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Transformational Leadership A Personal Reflection

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A Transformational Leader is a person who assesses a country, or organization/company, and recognizes the need for a change in the entity and is able to envision what this change should be. The transformational leader not only envisions the necessary change but has the required personality and strength of character that will enable them to influence others to buy into their vision and make it their own, and hence be willing to follow the leader in the quest to bring about the vision. Transformational Leadership can be defined as a style of leadership in which the leader identifies the needed change, creates a vision to guide the change through influence and inspiration, and executes the change with the buy in of the members of the group. Transformational Leadership is a partnership between leaders and followers who mutually support each other to reach a higher level of motivation.

This level of interaction of engaging in each other’s best interest has both ethical and moral benefits that are inspirational for both parties, hence the term ‘transformational’; its core is change and it has lasting changing effect. In the Jamaican context leadership has traditionally been absent, we moved out of slavery and the bacra master mentality pretty much stayed with us with the business owners being the new bacra’s as well as the politicians becoming the new imperialists. Over the last 30 years there has been a subtle shift towards leadership in corporate jamaica which is now evident in how companies like Grace Kennedy co ltd, and JMMB are operated leadership and indeed transformational leadership is starting to take place in Jamaican companies as they look to emulate a Grace and/or JMMB, in the political arena though Transformational leadership is lacking.

There have been isolated cases of Transformational leaders in the Jamaican political landscape, Mavis Gilmour comes to mind, also Edward Seaga, Michael Manley, Norman Manley, Alexander Bustamante, and if following the strict defining characteristics of a transformational leader, then Mavis Gilmour could be struck from the list, this list is made up of politicians from pre 1992, since 1992 we have had politicians who have been happy to preside over the same economic stagnation and rising crime, Bruce Golding was supposed to be the great transformational leader who was elected on campaign promises of change (BBC Caribbean, 2007) but he took charge of the country after 19 years of PNP rule and continued down the same path as his predecessors and arguably left the country worse than when he inherited it with our international reputation in tatters after the Dudus fiasco.

Jamaica needs a Transformational Leader, and from my point of view there is no politician emerging or entrenched that looks willing or able to fill this void. Emerging leaders who are change agents should exhibit some or all of the four (4) dimensions of leadership behaviour that are critical to the transformational relationship: a. Idealized Influence: This is critical young leaders need to take charge and lead from their own example which will in turn inspire followers to emulate similar behavioural patterns thus effecting change and boosting motivational levels within the political organization. b. Inspirational Motivation: This dimension is very critical in that a haven is created within the organization whereby a feeling of optimism and commitment is garnered which aids in the development of the vision.

The new leader will need to keep the creativity level increased if he is to lead a change initiative. c. Intellectual Stimulation: New leaders are often very zealous about leading a change initiative within the organization. However, the new leader must create an environment where there is a development of new ideas and solutions constantly flowing which challenges the old status quo and brings about competitive advancements which leads to the organizational survival. d. Individualized Consideration: The ability to pay close attention to the needs of followers especially for a new leader. This involves coaching them through issues becoming advisors while the followers actualize. I have yet to see any leader of either political party that meets this description, as Jamaican politics is still led by the person who is more willing to twist arms, bribe etc. rather than influence and inspire. Implications for Young Leaders

The absence of transformational Leaders in Jamaican politics to me suggests that there is a massive void waiting to be filled, any young person looking to enter politics should bare this in mind and strive to be seen as different from the rest of the politicians if this person can demonstrate moral and ethical fortitude, whilst a communicating a vision of change for their respective party and the country, and is willing to be patient and to stick to their values I believe that eventually they will be accepted by the country at large because jamaica has been without a transformational leader for so long.

Young managers in corporate need to recognize that the bacra master and transactional styles of management are no longer the best way to get the most out of there staff members, workers give their best when there is a sense of ownership, when your workers have bought nto the mission and vision of the company and they understand clearly what their role is in achieving the vision, that is when the modern worker will give their all, hence modern managers need to be more than just managers they need to be leaders, they need to be transformational leaders. Personal Career Reflection

I started working in 1991, and looking back at my career, I can say that throughout my career I have worked with both transactional managers and transformational leaders: 1991-1994 Sercom ltd. A service company that was contracted by Air Jamaica to handle baggage and cargo for the airline, the owners of this company were transactional, they didn’t believe in empowering workers, as a matter of fact they made it quite clear that it as there way or the high way, and they would regularly fire whole shifts and teams of workers, to get rid of one trouble maker, the message became clearly emblazoned in my mind do not rock the boat, don’t speak out in meetings especially when they ask for your opinion.

1996-1998 Manufacturers Merchant Bank a leading merchant bank of the time new and innovative, the Vice President in charge of operations, Adrian Keys was a transformational leader, he had a vision for the bank which he communicated effectively to the staff, he also asked for feedback from the staff and to my surprise based on my previous work experience he listened, and adopted the sensible ideas, these ideas didn’t necessarily change his vision but were more folded into it, and used to help get buy in to his vision, he empowered staff to be the best that they can be encouraged furthering education, and instituted a flex hour system for those who were going to school. Mr Keys also started in house training program whereby he brought IMP into the office to carryout departmental training during work hours. Adrian Keys was a transformational leader.

2010-Present Jamaica Yellow Pages, when I started with the jamaica yellow
Pages in 2010, we were mainly a print entity, the digital department had one worker. During our 2011 launch party, the chairman Mr. Randy French explained to the office that six years prior when the company took over operations of Lime’s directories the company vision was clear, become the leading producer of telephone directories in the Caribbean, and to produce a directory that was as complete and accurate as possible so as to provide a good user experience and to provide value for the advertisers. Mr French went on to apologise to the staff because as he put it with the technological advances that have been made and the wide changes in the media landscapes he no longer had a clear vision for the company, and indeed asked us staff members to send ideas to him.

