Our world has been turned upside down in a matter of weeks. Most of us are in a Stay-at – Home order within our states. I know for me remotely working is a new environment for me. My two children are a little adapted to working remotely since they both use iPad for school. They are both in high school. Dillon is a senior and Lexi is a freshman. The future is just a ball of chaos for everyone right now. We are looking to our government leaders to guide us or the medical professionals to help us but none of us really know what tomorrow will bring. This blog is not going to be about the doom and gloom or the high power leaders on the news. It is going to be about one of my teams at work.
Transformational Leadership is a concept that leadership is the process of inspiring a group to pursue goals and attain results (Muchinsky and Culbertson 2016). This leadership involves influence by a leader over the subordinates to help to empower them to become leaders (Muchinsky and Culbertson 2016). My company was not ready for some let alone all 196 employees to work remotely. Our purchasing teams have all been equipped for months with either a laptop or Surface to work remotely but support staff was not. We had a crash course 10 days ago to put the billing process into a remote access environment. This would have been a good thing had they stopped to talk to those involved with the daily process. But they did not.
My billing team is a team of six. Their main responsibility is to process invoices for our members. They process about 20,000 invoices a month. There are a lot of invoices but only about 9% of the total volume processed manually and electronically. We know what needs to be done and we get it done but everything is in the same room , same place and we do it every day. We know it so well our accuracy rate is 99.46%. Have I told you I have a great team?
Fast forward to last Wednesday and I have five of my billing team off site and one still on site. She did not have the internet at home ( don’t laugh, we have 13 employees who needed hotspots)so we needed extra equipment. Everyone is working through the bumps for the first 3 days until they start to run out toner and paper. Panic is setting in and we get them to stop by the office for paper and order toner. Each of them keep asking me if I am ok? How am I getting this done. I just keep telling them teamwork! I need you, you need me , the company needs us.
So yesterday my non internet employee wigs out and says she can’t handle the stress of working from home too much to remember too much to do. I invoice HR. Mind you she has 300 time sensitive invoices in her possession. Now I am wigging out. She tells HR she is taking the next two weeks off. GREAT! Where is my team work? I have a few on my team that are stronger than others in certain areas and some that may not be as strong but can offer more.
I have two that worked more hours then they should have last week and said that they would not log the hours because they were doing it to help me. I explained to them I truly appreciate all the help and that they are willing to do that for me but to be fair to them I need them to log those hours. They earned it. I have one who is an early riser and offered to start early to open up some time for the others. And then there is one and her name is Ivery. She is my strongest team member. She will do almost anything that I ask her to do. She never questions my reasons or the request. Just answers with “ Whatever you need boss lady”. So now you have a small idea of my team. Here is where it gets good.
I now need to tell them that only we are producing about a half of what we are used to because of the additional processes needed to work remotely but we just went down a set of hands. Now I called Ivery and said I need you to stop what you are working tomorrow and process the package you are going to get. I am overnighting 300 invoices that are late. Her response is ok I will get them in fast. She will also work to make sure everyone has work when we are in the office and when someone is out or behind she always steps up to help.
One part of the story that I did leave out is this person who is now on vacation is not a favorite among the group. That is not something that I tolerate. They are all expected to have a professional work ethic. Ivery is very good at maintaining hers. She did not ask me why she was taking on this work. All I needed to tell her was that she would be out of the office and I needed Ivery to help get it done.
I believe that I have become a very strong leader with both of my teams over the years. I have grown into my leadership roles. Part of being a transformational leader is to influence the followers (Northouse, 2016). In order to do this I need to be charismatic. Charismatic act a certain way that has an effect on their followers (Northouse, 2016). Charismatic leaders are strong role models for beliefs and values and they need their followers to adopt those same values and beliefs (Northouse, 2016). They also must appear competent (Northouse,2016). These leaders also have ideological goals and will communicate high expectations for the followers (Northouse, 2016). The find part to a charismatic or transformational leader is the ability to arouse task-relevant motives in the followers that may include such things as power, affiliation, or esteem (Northouse, 2016). I believe I capture all of these qualities that are needed to make me a transformational leader.
So where am I going with this long winded story. Well I know that Ivery is young and does not expect to stay with our company forever. I also know that I see in her qualities that will help her to achieve her goal of a counselor one day. Ivery has told me that watching me work full time, being a single parent and going to school has shown her it can be done. I challenge her daily to push to that next level. I encourage her to finish school. I show her appreciation for all her hard work and dedication. My goal is that I can influence her enough to one share these same things with some other young person. I don’t care if it is a management position that she helps them to grow or a counseling position. I want to see others grow to their potential and be a leader and create new leaders.
Muchinsky, P. M., & Culbertson, S. S. (2016). Psychology applied to work®: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology. Hypergraphic Press.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage.