Every leader needs a toolbox stocked with tools to help them build a successful team, and also successful and fulfilled individuals. These tools define the leadership blueprint. They are used independently or in concert, depending on the size and scope of the project. They should be used expertly, positively, and consistently. These tools define what type of “builder” the leader is in an organization. Here’s are the leadership tools I keep in my toolbox.

Tool #1: Authentic Leadership Theory
Be Real
Be Better

Authentic leadership theory couples authenticity with positive psychology via a leader who is true to who they are, will share their authentic self with those they lead, and will reinforce them with positive behavior (Luthans and Aviolo 2003). Authentic leaders lead from their belief system, values and convictions and are motivated more by inner conviction than ego or materialistic motives. This in turn motivates others to listen to the inner voice and be positive in their voice (Shamir and Eilam 2005).

I Believe:

I believe authenticity is a critical tool for motivating, teaching, and empowering. If you can’t believe in the person building your team, why be on the team? I believe my team should know me holistically. That means they sometimes know the good, bad, and the ugly. By being authentic, I demonstrate that neither victory, nor defeat- I’ve tasted both-define you or your future. I believe it’s important that leaders are vulnerable, sharing their experiences to help others know they are not alone in their journey, that they can survive and thrive in tough times, and that the future is what you make it if you listen to what your “authentic” self is telling you.

Luthans, F. & Avolio, B.J. (2003). Authentic leadership: a positive developmental approach. In K.S. Cameron, J.E. Dutton, R.E. Quinn (Eds.) Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline (pp. 241-58). San Frett-Koehler.
Shamir, B., & Eilam, G. (2005). What’s your story: A life-stories approach to authentic leadership development. The Leadership Quarterly.

Tool # 2: Path Goal Leadership Theory
Where are you going?
How will you get there?

This theory reminds me of a quote (by that famous person, “Anonymous”) “The person who aims at nothing is sure to hit it.” Path-goal leadership theory, is based on a leadership style that fits the individual team members and work culture, thereby increasing motivation, empowerment and fulfillment. This benefits the team, but also the person, and ultimately the organization. (House, Mitchell, 1974). This theory was developed Martin Evans.  (Evans, 1970).

I Believe:

I believe most people want to go somewhere, but not everyone can articulate the “where” or the “how.” A path-goal leadership style helps identify the destination, outline the steps to get there, and execute the steps efficiently. I help team members narrow their focus, determine the team’s destination, and guide them into discovering the best path to reach the goal. I believe that guiding, rather than doing, empowers the individual and the team, helps them “own” their part of the decision-making process, and creates inner satisfaction which will hopefully lead to greater personal satisfaction and better performance on the team.

House, R.J., Mitchell, T.R. (1974). Path-goal theory of leadership. Journal of Contemporary Business.
Evans, M.G. (1970). The effects of supervisory behavior on the path-goal relationship. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance.

Tool #3: Transformational Leadership Theory
Who are you?
Who do you want to be?

James MacGregor Burns first gave us transformational leadership theory, a leadership style that helps transform others into being better for themselves and others (Burkus, 2010). Bernard M. Bass further defined the transformational leader are one who focuses on the individual and who stimulates the intellect, inspires and motivates- thereby leading both the individual and the organization to greater levels of success (Burkus).

I Believe:

I believe it is critical to help others become their best, even when they don’t believe in themselves.  I once led a group of women for 5 years before moving on. When I left, the woman who had been the shyest in the room when I started- a woman who couldn’t even look the other team members in the eye much less speak up at the conference table- stepped forward to become the new team leader. She had realized in those five years that she was more than what she thought she saw in the mirror. I worked on transforming her to see and believe in  her talents, skills, and value. I believe THAT is transformation. And THAT is what gives me greatest pleasure in a leadership role.

Burkus, D. (2018). Transformational leadership theory. Retrieved from https://davidburkus.com/2010/03/transformational-leadership-theory/

Three Tools = Triple Threat
Better Teams
Better Organizations
Better Lives

These three leadership styles are similar. Each has unique components, but all work holistically to bring about

  • authentic
  • positive
  • goal oriented
  • empowering
  • transforming

relationships. This can happen one-on-one, at the conference table, in the organization, and if we get it right… in the world. It’s a triple threat, so to speak. It’s what I keep in my toolbox and I BELIEVE I’m helping build better teams, better organizations, and better lives.