I had the distinct pleasure a few months ago, to be part of a series of community-based discussions around the issue of transformational leadership where the objective sought to decipher the question, “What type of leaders do we need in Trinidad and Tobago?”
Though the question may seem open-ended, the use of skilled moderators with a keen understanding of the topic of transformational leadership added to the rich outcome of these discussions, and additionally to a personal renewal of hope for a community-based governance model with a national outlook.
Transformational leadership according to www.langston.edu, is defined as a leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in people and systems. Enacted in its authentic form, transformational leadership enhances the motivation, morale and performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms. In terms of personality traits transformational leaders pursue the betterment of their environment, get to know their team well, give people the tools to succeed, influence people positively by their life, are courageous, build consensus and help people to pursue common goals, find solutions to problems, help others to achieve the impossible, build the next generation of leaders, listen actively, increase followership, and bring about permanent change through co-creational, humanizing, aspiring, navigating, generating, expressing and synchronising conversations. (Judith E Glaser).
The series of discussions hosted in five specific communities resulted in fertile discussion, fuelled by the genuine concern for the current national trajectory. This concern, not solely political in nature, stems from a genuine need to strengthen the fabric of leadership and its indicators toward a stronger and more effective means of governance at all levels. Lance Secretan tells us that transformational leadership is ‘leadership with passion and purpose, higher ground leadership, new story leadership, leadership that satisfies the spirit or essential self rather than the ego, leadership that is lived not learnt, more about who we are than what we do, a powerful integrity-centred passion rather than a self-serving social self-function. He goes on to add, this type of leadership asks –How can I serve? How can I make the world a better place for people? It is about leaders who assist people to maintain balance and focus when the environment is turbulent, are concerned with helping people to identify, realise and sustain a dream, leadership that produces joy and satisfaction and touches the whole human.
The outcome of this first series of sessions saw respondents presenting the following as their idea of a transformational leadership style required of their leaders: owning up to and taking responsibility for their mistakes, leaders who are accountable for their actions, are down to earth (humble, able to interact with persons at all levels), are interested in the needs of people especially the grassroots people, leaders who remember they are there to serve the people, understand the changing dynamics of Trinidad and Tobago, are brave enough to spearhead major constitutional changes such as proportional representation, would do what is right for the country as opposed to their personal interest, are accessible to their constituents, have what it takes to make difficult decisions, can build self-policing teams, can co-create an inspiring vision of the future, who train and cultivate other leaders, can build self-policing teams and co-create an inspiring vision of the future.
This attempt to encourage the people of Trinidad and Tobago to embrace Transformational Leadership as a means of unlocking the power of developmental possibilities for our country will continue soon. You are encouraged to participate in this ground-breaking revolution in our developmental pathway.
Nicole Dyer-Griffith writes a weekly column for the Business Day.