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Podcast: How to Become a Transformational Leader

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Podcast with Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt, Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics and
Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani, CEO at Fairrer Samani Group

More than ever, business leaders must adapt to rapid changes in the marketplace while continuing to inspire others to follow them. In this episode, Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt talks to entrepreneur and global strategic advisor, Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani about her years of business experience including research she’s conducted on transformational leadership training. Specifically, listen to learn about four critical areas of skill building for transformative leaders including IQ, EQ, AQ and UQ as well as other resources to develop transformational leadership skills. 

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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Today, my guest is Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani, who is a global speaker and executive leader in the world of emerging technology and integration. She’s also a transformational leader in both academia, business, and engineering.

As a serial entrepreneur and global strategic advisor, Dr. Samani is the CEO of Fairrer Samani Group, which is a think tank and a digital footprint producing the Global Tea Party virtual seminar and Ocular Podcast, and she’s also the founder of Fifth Wave STEaM Educational Initiative. Dr. Samani, welcome to the podcast and thank you for joining me.

Dr. Jeannice Samani: Thank you so much, Dr. Boyd Wyatt. It is a pleasure to be here.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Let’s get started. There are so many conversations happening today that address issues of leadership and what many are now calling transformational leadership. So can you start by just telling us a little bit more about yourself and why the topic of transformational leadership is so dear to your heart?

Dr. Jeannice Samani: Well, it is dear to my heart, number one, because as we evolve, as business evolves, as we evolve as human beings within society, we are evolving. We are transforming, we are adapting, we’re learning from one another. It’s an opportunity for change. It’s an opportunity for acceleration. It’s an opportunity for innovation. That is what excites me and brings me great joy to think about, how we can actually be transformative within our society.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Okay. Well, thank you. So when it comes to leadership, there’s all types of leadership. So could we start by maybe talking about some of the leadership types you have encountered in the workplace?

Dr. Jeannice Samani: Well, as a leader, I would like to add that it is very important, it’s one of the most difficult concepts within business itself, but we need to be aware of our positions in the world and in the organization.

[Podcast: Human Productivity and Performance — Keys to Success]

Whether you are starting an organization, or you work in industry, or you’re a veteran, you all have various traits as effective leaders, and it’s very critical to have that awareness and as it is a part of our integral being within society for success.

So the various types of leadership, it’s amazing how diverse they actually are, but they’re quite integral as well. So we can look at transactional leadership. There’s servant leadership. There is oligarchy leadership, and bureaucratic leadership, charismatic, as well, transformative, and laissez-faire leadership, in addition.

So it hones down to basically five various types of leadership styles, if you will, that are very popular. Within those is the key of transformative, as well as servant. But I like to focus on transformative, again, because it’s looking at how we evolve within society and within the world, in the acceleration, and the development, and innovation of business, as well as in the society itself.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Wow. I really liked that. So you’re saying specifically when it comes to business, transformational leadership helps one evolve through innovation and creativity. So that’s a great segue for our next question, because at American Public University, we have a large number of students in the school of business. So how do you use some of these basic leadership terms and theories to define this concept of leadership?

Dr. Jeannice Samani: Well, of course we start with the hallmark of defining exactly what transformational leadership is. I put a great deal of emphasis on transformational leadership as it pertains to transformative leadership. So let’s start by giving some background about transformational leadership.

According to Bass, which was a hallmark, is a theorist who had his concept of setting leaders apart from other leaders based upon their style and the way that they interact and build their companies.

Transformational leadership is one that actually encourages as well as motivates and brings that positive development amongst others. So as we think about what transformational leadership is, it concentrates on several areas. Four, to be precise.

One is individualistic, and looking at the individual and their concerns. The second is intelligent or intellectual stimulation. The third is inspiration and motivation. The fourth is idealization, and that’s where we really get a lot of the innovation from. That is looking at how we can actually be an influence within our organization. So each of these components are absolutely positive in relationship to the individual, as well as the organization itself.

So if we think about leadership style in a transformative way, I really put emphasis on transformative. It’s an adjective that is describing the ability and the cause of the importance to take that change, that last change, that influence that someone may have, or something may have on an organization, and how individuals—it comes down to people—how they actually function within the organization.

