Self-Concept and Transformational Leadership

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Many researchers define self-concept as “Who are you?”  They go on to describe three self-concept components, attitudes, beliefs, and values.

Attitudes are described as things we like or dislike.  We learned these likes and dislikes through learned behavior.  For example, we tried eating a new ice cream and found that we liked it.  Then our attitude toward ice cream is that we like it.   Someone goes to an opera and does not enjoy it, therefore gains a dislike for the opera.

Beliefs are true-false dimensions. Your beliefs structure the way you view reality.  There is a God, your daughter loves you, and your spouse is faithful are all examples of how a person might view reality.

Values are ways you perceive right and wrong.

Self-Concept Development

Self-concept develops by communication with others, association with groups, assumed roles, and self-labels.  When we communicate with others, we are presented with ideas, attitudes, beliefs, and values of the other person or persons.  We evaluate these inputs against our own beliefs, attitudes, and values and determine if we agree or disagree with what we are exposed.  In the areas of communication, we obtain feedback both positive and negative and decide whether we agree or disagree.  If we believe we are a dynamic speaker, however feedback from others indicates that we are not dynamic we could use that information evaluate whether we are or are not dynamic and use the information to improve.

We can be labeled by whom we associate.  When we associate ourselves with a group of individuals such as a political party, social group, or university we take on the public perception of the group. If your part of a running group you are considered as someone who exercises and takes care of themselves.  People associate your self-concept as one who is concerned with your health.

When we assume a role such as CEO, manager, mother, father, there is a set of attitudes, beliefs, and values that are associated with the role.  Others will assume that you have those qualities associated with the role.  They will expect that you display those qualities.

We use self-labels to reinforce our beliefs, attitudes, and values.  These could differ from those that associated with the groups and roles we assume. In business correspondence, we communicate based on our knowledge, values, beliefs, and attitudes.  Do we trust the individual we are interacting with enough to tell them all the details of a situation or do we hold back and only release some of the information and wait for a response?  As an example, you are communicating with a client that you are unfamiliar with, and you need to inform them of a problem.  The language you use, how the letter is organized and the tone of the correspondence also comes from your self-concept.  If you do not care for a specific company or are having a problem with them your communication could be attacking.  If we have a high self-concept, we will not hesitate in asking others that know the client what is the best way to proceed or to look over our correspondence to ensure that we are making our point properly

 Transformational Leader Characteristics

Transformational leaders must have a high self-concept to lead others.  Transformational leaders need to articulate a shared vision, set high expectations, motivate, inspire, and challenge followers.  A leader with a high self-concept is free from anxiety, and the confidence, enthusiasm, and positivity that they exhibit are sources of psychological comfort for their followers.  Transformational Leaders must also be a role model.  Leaders must be authentic to become transformational leaders.  They must have a strong belief in their values along with high self-concept.  Transformational leaders must also intellectually stimulate employees to question assumptions, reframe problems, and contribute their suggestions.  If they are confident in their abilities, they will be more open to other’s ideas.

Types of Self-Concept

Transformational Leadership affects three areas of self-concept, Collective Self-Concept, Individual Self-Concept, and Interpersonal Self-Concept.  Collective Self-Concept relates to the group or team we associate or belong.  We have high Collective Self-Concept when for example, making significant contributions to the team is important to us.  Individual Self-Concept is where the individual has a high self-confidence in their abilities and are not threatened by others.  Interpersonal Self-Concept is defined as having a desire to help others on a personal level, the importance of keeping one’s commitments to significant people in their lives and knows that others value them.

Effect on Employees Self Concept

Will a leader’s self-concept affect their employee’s self-concept? One study to answer this question examined 385 employees of 43 hotels in China. They examined the effect of Passive Leadership and Transformational Leadership on employee’s self-concept.  They found that Transformational Leadership was strongly related to high collective self-concept.  There was also a direct relationship between Transformational Leadership and high individual self-concept where the individuals had more interaction with the Transformational Leader.  Higher self-concept among employees results in higher retention and performance.  Passive leadership was found to lower both individual and collective self-concept.  This lower self-concept resulted in lower retention and lower performance.

Results Indicate Action

Transformational leadership is an essential driver in an organization’s and individual’s self-concept. Organizations must first train and encourage Transformational Leadership behaviors in their leaders.  Transformation Leaders must have high self-concept and just as important, instill high self-concept in their teams and individual direct reports.

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Charles Coniglio
Charles Coniglio is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, researcher, Editor of Modern Talent Magazine, and Head Researcher of best practice talent management and leadership development programs. In his 30+ year management career, he has worked with global organizations in benchmarking, researching, and implementing best-in-class HR and Talent Management processes. Charles has a passion to provide organizations the tools, processes, and practices necessary for long-term sustainable success. I lead the research function at Best Practice Institute. In my role as full time Director of Research, I perform primary and secondary research, write research reports, consult with Senior Executive Board members and their teams, work directly with BPI clients in implementing research and implementation, development programs and more. Having operated as a Program/Project Manager, Operations Manager, Director of Programs, Business Development Manager, Marketing Manager, and Global Human Resource Manager over the past 30 years I am well aware of the difficulties associated with recruiting and retaining key personnel and keeping businesses profitable. I am very passionate about my desire to bring best practices to businesses and business leaders to make them successful. To solve these issues, I constantly research new trends, talk to successful leaders, share through writing and publishing articles and continuing to earn a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. I believe that knowledge is key and we can always learn new ideas and skills because there is never only one way to solve a problem or execute a task. I am always open to new ideas and sharing what I know to help businesses grow. Connecting with me is just a click away by pressing the blue connect button. Visit us at Best Practice and Modern Talent Magazine.