Insights for Owner/Directorsby Adrian Banger
The very behaviours and ways of thinking that enable a business to get started may in time limit the Company's growth and ultimately lead to its demise.
A strong, task focused behavioural style, where the founder has a conviction that he or she is right and brushes aside the doubters, is invaluable in getting a business started. However, if the founder is not able to flex their style and recognise and nurture the talents of other people in the business then the potential success of the business is compromised.
The founders will find themselves tied to working in the business rather than on it.
What is Transformational Leadership?
Transformational Leadership emphasises behaviours that inspire and nurture others. It is a model of Leadership that meets both the challenges of a rapidly changing environment and the need to emotionally engage everyone within the organisation.
Transformational Leadership is about a range of behaviours that include:
- Developing and sharing an inspiring vision of the organisation's future
- Behaving in ways that bring out the best in individuals and teams
- Showing genuine concern and respect for others
- Continuously investing in the development of themselves and others
- Developing a culture of collaboration rather than command and control where change is welcomed as an opportunity rather than a threat
- Recognising that leadership needs to be demonstrated at times by everyone in the organisation
Why is Transformational Leadership important for Owner/Directors?
Founders of SMEs invariably become the "technical" expert of the business during its early phase of growth when they have the greatest knowledge of the products, processes and markets. This knowledge, coupled with a very hands-on, results oriented behavioural style, invariably drives the success of the business in its early years.
However, as the business grows and employs more people, the business owner needs to develop his or her ability to nurture and grow the talent within the organisation if the organisation is going to grow healthily. Whilst some people are naturally endowed with some of the behaviours and ways of thinking that characterise effective leaders, many of the skills of leadership can be learned and developed, given a desire to do so.
How can Owner/Directors develop Transformational Leadership?
The first step is to build an awareness of the benefits of investing in developing their "soft skills" and the consequences of not! This realisation may be triggered by many events, ranging from feeling that they are the only people capable of making a decision in the business to a recognition that major change is needed.
The next step is to identify what are the key characteristics of the Owner/Director's style, which of those are helping the business move forward and which are holding it back. There are many assessment tools available, including behavioural profiling, which can provide a non-judgemental base for discussion with the individual. Once the areas that will have the greatest leverage in ensuring the Company's long term future have been identified, a personal development plan can be compiled.
The final implementation phase of the process will vary according to the preferred learning style of the individual. It is unlikely that going on a course or reading "How to" books will, in themselves, lead to the development of the desired behaviours. Sustainable behavioural change comes from:
- Awareness of the benefits and consequences of different approaches
- Guidance in the development of new ways of thinking / behaving
- Support and feedback during the experimentation phase
Executive coaching, especially where the coach has the skills and experience to include elements of mentoring, training and consulting, is the most likely route to success.
ConclusionTransformational Leadership skills are essential for Owner/Directors to grow their business beyond the initial phase and flourish in the long term. The challenge is to get Owner/Directors to recognise that investing in themselves is likely to have an even greater impact on the success of the Company than many of the more traditional investments in manufacturing or marketing.
For more information, contact Adrian Banger.
(c) 2005 Adrian Banger