Robert “Bob” Gale was the first sales manager ever worked with at Baxter Healthcare’s Renal Division. Although Bob never had a political agenda, when it came to managing the Hemodialysis Sales Team, he demonstrated many traits of a transforming leader. According to Yukl, “These leaders seek to raise the consciousness of followers by appealing to ideals and moral values.” (p. 347). The first advice this manager bestowed upon the team was that he would support any decision or action team members made as long as said decision or action satisfied three criteria.
Those criteria were team sense, business sense, and common sense. The transforming leadership style is a sub-style of ethical leadership, which has many values emphasized. Bob Gale’s willingness to support his team’s efforts despite the ramifications exhibits an altruistic character. Yukl describes an ethical leader who is altruistic as one who, “Enjoys helping others, is willing to take risks or make sacrifices to protect or benefit others, puts the needs of others ahead of own needs.” (p. 348). The other value regularly demonstrated by Bob was integrity. Yukl’s characterization of a leader with integrity is one who, “Communicates in an open and honest way, keeps promises and commitments, acts in ways that are consistent with espoused values, admits and accepts responsibility for mistakes, does not attempt to manipulate or deceive people.” (p. 348). My Leadership Style
Because I do not have direct reports, the mentor meetings of the last two weeks centered on personal traits that need further development for a leadership role. Other topics included development of a personal leadership philosophy and more pertinent to current roles, the prevailing style in which I manage my accounts. The Complexity Theory of Leadership, which according to Yukl, “involves interacting units that are dynamic (changing) and adaptive, and the complex pattern of behaviors and structures that emerge are usually unique and difficult to predict from a description of the involved units.” (p. 296). The prevailing style or trait that resonated throughout our mentor meetings was adaptive.
During the last eight years, our industry suffered with government regulatory changes, the failure of more banks since the Great Depression, and a downturn in the real estate market that left our surviving customers with little to no capital for capital expenditures. My job became a problem solver for our customers. According to Yukl, “Adaptive leadership is an emergent process that occurs when people with different knowledge, beliefs, and preferences interact in an attempt to solve problems and resolve conflicts. The result of this process is the production of creative ideas and new conceptions that can facilitate the resolution of conflict and an adaptive response to a threat or opportunity.” (p. 296).
Because of the external factors that affected the banking industry caused banks to change from profit mode to survival mode, I in turn, had to change the way in which I managed my customers. Instead of trying to sell on features, benefits, and value, I became a problem solver. Banks needed products and services that allowed these institutions to decrease operational costs and at the same time, maintain quality of service and product offerings to their customers. Because our organization recognized these needs, we could adapt our approach and turn the interactions Yukl referenced into opportunities to assist banks resolve their conflicts caused by the recession. Areas for Development
The values that Bob Gale demonstrated are and always will be the benchmark I measure my actions, interactions, and best practices against. My mentor and I agree that I possess the traits to be an adaptive leader in the future. Kevin Sheridan, my mentor and the president of the company I work for, identified that I am detail-oriented and pragmatic. Kevin believes that these are my strong suits and will play an important role as I develop other leadership traits. However, according to Alessandro’s DISC assessment my, “primary goal is to win with flair” (p. 14) and validation seeking (although not a dominant trait) is a behavior that Kevin has identified in me. Validation seeking can come in many forms. According to my mentor, validation can be as innocuous as making sure a sales strategy or product pricing meets with the approval of one’s supervisor, to blatant attention seeking (e.g., winning with flair). In terms of my development, Kevin discouraged the winning with flair and warned that validation downward on the vertical is very dangerous with subordinates.
During my 15 year tenure in sales, I have experienced firsthand, a leader who possessed a style and traits that I not only admire but also continue to aspire to and suffered under managers who demonstrated criminal behavior. Today find a mentor that recognizes leadership qualities and other personality traits that he feels will make me a successful manager someday. Because of Bob Gale setting the bar as high as he did and by providing me a leadership template that encompassed so many traits I admire, his tutelage also made obvious to me what traits to avoid and control within myself. My mentor, no doubt will continue to help cultivate new leadership traits and help provide additional polish to the traits that he already recognizes in me. Our goal moving forward will be to develop a plan that will promote the development of a leadership philosophy focused on continuity across all levels of the organization and how to deal with all interactions consistently.