Are You Leading a Transactional or a Transformational Leadership Team?

I find the word TEAM one of the most commonly used words in business, yet it is elusively defined. In any given organization, there are multiple groups of people arranged together called “a team.” Each member of the group comes with their own definition of what it means to be given a seat at the table. Each has a unique perspective of their role, function, commitment, responsibility, and communication standards. These variables, and a multitude of others, combine forces and become the unique expectations one brings to that seat. Rarely do two individuals have the same definition of what it means to be a “team member.”

Transactional Leadership Teams

In my experience, I’ve been on two types of teams, transactional and transformational, with the latter being extremely rare. Transactional teams accomplish tasks such as projects, initiatives, department operations, goals, etc. In general, members lack deep trust, use positional power, rely on hierarchy to maintain order and control, and have limited openness in communication. As a leadership style, Transactional Leadership focus on their role as supervisor and organizer, driving the completion of tasks that help achieve group performance. They are concerned with status quo and the day-to-day progress towards a goal.

Transformational Leadership Teams

In contrast, Transformational Leadership Teams can also accomplish tasks and goals, but they do so in a way that creates a win-win experience for each team member. Leaders with a Transformational Leadership style work to enhance the motivation and engagement of followers by directing their behavior towards a shared vision. Communication isn’t guarded or defended; trust has been earned and is respected. Hierarchy may be present, but there also exists a general equality among members. There is a tangible experience of synergy and creativity when working together.

I have personally led and been a member of multiple transactional teams, yet the true achievement of a sustained transformational team is very hard to find. The kind of individual that thrives on a transformational team is a person who demonstrates a willingness to be open, honest, vulnerable, hard-working, passionate and compassionate. Inevitably, there will always be a mix of employees on a given team, making a sustained transformational team difficult.

Take a moment to evaluate your leadership preference for Transactional Leadership versus Transformational Leadership. What can you do as a leader to model a transformational communication style and provide the cultural framework for a transformational team to thrive? At the end of the day, it’s about your vision and your communication of expected standards. What kind of team are you creating? At Assured Strategy, we focus on supporting leaders with the tools necessary to create transformational teams.

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