Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Transformational Leadership Behavior Enhances Employee Performance

Research by Dr. Adam Grant helps to highlight how transformational leadership can transcend people’s self-interest. The leader is seen as the enhancer of performance to create the reality of performance. His work focuses on understanding how transformational leadership's influence is enhanced with follower contact and how pro-social perceptions mediate this performance. Organizational leaders should understand how their behavior enhances that of followers to achieve higher level outcomes.

The fundamental responsibility is for all leaders to motivate their followers to achieve new heights (Vroom & Jago, 2007). Without motivation there cannot be action. The transformational leader can elicit inspiration to rally motivated effort around a vision. Effectiveness comes through the ability to motivate the most followers as possible to do and be more in the process of change.

Transformational leaders have certain behaviors that impact their ability to be successful. They can articulate a vision, emphasize collective identities, express confidence and optimism, rely on core values, and push for ideals (House, 1977). Such leaders understand that people must see the future, should work together, can get through the change, and focus on their essential value systems while trying to improve the environment. It is a process of adjusting behaviors and the environment for a more productive end.

Influence requires the ability to change reality. Ultimately, creating structural changes in worker’s jobs create and impact on performance (Piccolo, et. al, 2010).  When employees can make a connection between their goals, paths to performance, desirable rewards, and the vision they can put their behavior within context. Such behavior and performance creates a higher level of awareness and this develops group behavior which manifests itself in new reinforced group expectations.

Transformational leadership takes on different dimensions. It includes inspirational, idealized influence, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration (Bass, 1985).  Such leaders should learn to inspire, influence their environment, create intellectual interest and provide consideration to the needs of their members. Such behaviors help in the developing and maintaining of a progressive and developing network of followers.

Dr. Adam Grant (2012) found that transformational leadership contact with followers improved performance and perceptions of pro-social mediated this relationship. It furthers the argument that there is a relationship between leadership, job design and meaning making of employees. Leaders influence the perceptional boundaries between beneficiaries and worker actions. It would seem that strong communication skills, leadership skills, and relating task to performance with end user (i.e. customer) needs impact the success of that leader. The vision is a way for people to see and contextualize their individual parts in the whole process.
Bass, B. (1985) Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.

Grant, B. (2012). Leading with meaning: beneficiary contact, prosocial impact, and the performance effects of transformational leadership. Academy of Management Journal, 55 (2).

House, R. J. 1977. A 1976 theory of charismatic leadership. In J. G. Hunt & L. L. Larsen, (Eds.), Leadership: The cutting edge: 189–207. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Piccolo, (2010). The relationship between ethical leadership and core job characteristics. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31: 259–278.

Vroom, V. H., & Jago, A. G. 2007. The role of the situation in leadership. American Psychologist, 62: 17–24.

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