In 2012 Mark Mcfee was hired as marketing director and at our 2012 launch he outlined a vision for the company as the leading online advertiser in the Caribbean and the leading website host, and social media manager in the Caribbean, he sold us on the vision and encouraged us to go along this path with him, he showed us how taking this path will help to provide job security for us, and made it clear how each department would be integral to bring about the vision. The digital department has moved from one employee in 2012 to twenty employees in 2014, and revenue earned from digital products has sky rocketed. Mark McFee is a Transformational Leader

Leadership Skills Inventory
The leadership skills inventory is a development tool which can aid in the identification of an individual’s leadership strengths and weaknesses, and will point to areas of needed improvement, I must admit that at first I felt that this exercise was a waste of time, but as I got into it I realized that this was an important tool that could help with my development. I personally completed the survey and I also asked my manager Desmond Anderson, to fill out an inventory on me, I instructed him to be candid, the results are tabulated in Table1 in the Appendix. My personal skill inventory scored a total of 379 out of 480, but the inventory filled out by my manager had me scoring only 283, barely over 50%.

High points on my personal inventory are Planning & Organisation Skills Inventory 34, Ethics Inventory 34, and Taking charge in challenging & ambiguous times 32. High points on the inventory filled out by my manager, was for Oral & Written Communications Skills Inventory 30, the only section that I was able to score 30 or more. My lowest scoring sections were Building Team Spirit 20 (Managers Evaluation), and Financial Management, Managing Vision and Purpose, and Building Team spirit all scored 29(Personal Evaluation)., It is clear that my personal view of my leadership skills and my managers views of my leadership skills differ widely and this exercise has left me with a lot to think about and work on in my journey towards becoming a transformational leader.

MBTI Preferences
The SJ personality type best typifies me, I am creative, flexible and free thinking, I am not shackled by rules, traditions, or precedent, I am also very self-confident and not afraid of failure. There are three sub SP management types, they are the Trouble Shooter, the Negotiator, and the Beach Master. The beach Master SP manager is a good description of me, I am good at working with people who are at war with each other and finding ways to get them to work together for their own mutual benefit, I am in sales and I have team members who are in direct competition with each other but I have to get them to work together for their own benefits as well as the teams benefit. Managerial strengths of the SP type are practical, expeditious, change oriented, adaptable, influential and observant, the SP has strong leadership traits.

Possible weaknesses for the SP type of manager, are poor attention to theory, precedent and details, and may be impatient with abstractions. SP Managers interactions with other staff members is characterized by frank and open discussion, other colleagues tend to find the SP manager easy to get along with, and open minded, eager to listen to other ideas, also confident and self-assured. SP Manager’s contribution to a management team, the SP is normally seen as a motivator to get things done, he is a planner and decision maker, and operations are apt to run smoothly when an SP is on the board.

Leadership Scenario
In the leadership scenario Lord Peppers there are four young entrepreneurs who are equal owners of the entertainment business Jamvibes, whose focus is on the promotion of uplifting stage shows. One of the partners, Lewers, engages “Lord Pepper” for their upcoming Portland Bash New Year’s Stage show, Lord Pepper is an artist that is known for his hostile and lewd lyrics. In addition Pepper is presently serving time in prison for a rape conviction. Upon returning from overseas, the senior partner Blake, learns about Lord Pepper appearing on their Portland show, while listening to an interview on entertainment tonight. The interviewer grilled Lewers about the fact that the Lord Pepper was recently convicted for rape, with Lewers trying to justify Lord Pepper’s appearance on the show. Senior partner Blake is furious upon hearing the interview and immediately calls a meeting with all partners

Major Issues
This is a partnership comprised of friends thereby making it difficult for discipline to be administered. Partners operating autonomously, and there is no business process in place for selection of artists or payment or requisitioning of funds. Blake was upset at hearing about Lord Pepper’s planned appearance on their show, during the interview as this was not discussed with the other partners. Brand & Image Management, Blake contends that Lewers doesn’t fit the Jamvibes Brand but Lewers doesn’t agree. Blake’s handling of this situation would set the tone for the success of the partnership in the future. In handling the scenario, it was decided that two meetings were to be held; one with Blake and Lewers and one with all the partners.

In the first meeting with Blake and Lewers, Blake’s aim was to not harshly criticize Lewers for his actions, but rather to get Lewers to acknowledge that despite his best intentions, his actions were not in the best interest of the partnership. The meeting with the rest of the partners was intended to achieve consensus about Lord Pepper not representing the interest of the company, as well as to provide some ground rules for how the partnership should operate in the future: Activities / projects should be discussed by all partners

A communication policy should be developed in terms of who should speak on behalf of the partnership All decisions are to be made in the best interest of the partnership. A proper business should be put in place to decide on artists to represent the brand. These changes in the managerial functions are in line with effective leadership, such as directing, aligning, managing relationships and outcomes among others factors. Lewers was reminded of the vision of JamVibes and the kind of music they wanted the brand to represent, Blake got him to buy back into the vision and then agree to drop the Lord Pepper contract.

The actual scenario went according to plan. Even with the introduction of the followers, the leader demonstrated control and was able to bring order and obtain consensus in relation to the issue at hand, as well as how the partnership should operate going forward. The take away from this scenario is to obtain a good understanding of the potential issues that leaders can face on a daily basis given that the organization is comprised of multiple personalities. Being able to quickly assess, analyse and getting the support of your constituents for a solution is the hallmark of a leader.

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