Hint: You're probably wrong.
A new study of CPA firm personnel finds "a significant disconnect" between the way leaders view themselves and the way their subordinates see them.
According to Regent University's Jamie Early and John B. Davenport, leadership behaviors generally fall into these three categories:
- Transformational, which focuses on rallying followers around a shared vision and motivating them to elevate the organization's interests above their own,
- Transactional, which rewards or disciplines followers based on their performance, and
- Servant, which is based on a desire to serve and encourages "collaboration, trust, foresight, listening, and the ethical use of power."
Around two-thirds of CPAs at accounting firms describe their leadership style as either transformational or servant. Yet 62 percent of accountants describe their immediate supervisor's leadership style as transactional.
"This is noteworthy because a clear majority of respondents said they would be most responsive to a transformational leadership style," the authors say in the March 2010 NYSSCPA magazine.
"To be effective, leaders need to break away from a transactional mindset and adopt transformational and servant behaviors," they say. "This is particularly important for managers as they make the transition to partner" -- and from a transactional technique to transformational.
The authors emphasize that leadership "is not a single static style but rather a dynamic process." Effective leaders expertly employ a combination of transformational, transactional, and servant behaviors tailored to particular situations or people.
But the disconnect between supervisors and their staff is striking... Almost as striking as most CPAs' desire for "transformational" leadership.