Today more and more companies are realizing the need for authentic, transformational leadership (Northouse, 2016). Though separate, these styles are complementary and share many common traits, such as: self-awareness, positive modeling, positive moral perspective, and being values-driven (Minard, 2012). Emily Barry, a senior director at a Fortune 500 company, is an impeccable example of an authentic, transformational leader and demonstrates why such leadership is effective.
When Barry first inherited her staff, they could not be more different: varying ages, cultural backgrounds, genders, experiences and personalities. However, she proceeded with team-building activities to build trust, rather than “jumping into business” – and these efforts paid off. She created a place of trust through “mutual disclosure” and openness, and proved herself authentic, with behavior that aligned with her values and standards. As an authentic leader she displayed: deep self-awareness, compassion, balanced processing, internalized moral perspective, value-driven behavior, and self-discipline. She also consistently demonstrated four positive psychological attributes of authentic leadership: confidence, hope, optimism and resilience (Northouse, 2016).
As a transformational leader, Barry proved herself to be charismatic, articulate and clear of vision. She motivated her new team to align in vision and purpose, and to happily follow her, because they knew she had their best interests in mind. She engaged and connected with her staff on a deep level, so that motivation and morality was raised across the group – both in leader and followers alike. Whereas other teams had a transactional relationship with their leaders, Barry’s staff followed her because they liked her, believed in her, and trusted her. She enjoyed an idealized influence with her followers – her staff identified with her, admired her high standards, and wanted to emulate her work and leadership style.
Barry also prompted intellectual stimulation, encouraging staff to challenge status quo beliefs, and develop new, innovative ways of solving organizational issues. She encouraged staff to deepen their emotional intelligence in all four categories: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management (Bradberry & Greaves, 2005). In contrast with a one-size-fits-all leadership approach, Barry applied individualized consideration, taking the time to know her staff members and their fears, dreams and challenges, then helping them actualize their full potential.
What did Barry’s authentic, transformational leadership style lead to? It led to one of the most successful, effective teams in the company. Out of disparity came cohesion. Out of ambiguity came clarity of vision and purpose. Out of doubt came empowerment and motivation. Though many of her followers had less experience and education than other teams, they ended up being some of the function’s top performers. They also proved themselves more resilient, confident and positive – greeting each other with a smile and encouraging word. With her style of authentic, transformational leadership, Barry had created a culture on the team – and that positive, resilient culture made all the difference.
Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2005). The emotional intelligence quick book: everything you need to know to put your EQ to work. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 31.
Minard, R. (2012). Authentic and transformational leadership styles. Robert Minard Leadership Thoughts of the Day. Retrieved from https://robertminard.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/authentic-and-transformational-leadership-styles/
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 161-169, 195-204.