Transactional Leadership | 4 Words to Disrupt Your Leadership Foundation | Part 1

by  Chad Balthrop  |  Workplace Issues

Have you ever thought about the words we use to describe relationships? Our entire paradigm for how we relate to one another is economic. We ‘spend’ time with family. We ‘invest’ training and resources in employees. When we feel neglected by our spouse we tell them they don’t ‘value’ us nearly enough. I’ll get that promotion when my boss recognizes how much I ‘contribute’ to the team.

Seth Godin has said that leadership, at it’s core, is marketing and marketing is leadership. As leaders we’re selling a vision, an idea, a method, a system. We market our influence and hope someone will ‘buy in’. This economic model for relationships affects our approach to leadership at every level. It’s transactional in nature. Quid pro quo. I’ll follow you if I get something in return. You’ll follow me when you realize my idea has more than merit, it has value that will benefit you personally. They say all politics is local. Well, all leadership is transactional and everyone’s looking for an ROI (return on investment) that far exceeds the risk they take when they believe in you.

What would happen if we changed the language of leadership? What if we stopped using the words of Wall Street to describe how a leader relates to others? Transactional Leadership relies heavily on 4 words that have more to do with economics than leadership. What if we replaced these 4 words with new words, better words? Words designed to inspire, empower and engage people.

  • Value vs. Respect
  • Invest vs. Serve
  • Buy-in vs. Trust
  • Contribute vs. Collaborate

These aren’t simply 4 contrasting ideas. They are a progressive pattern for how ‘Relational Leadership’ works. They are guiding principles that build one on top of the other.

Over the next several weeks we’re going to explore the differences between Transactional Leadership and Relational Leadership. We’ll discover how these four guiding principles leverage the power of influence, magnify the effectiveness of a team and create a vibrant culture where individual and corporate potential explodes with exponential growth.

It’s going to be a great series. As we get ready to dive in I have some questions for you.

  • What’s been your experience with ‘Transactional Leadership’? Was it positive or negative?
  • Do you think it’s possible to describe our relationships without using words that are economic in nature?

God Bless,

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By chad-balthrop
Husband and father of four, Chad Balthrop has served Owasso’s First Baptist Church since 2002. As Executive Pastor he oversees strategic development for staff and volunteer leaders as well as campus and finance.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Mike Henry  |  07 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Chad, I appreciate how you’ve thought through this entire series and I’m looking forward to it. It is a bit convicting to use such economic terms to speak of relationships, but you have turned each word and created new perspective. Thanks!

Chad Balthrop  |  09 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Hey Mike,

Thanks for putting together a great community of people who are genuinely interested in Character-based Leadership. I think Character-based leadership deserves a language all it’s own. Hopefully together we can change our words and in the process change the way people think and relate.

God Bless,

Genevieve Desautels  |  07 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Thank you Chad for this article. I found it very inspiring… Ghandi said: “Be the change that you want to see”… so I will share those “new words” on my blog (in French, my mother tongue) in the next few days

You are more than welcome to visit and maybe use Internet translations applications:-))
Have a nice day

Chad Balthrop  |  09 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Hey Genevieve,

Thanks for the reply. I look forward to exploring your blog. I like the Ghandi quote and agree. I’ve always believed that the words we know determine the thoughts we think. If we can reshape the words we know, we can reshape the thoughts we think. In the process we become the change we want to see.

Being bi-lingual I’ll bet you can see clearly the subtle and sometime significant differences between the denotation and connotations of words as they make the shift in meaning from French to English and back again. It’s like words are our programming language. I look forward to exploring these ideas with this community more.

God Bless,

Poul Andreassen  |  07 Feb 2011  |  Reply

The article you have presented has riddled out intricate structure of leadership into a simple structure. I hope other also understand the effectiveness of this article as well!

Chad Balthrop  |  09 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Hey Poul,

Thanks for the reply. I hope we can latch onto this idea and discover it’s implications together!

Mimi Meredith  |  08 Feb 2011  |  Reply

I think you’re onto something here! I hadn’t thought of the language connection, but I think reframing the basis for our relationships with one another is critical to improving leadership. I love the four words you’ve offered and will subscribe so I don’t miss what’s next.

Chad Balthrop  |  09 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Hey Mimi,

Thanks for the comments and for the tweet! Character-based Leadership is a different way thinking about and approaching people. It begins with how we view ourselves and finds it’s fullest expression in how we interact with others. I’m not sure we’ll be able to accurately define Character-based Leadership until we redefine some of the words we use when we talk about leadership.

As we explore these ideas are there other words that need to be reshaped, reconsidered or redefined?

God Bless,

Mimi Meredith  |  09 Feb 2011  | 

That’s exactly what I share through my workshops: Leadership Inside Out. Great leadership begins with a healthy sense of respect and love for ourselves (I used to say value…but I’m trying to adopt a new idea!) that creates the fundamental platform from which we’re able to respect others. And that’s just the beginning! I could go on all day…but that wouldn’t be very respectful : )!

David Willis  |  08 Feb 2011  |  Reply

It is the simple things in life that are the most profound. I have never thought of the language of leadership being based on economic vocabulary, but it makes great sense. I am very interested in what you have to say about relational leadership. I look forward to reading this series.

Chad Balthrop  |  09 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Hey David,

I appreciate your response. I’m also interested in you reaction…your thoughts. As this series unfolds let us know what you think and whether or not there are other words or ways to approach this idea of Relational or Character-based Leadership.

Thanks for reading!

God Bless,

Odoley Oddoye  |  09 Feb 2011  |  Reply

I love your fresh perspective on something that is so easy to overlook. I’m eager to see what the rest of the series has in store for us, I’m sure it’s just as insightful.

Chad Balthrop  |  09 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Hey Odoley,

I appreciate the opportunity to share here at LeadChangeGroup.com. I’m excited by what this community stands for and inspired by the other posts I’m reading. It’s great to get to get discuss these ideas with other passionate, committed and capable people.

Thanks for being part of the conversation.

God Bless,

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