Professor Ignacio Alvarez de Mon – Professor of Organisational Behaviour, IE Business School
This session on transformational leadership began by looking at vulnerability, which was described as just the opposite side of the coin to power. We need to accept vulnerability as a stepping stone to power, even if we can’t see it at that time!
The journey is based on four concepts: leadership (although the word is used to mean lots of different things), change/conflict (that we live in times of change, ambiguity & uncertainty when leadership is much needed), vulnerability (even if we’re reluctant to admit that we feel vulnerable), and personal development & growth (and how vulnerability has a positive outcome for both ourselves and the organisation).
Leadership becomes essential when people are uncertain about the future, are fearful, or when we face big risks. Drucker talked about how leadership is not about making friends and this is a good reminder that leadership isn’t easy and will come with plenty of frustrations and difficulties. Leadership isn’t just about exercising power and leaders aren’t necessarily the people at the top of the organisations as there can be leadership exercised at all levels. Good leadership is characterised by values, intention, results and consequences (asking the question ‘what is your leadership for?) and the means and actions (‘how do you deploy your leadership when nobody is looking?’).
To put this into practice, we were asked to reflect on our best boss and what they did for us. A quick and easy way to identify some of the elements of good leadership.
Transformation leadership was defined as looking for potential motives in followers, satisfying their higher needs and aiming to turn followers into leaders. Mandela’s first day in the office (as depicted in the film ‘Invictus’) was cited as a great example of transformational leadership.
Leaders require humility and a focus on something bigger than themselves. Knowing that we can’t achive things on our own is a great first step, helping us to be vulnerable and ask others for help (with determination and humility).