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The Jungle Guide – Transformational Leaders

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 3, 2012 in Executive Coaching

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In the jungle, there aren’t many signs to direct you away from danger.  Beautiful plants can be poisonous, lethal fungi can sneak in and kill an entire species of trees in a short period of time, and if you lose your bearings without a compass, you only have your instincts to help you find your way out… but the right guide can help tremendously.

At lunch this week, I was discussing a particularly difficult leadership situation with a Director at a publicly traded company and we got on the topic of transformational leadership.  Anyone can take on the traits of a transformational leader and be effective in the right situations where that type of leadership is particularly successful.

According to leadership researcher Bernard Bass, Transformational Leadership occurs when a leader transforms, or changes, his or her followers in three important ways that together result in followers trusting the leader, performing behaviors that contribute to the achievement of organizational goals, and being motivated to perform at high levels:

  • Transformational leaders increase subordinates’ awareness of the importance of their tasks and the importance of performing them well.
  • Transformational leaders make subordinates aware of their needs for personal growth, development, and accomplishment.
  • Transformational leaders motivate their subordinates to work for the good of the organization rather than exclusively for their own personal gain or benefit. (1)

Let’s suppose you are a leader in an organization that, like many, has gone through extensive change due to external economic influences.  Consider that the people leading the organization are doing as much as they can to attempt to adequately predict the next quarters’ results and have worked with you to ensure you understand your responsibilities within the overall execution of the strategic plan.  You, as the leader of your group, need to steer your team to achieve the pre-established benchmarks despite the undercurrent of uncertainty.

It’s not easy.  (If it was easy, everyone would do it!)   

Realize that you are not alone and many companies and managers are in the same situation.  Leaving your job because of these circumstances may not solve the issue at hand.  Instead, think about what you can do personally to create stability within an environment of uncertainly.  It’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on around you every day and lose sight of the big picture.  No matter what interpersonal drama is happening in your office, take a moment to take stock of yourself in relation to the traits of a transformational leader.   Consider what both your subordinate team and executive team need from you and the answers will become clearer.  Remember, you can’t change other people, only how you react to them.  If you need more leadership directives from the executive team, selectively seek out the proper person to mentor you.  Those with more experience than you have just that….more experience. There is a lot to be learned from others’ experience and style.  Recognizing both positive and negative traits in others helps you mold yourself to be a better leader overall.  Make yourself transformational no matter your personal set of circumstances and find yourself to be the jungle guide your team needs.

(1)    Jones, Gareth R.; George, Jennifer M. (2011-04-26). Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior (6th Edition) Pearson HE, Inc.

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The Flock – Your Employee’s First Day

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 28, 2010 in Job Search

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In a previous post, I noted some tips on how to be prepared for your first day by comparing it to building a nest. Building the “nest” is up to the employee to prepare for, but as the employer, you have preparation of your own to welcome the new member of the flock. The smoother the transition for your new employee, the faster they will be able to contribute their talents.

Your new employee is very excited about their new position and anxious to make a good impression. Here are some common sense things that will make that transition easier for them into their new company.

A phone call the week before they start is a great personal touch, and goes a long way toward making a new employee feel welcome. Let them know what to expect, where to go and what time to arrive the first day.

Have necessary items ready before they arrive:

·         Keys, security passes, parking passes, etc. should be ready for them or the paperwork associated with them available to be filled out.

·         Payroll forms and HR paperwork should be in a package and ready to be completed if not already done prior to start date.

Have the employee’s workspace ready for work:

·         Computer set up and running, email accounts activated.

·         Ensure the phone is in place, working and a manual is handy.

·         The chair is appropriate for the space and in good condition.

·         The work area (desk, carpet, etc.) is clean and in good working order.

·         A new, current copy of the company phone directory is available (or available on-line).

·         Have a scheduled agenda for them the first day or two. Include them in meetings on projects they will be involved with, even if only as an observer.

·         Introduce them to everyone they will be working with directly. Make sure they meet the person they should go to with facilities questions (i.e.: how to work the copier, the fax, the phone, etc.).

·         Have someone in the department (manager/peer) scheduled to take them to lunch on the first day. There is nothing more uncomfortable than going to a new company and not knowing where to go for lunch the first day, and not being invited to go with others. A little pre-planning can make the new employee feel welcome and a part of the group.

Keep the lines of communication open, and remember that they will have a lot of questions. Be approachable and available to them. Order their business cards and other personal stationary items as needed so they can get to work and be a productive, contributing member of your group as soon as possible.

Once the transition is complete, they will be able to fly uniformly with the rest of the flock and be eager to welcome new employees into the company family.

Discussed extensively in Ten Steps to Finding the Perfect Job as well as available in a recorded webinar presented by Carolyn Thompson at


Carolyn Thompson


Lindsay Sellner

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The Nest – Your First Day At A New Job

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 28, 2010 in Building Confidence, Career Path

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Winter is still going strong in the early months of the year, but maybe the new year has brought some good news and you are about to start a new job!

When birds create the foundations for a new stage in their lives, they take a lot of time to prepare. You may not need one or two weeks to gather the materials, but don’t underestimate! Nests keep the bird’s most precious possession safe: their eggs. For the time the bird lays and incubates its eggs and raises its young, the nest has to be solid and strong. The foundation for a new job has to be equally strong and you want to be careful to make the best first impression at the start!  

Leave home early in order to be on time. Factor in an extra 15 minutes in case you run into a traffic jam.

Take proper identification with you to fill out your new employee paperwork (if you have not already done so). This could include your passport, a driver’s license, social security card, green card or other authorization required to legally work in the US. Know what your exemptions are for tax purposes, and take emergency contact phone numbers for your file. Many companies offer direct salary deposit, and you can expedite that process by bringing a voided check or deposit slip with you to attach to the appropriate forms. If you need help filling out your forms, ask! Correctly filling out your new hire forms the first time will save you time and trouble later.

Dress professionally and appropriately for the company you are working for. (When in doubt, dress UP…not down.) Make sure your shoes are shined, your clothes are neat and pressed and that you don’t over-accessorize.

Smile, introduce yourself and treat everyone with respect. Saying please and thank you are the easiest ways to make people comfortable quickly.

Make sure you have some cash in case you need it. Trying to find a bank or a cash machine in a new neighborhood may not be the easiest thing on your first day.

You will be presented with a lot of new information the first few days. It will take time for it all to sink in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions…and be sure to take good notes. If you are invited to meetings to observe or participate, be careful not to jump in too quickly, but don’t be afraid to share comments and ideas if you are asked to.

Change is always difficult no matter how much you prepare. Realize that feelings of nervousness are expected and very common no matter your career level. You will likely miss your old, familiar surroundings. Rest assured, in a few days time, your new environment will become more comfortable and familiar to you. You will settle into your new routine, develop new friendships at your new company and still have the good relationships you developed at your former one.

This is your chance to start from scratch and build your solid nest from experience and preparation. First impressions are not only important but lasting. Make sure you do everything you can to set the tone you want to carry through this important step in your career. Make a comfortable nest for yourself by properly preparing for the first day, and weeks and that strong foundation will help you settle into your new job.



For more job search tips, please visit where you can find resources on interviewing, resume writing, and making a great first impression! Tips for your first day can also be found in the book Ten Steps to Finding the Perfect Job.

Carolyn Thompson


Lindsay Sellner


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