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Chief's Corner - week of Oct. 16

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Transformational leadership

 For each of us, there is a person in our lives who stands out,--one who doesn't just motivate us, but makes us want to be a better person.  They have a special something--a magic quality we admire or want to emulate.  It is hard to say what that quality is, but it is a strong source of motivation.  We all leave impressions on one another, but some people can leave a lasting impact on our lives based on the way they behave and interact.  In my days teaching Professional Military Education, I was introduced to the "Full Range Leadership" model.   The authors of this concept at Air University have put considerable thought into this subject and it is drawn from many leadership theories.  My meaning for this article isn't to replace their words but offer an interpretation of this concept through discussing the "Four I's of Transformational Leadership."  The thing to remember about these concepts is that they are about referent power; this means that other people see us to have these qualities.  The first concept addresses the power of words.
 
Inspirational motivation--This is the ability to inspire people through words backed by genuine passion.  We have all seen examples of this concept in speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President John F. Kennedy to name only two.  Both transformed a nation and their words inspired people to act, believe and have hope.  Not all examples of inspirational motivation are on that scale, but there are examples of this concept in action right here on Schriever Air Force Base. If you have ever felt very motivated to achieve a goal after hearing someone give a motivational talk or speech, chances are Inspirational Motivation was at work and it had an effect on you.  Like the name implies, inspirational motivation inspires people to act or be motivated.   Words can and do inspire, but the example you set can also motivate people.

Idealized influence - Simply put, idealized influence means that people follow you due to your work ethic or the example you set. They are motivated by it.   Idealized influence can be displayed by hard work, the ability to be resilient or calm under pressure, or just plain having courage to do an unpopular thing.  People take note of these things, even if you are unaware of it.  One example of idealized influence was portrayed in the popular HBO show "Band of Brothers" by the character First Sergeant Carlwood Lipton.  In this story, he was a selfless and genuine leader; this was apparent even in the midst of some of the most horrible conditions during the film's depiction of the Battle of the Bulge.  He was resilient, caring and put his people's needs before himself. Lipton influenced his people through daily actions and people respected him, and more importantly, wanted to be like him.  This created a very strong bond with his unit.  Each of us sets an example, but the question you should ask yourself is, does it inspire people?  This is a challenge since everyone is different, which is addressed in our next concept.
 
Individualized consideration -Individualized consideration means you treat people as individuals with different strengths, and do not treat everyone as the same.  This includes respecting the fact that people need time to be themselves in addition to having to be the same for the sake of the team (our Air Force).  This builds on the concept of diversity and can be a huge motivator for people.  The key to this concept is that you truly look to help all of your Airmen be as successful they can.  It also means that you respect each person for who they are, regardless of how different they are from you.  This does not mean to pick favorites. It means the opposite--inclusion and acceptance of the various talents, cultures and abilities of your teammates.  Individualized consideration means you don't take a cookie-cutter approach to leadership.  People respect leaders who take the time to get to know them as individuals.  They also respect leaders who challenge them to think.
 
Intellectual stimulation - This quality can mean you are respected for your intelligence and your ability and willingness to inspire ideas from your people and challenge them.  This is closely linked to innovation, a quality we will surely depend on in the future.  A key part of this concept is that it is about other people; inspiring others to think and rewarding them for their efforts.  President Abraham Lincoln was a great example of this.  He inspired others to think for themselves and rewarded them for their efforts when they succeeded.  A person who possesses intellectual stimulation dares you to become better than what you currently are.  The methods of doing this are as varied as the people affected.   When done right, intellectual stimulation builds responsible leaders who think and do for themselves, and create other leaders who do the same.  Sounds a lot like mentoring, doesn't it?

So some of you are probably thinking, "Do I demonstrate these qualities?"  Chances are you display one or more of these qualities without realizing it.  I have come to understand these concepts are linked to character.  Character is an important part of people wanting to follow you instead of just having to follow you.  If you show the qualities above, it is likely people will want to follow you--and that should be the goal of any leader.  Remember, the person you thought of who stands out in your life and makes you want to be a better person.  The person you thought of is likely a transformational leader.  Transformational leaders don't just manage people, they inspire their followers by words, lead and motivate by the example they set, they are admired for their ability to challenge us to think, and are respected for way they value people as individuals.  Transformational leaders don't just lead people, they transform them.   
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