Embracing the duality of influence
To date, the literature of leadership has largely followed the lead of James MacGregor Burns in treating transactional and transformational leadership as dueling approaches. But research from Mills and Ridley found that neither of these leadership styles—transactional nor transformational—was the most effective influence builder. High-performance was most closely associated with leaders who sought influence by melding together the two styles.
This view is also supported by Marc Clapasson, an expert on the matter. He holds a wealth of leadership experience from working within companies such as Syz & co, Prime Capital, UBS, and now has a holding company called Lionstreet that explores how technology can disrupt the trade finance market place. His perspective concludes that the optimal path to making things happen through others is a dualistic approach, which challenges common census, and much of the leadership literature, but helps to explain why so many studies have produced conflicting findings – they’ve looked at the two schools as competing forces, rather than syngeneic.
So, if you want to build your influential power like Clapasson, think of transactional and transformational as two halves of a holistic approach. A leader following this dualism could take a collaborative approach to create strategy, deliver clear instructions and communicate the path that needs to be followed – step-by-step, in a professional and personal manner, and then serve as a guide and motivator for those charged with executing the strategy. To prepare yourself to wield a blended approach throughout your career to influence, Clapasson suggests you do these five things: 1. Know the people you want to influence. Spend time getting to know your team and showing them that they can trust you and work with you. As Stephen Covey wrote, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” 2. Aim to be liked and respected by those you seek to influence. People want to be led by people they like, but that does not mean becoming everyone’s ‘best buddy.’ Instead, be a concerned, engaged leader who is connected to both the vision of the organization and wellbeing of its people. 3. Commit to the people you want to influence. If you are not committed to your team, why should they have any reason to follow you? Find ways to show others that you are committed to them on a group level and on an individual level. 4. Engender mutual commitment to help influence thrive. Commitment works both ways. In order to influence people, they team need to be committed to you, too. Have conversations with your team to discover what they’re truly committed to and help make sure everyone is on the same page. 5. Be strong, focused, and a good example to those you want to influence. When you set a good example, people will naturally want to follow you. Position yourself as a leader with a strong goal and the ability to meet that goal.
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