Internal communication is an instrument of strategy and helps leaders share their vision and values with employees. Successful communicators create a sense of trust and community with their people and engage them to move the business forward. The direct communication efforts of leaders and mangers have always been at the core of successful internal communication. While managers need the right skills to fill their role as an indispensable part of the internal communication chain, it is clear that not every manager is also a leader. New, highly effective leadership styles like transformational leadership depend on proactive individuals with charisma and vision. Digital internal communication channels like management blogs, video messages, live chats or employee apps combine many advantages like being fast, personal, authentic and interactive. This powerful channel is able to multiply the reach and influence of transformational leaders within every organization.
Transactional versus Transformational Leadership
To what extent is an employee engaged and to what extent is the employee committed to his company? How can employees be motivated to accomplishing extraordinary achievements? Performance and motivation of employees are decisively influenced by the prevailing management style. Leadership expresses the core values of a company and reflects the extent to which employees are valued within an organization. This relationship can be described and explained in more detail with the aid of so-called leadership models. The transformational leadership model has proven to be empirically and thus particularly relevant in practice. By contrast, there is the conventional, so-called transactional approach to leadership.
This Is What Transactional Leadership Looks Like
Indeed, the term transaction plays an important role in regards to this leadership style. Herein, the transaction constitutes an exchange of services and rewards between employees and the management team. While the staff is committed to actualizing the interests of the company, employees will be rewarded for these services with pay raises, training, promotions, or other extrinsic incentives, such as a company car or a company cell phone. As such, this is a clear exchange and this theory assumes that people are rational decision makers. In addition, management takes a more passive role apart from offering the respective reward and only intervenes when an intervention is urgently needed.
Thus, there are clear targets for action and the employee enjoys certain freedoms thanks to few interventions by the executive team. At the same time, extrinsic factors are only a limited incentive for many people, however. The pursuit of rewards may thus subside over time. In addition, resources for rewards are of course limited, wherefore it is hard to create additional incentives for employees, who are already receiving great pay, under transactional leadership.
Transformation Through Transformational Leadership
Thus, transformational leadership theory goes a significant step further. For the goal of this kind of leadership is for a transformation to take place within employees. The employees start setting higher goals for themselves and are not only driven by their self-interest. At the same time, the leader plays a much more important role. After all, it is their job to lead their employees to outstanding achievements and new heights. As such, the above-average performance can be explained by looking at each employee’s relationship with his superior. According to this theory, employees experience a high level of trust, loyalty, admiration and respect for their superiors and this motivates them to deliver peak performance. In transactional leadership, incentives are therefore rather of an intrinsic nature.
Transformational Leadership as The Management Style of The Future
By direct comparison, transformational leadership offers the decisive advantage that it speaks to the entire person at the value level and this type of employee motivation therefore runs much deeper. Simultaneously, the leader is much more challenged. After all, he or she needs to posses a large dose of charisma and the corresponding social and communicative skills so as to earn the admiration, loyalty and respect of his or her employees. The leader is therefore asked to rise to the occasion across the board. Without a vision, a transformational leader will not be successful, because his or her vision is the red thread for the employees to measure their efforts.
Can Transformational Leadership Be Taught?
The great challenge of this new approach to management are the complex requirements that are imposed on leaders. Many providers of leadership development seminars and management workshops suggest the contrary, but charisma is hard to teach and not everyone has a visionary streak. How can this concept nevertheless be used within a business? More than ever, executives with a long range in particular have to master transformational leadership, because first-class communication skills are now one of the key requirements for the top management of large companies.
Employee Communications via Digital Channels Becomes a Core Competence
New, faster and more direct formats such as internal social networks, videos, management blogs and live chats require leaders who are authentic, charismatic and honest. No one can hide behind a communications department, which creates polished internal "press releases" and thus blasts the workforce via one-way channels. You will not be able to turn every frontline manager into a transformational leader. This is also not necessary, because the transformational component can also come from middle or top management - as long as it is ensured that employees can actually be reached via the new digital channels. That is the reason why we do not see the employee app just as a source of information, but as a central tool for a new kind of leadership relationship and employee motivation.