places the needs, aspirations and interests of his followers over his own.  By doing this, others in the organisation develop quickly and the goals of the organisation are therefore achieved.  This role must be well scoped out as it must enable the formation of many individual leaders who when combined, shape a positive organisational environment.

There are occasions when the previously described forms of conventional leadership are not sufficient to meet the needs of individuals in the organisational environment. This worshiping form of leadership came to the forefront in 1996 when academics identified qualities such as life goals, deep moral values, very high intellect and social skills to describe what is essentially a commitment to a singular person’s vision.  It smears the best of the leader’s personality and the organisation, allowing this vision to be imprinted on the followers with the result the objectives and goals of an organisation become symbiotic at all working levels.  The downside to this approach is that when everyone has this extremely high belief in the leader, when the religion is broken, the progress achieved can just as quickly become decimated as a sense of personal loss will occur. 

Finally, success is still being debated with the implementation of an Ethical Leadership (sometimes referred to as Authentic Leadership) style.  All previous styles of leadership mentioned take on some form of ethical components; however, this style is unrelenting in promoting appropriate behaviours in the followers, using a reward system and transparent communication to deliver a purely moralistic outcome.  The obvious question is how sustainable any organisation can be when interpersonal moral relationships between staff and leaders must be maintained.  Clearly, organisations contain a diversity of opinions on what is ethical and what is not.  How any succession of leadership can maintain or improve on that same level of interaction becomes a challenge.

At Painless Universal we are experts in the debate on complex leadership issues.  When one observes pain in an individual or an organisation. it is time to sense check what style is best needed to bring maximum benefit.  The definition of success is the key to increasing or decreasing the pain quotient.


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