In one of my previous blog posts, I briefly mentioned how I observed components of transformational leadership amongst my superiors and supervisor at Tierney. A basic definition of transformational leadership outlines four components of the leadership style: intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence. Thus far, I have recognized that my supervisor and other upper-management employees have practiced individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation.
In my first week as an intern, one of the directors of my department came over to my desk to introduce herself. She had clearly read about me in the short bios that were sent around the office and made a point to discuss with me my major, school, and hobbies. After getting to know me a bit better, she encouraged me to always reach out to her if I had any questions about account management or the advertising agency in general. She said that I could schedule time on her calendar whenever I needed so we could chat. I thought her actions mirrored almost exactly the definition of individualized consideration; she made it clear that we can have open lines of communication and would be there to support me with anything I needed.
My supervisor also showed transformational leadership through intellectual stimulation when she put me on a project for one of her clients. I’m currently working on a competitive analysis for a healthcare company based in Philadelphia, which requires me to compile creatives, strategies, and summaries of campaigns for competitive healthcare companies in the area. Every quarter, Tierney presents this client a presentation with their competitors’ campaign overviews in a PowerPoint. My supervisor gave me the previous quarter’s presentation but she encouraged me to change around the format, play with the visual display, and add in anything that might be missing while updating the new competitors’ campaigns. Again, her encouragement is a direct example of intellectual stimulation and fostered an environment of creativity and exploration.
Utilizing transformational leadership in the advertising industry is especially beneficial. As I’ve touched on in the previous weeks, our projects are extremely cohesive and require us to work together both within and outside of our respective departments. By focusing closely on building relationships with subordinates, supervisors and directors create an environment of open-communication, creativity, and collaboration. Also, creating positive relationships helps inspire employees to succeed by creating an environment where they want to work.
Transformational leadership may fall short at a company like Tierney because, with such a close-knit environment, subordinates may lose sight of company structure and hierarchy. While it’s clear that employees generally do not exceed with an overbearing leader, a leader that is too charismatic or “buddy-buddy” may decrease motivation and cause employees to take advantage of their close relationship. For example, if a supervisor implements transformational leadership and develops a close relationship with their subordinates, the subordinate may start to take advantage of their supervisor and become less motivated to do their work. This tends to happen during group projects at school when you work with a group of friends versus when you work with acquaintances; you may take your friends less seriously and be more inclined to blow off work. On the contrary, if you do not know your partners as well, you may want to “prove yourself” to them and do the best you can on the project.