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Following the leader

Nicole Dyer Griffith MA Thursday, August 10 2017

As I write this piece, I am also in the midst of preparing for an event related to discussions around transformational leadership, and what this type of leadership should look like in potential leaders. In essence, this concept of transformational leadership utilises four key components including a personality that can be viewed as a strong role model, a personality that has the capacity to communicate high expectations to those whom they lead, a personality that can stimulate creativity and innovation, and a personality that provides a supportive climate in which they listen carefully to the needs of others.

Taking these characteristic traits into consideration, the identification of leaders who encourage transformation in every sphere can be easily made, this separate and apart from pseudo-transformational leaders, who tend to focus on their own interests, rather than those whom they lead. Over the last weekend, I was invited to attend a friend’s event, where she committed her personal resources, time, effort and energy into the development of young men and women in remote areas of Trinidad and Tobago, gifting them with the knowledge and expertise in digital media. This young woman was very clear in what she wanted these young persons to achieve, whilst having well-defined goals that must be attained.

Her desire to develop the curiosity and creativity in these young minds encouraged each of those youths who attended this event to create a five-minute digital documentary of their respective villages, focussing on the importance of their culture and heritage. The outcome of the experience was a complete and edited documentary coming from youths who had never entertained the thought of a creative future.

On the other end of the spectrum, I stood from a distance observing someone who was introduced as a ‘manager’ of a team sport, ‘in command’ of no less than forty young men. On the first few occasions I noticed this ‘manager.’ I was aghast at his tardiness, appearance, lack of communication skills, and lack of ability to interact clearly. Now, one would expect, when you are attempting to impart knowledge to a group of young men and women, you would do all you can to appear the part. You will be on time to impart time management. You will look the part, to teach professional appearance. You will speak the part to instill communication skills. You will carry yourself with some measure of assurance to impart confidence, and you will give respect if you expect to receive it in return.

Much to my amazement, this ‘manager’ presented the complete opposite of every character trait you would expect of and from someone attempting to impart growth and development amongst young persons. The question remains, how do we expect the ‘followers’, in this instance the young men, to advance when their ‘leader’, in this instance a ‘manager’, seems not to have a clue about leadership, development or the most basic tenet of preparing a unit to operate as a unit.

In many circumstances, politics (beliefs, opinions, views, dogma) plays a very significant role in the identification of leaders. In broad perspective, the politics of an organisation impact and influences the type of leaders that may emerge within organisations, and as an endpoint influences the outcomes of the organisation.

In the two scenarios identified above, the outcome of the first scenario presented balanced, clearly defined goals, inspired by a leader who was focussed on the individuals, who was inspirational and developed their creativity, resulting in a winning balance for most involved. In the second scenario, the ‘leader’, clearly not themselves able to appreciate how a ‘leader’ should present themselves, left those observing him with a self-centred, unclear and incoherent approach resulting in a demotivated and inconsistent outcome.



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