2: Theory in Action — Transformational leadership

A transformational leader is a leader who raises not only their followers’ motivation but also morality. This leadership style is the most apparent theory utilized by my direct supervisor as well as others who hold leadership positions within Frontline and WGBH as a whole. By raising both motivation and morality, the leaders within my internship organization are able to keep everyone committed to working towards a collective good, meaning both a societal good — keeping the public informed and holding people in power accountable — and a more personalized good — helping each individual within the organization reach their own potential. A specific example of my direct supervisor using transformational leadership can be exemplified by an assignment about fair use I was tasked with. Given the nature of remote work and the nature of the assignment, which required immense meticulousness and precision, it was not something that could be completed collaboratively. This being said, my supervisor provided me with feedback throughout the many hours it took to complete it, telling me when my assessments of fair use were spot on and encouraging me to keep up the good work. During this time, my supervisor was on a tight deadline herself, yet she continued to take the time to check in with me. I think it is significant that she took the time to check in with me not when I was doing something incorrectly but to make sure to tell me that I was doing excellent work. This feedback raised my motivation. Mortality is raised by the nature of the task itself, judging whether it is ethical to use copyrighted footage under fair use, as well as my supervisor encouraging and allowing me to contribute to the collective good to inform the people of injustice and ensure that all information presented is credible and accurate.

Bernard M. Bass’ defined four elements of transformational leadership (the four Is) as the following: Idealised Influence, Intellectual Stimulation, Inspirational Motivation and Individualised Consideration. I would describe the aforementioned actions as inspirational motivation, where my supervisor used communication to encourage and inspire continued action. My supervisor shows individualised consideration whenever she takes the time to get to know each of the interns in the editorial department (two others in addition to myself) and is happy to answer any questions we have, no matter how big or small. My supervisor also actively asks us about other work we are involved in beyond the internship, including university newspapers, and wants to read and share that outside work with others. She is focused on the common good but shows that she also has care and concern for individuals. My supervisor promotes intellectual stimulation by challenging me to think more deeply, challenge assumptions, and innovate. More specifically, she gives me tasks where I am editing and checking the work of people who are often high up in the organization where I have to challenge their reasoning and decisions. Journalism as a field requires you to constantly challenge assumptions and the things my supervisor tasks me with certainly requires this. Lastly, my supervisor has idealized influence (also known as charisma) because she has the ability to make me want to follow the vision she promotes, which is the goal of public media to help inform civil discourse essential to American society. This last element of charisma is also especially evident in the executive producer, Raney Aronson-Rath. In the meetings I have had with her, she has spoken eloquently yet was personable, she is deeply respected by others within the organization for her achievements and the example she sets for others, and she provides a clear vision and sense of belonging to all, encouraging each individual to follow the long-term objectives of the organization. Overall, I think the effect of the transformational leadership within Frontline can be demonstrated by a meeting where the executive producer announced that Senior Director of Strategy and Audience Pam Johnston would be leaving Frontline to become the next General Manager for WGBH News (so, she will still be within the WGBH organization as a whole). The executive producer and others in the meeting shared fond words and held back tears while discussing Pam’s departure but ensured her that she would always be a part of the Frontline family. This style of leadership allows all Frontline employees, past and current, to feel connected to the organization.

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