In my leadership workshops, we often discuss the downside of the two extremes of leadership, my advise is to find the balance between transactional and relational leadership.
In a nutshell, transactional leadership centers on the nature of your role in the organization. It is anchored on output vis-a-vis compensation, or shared ownership of an advocacy.
Relational leadership, on the other hand, is anchored on mentorship, and behavior centered leadership. A relational leader believes that by nurturing a more than professional relationship, followers are more productive.
By being a relational leader, your primary consideration is the emotional well-being of your team vis-a-vis the objectives at hand. The assumption is, if the team is emotionally healthy, they are more likely to perform well. The downside, however, is the team may abuse the relational leader and hostage the task at hand.
By being a transactional leader, your focus is the task at hand, vis-a-vis the objectives. So whether team members like each other or not, the task is accomplished. The downside of this approach is heartless leadership
But is balance really possible? Do you really need to connect and establish a personal relationship to people around you to be an effective leader?
Transactional or Relational: Which One Is Better?
A better approach, in my opinion is not to get involve emotionally (if you can), but empathize.
Not getting involve emotionally is easily said than done because we are emotional creatures. People expect people to reciprocate their emotional overtures.
90% of newly promoted participants in my leadership workshops are investing emotionally to their team, they are also expecting their team members to reciprocate the investment.
But based on personal experience, 80% of team members consider their relationship with their boss as plainly professional (transactional). And that relationship is co-terminus with employment, or as long as the relationship is benefiting the career growth of the team member (mentorship).
So, new leaders like my workshop participants, might end up heartbroken or frustrated for being too emotionally invested.
I heard horror stories from leaders who were left hanging, back stabbed or worse, booted out, by the very same people whom they guided, mentored and helped in their career. In my opinion, this should not be biggie (leaders should expect the worse), but what makes this episode too difficult to move forward, is the emotional pain it brought to my acquiantances.
Likewise, I also find it unfair if you have team members, roughly 10-20%, who are emotionally invested to the team and to you as their leader, but you are not reciprocating the love. That is plain wrong. Good leaders should exert extra effort to identify these peeps, to be protected, guided and rewarded.
Having spoken my mind on the topic, do you agree that a leader who is relational by nature is more susceptible to mental health issues?
Care to share a leadership lesson of your own?
Founder of LODI Inc. (Learning and Organization Development Institute, Inc.) and Co-Founder of Blogwatch. Mentor and Dad of 2 Gen Z Professionals.
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