So the concept is an actual persona of a leader to actually create, and to engage, and to evolve an organization into the industrial phase or era, if you will. We’re currently in this digital information era, looking at the fourth industrial revolution.

As we think about, what is our future like, no one can predict the future, of course. But if we think about what is coming down the pike for innovation, how we can actually build business, what does that context look like, we’re thinking into the future.

I wrote a book about the fifth wave, thinking about the fifth wave of transformative leaders. So creating a workplace in which the dynamic between leader, and coworker, and stakeholders would actually be effective, efficient, inclusive, agile, and customer centered, as well as being transformative, authentic, and intentional in the actual way and the purpose in which individuals would interact.

It’s a concept of making that is to come in the years, I believe, and leaders are going to be more engaged with their coworkers, with their fellow leaders, within the organization.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Wow. I really think that the listeners could benefit from your book. So I wanted to talk about something that you mentioned, and you said, “It all boils down to people.”

So there’s always an ongoing discussion in terms of leaders, are leaders made or are leaders born? Is it a nature or is it a nurture issue? So from your perspective, in a perfect world, what type of training would be needed to make the public more aware of transformational leadership?

Dr. Jeannice Samani: I believe that leaders are created, they’re developed, it’s an actual muscle that is exercised. In the book, for instance, I focus on four areas. It’s transformational candor, and in that candor, there is a matrix, a two-by-two that actually describes four areas of the persona of a transformational, transformative candor.

So within that, we’re looking at the IQ. Which, quite often, we think about, what is your IQ based upon a score, a test score? Or the IQ of individuals because they went to certain universities, if you will. Or the IQ of individuals because they have certain jobs. It should not be solely based upon a score. That came out of an archaic theory that was started in the early 1900s, and it was to assist children with their development.

So if we’re thinking about leaders, we don’t want to use that same kind of measurement, if you will, of IQ. I view IQ as an opportunity to think about cognitive intelligence, to think about how individuals actually can communicate with other individuals, how they engage, how they’re connecting, and that is a true focus.

So moving into the other quadrant, I would focus on, and in the book we go through this exercise, by the way, focus on EQ. EQ is diving into your emotional intelligence, thinking about empathy. How you fit in someone else’s shoes? What would be your particular experience in someone else’s place? So emotional intelligence is very critical to having an understanding of how to relate to another individual, how to be inclusive in your workplace.

Then we move into what I call the UQ, which is the unknown. That is where curiosity continues to build that leader, whether it be additional education, or whether it’s one-on-ones whether the education is formal or informal, and those one-on-ones with individuals that you could actually interview, to get a contextual idea of more information about the development of a project or that individual themselves, to know how to relate and how to communicate with that person.

Again, it’s UQ because you don’t know what you don’t know, the old adage. But that gives you an opportunity to dive in and ask more questions, just by opening dialogue. Being uncomfortable in certain circumstances, but opening that dialogue to really get to understand where that individual’s thinking process is, or why they chose to do a certain task, if you will, a certain way.

There, you can really get a true understanding of that individual, as well as the procedure, or the policy, or the theory, or the thinking, if you will, behind a decision that is made.

Then we move into the last quadrant of the matrix, which is AQ, which is our adaptive ability, whereby the AQ is giving an opportunity for the skillset of that muscle that we’re talking about, and the skillset and experience that comes to the leader to actually adapt, and to change, and to form, and to create, a dynamic within the workplace that is inclusive.

That speaks to being effective. That, through operations and actual competencies, they’re able to build that skillset around the organization. That they can see the vision, they can move toward that mission, if you will, of the organization to be effective, productive, have high performance, et cetera, all of those outcomes that organizations would want and expect from their leadership.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Wow, this is phenomenal. I think it’s groundbreaking, if I can go that far to say that, because I know when I learned about leadership a long time ago, I didn’t know about IQ, EQ, UQ, and AQ.

So I’m so glad that you’re sharing this with our listeners, that it’s just more than leadership. It’s about intelligence, and emotions, and as you mentioned, the unknown, as well as just learning to be adaptive. So taking what you know now, what are some changes that should be made to curriculum, to make students more aware of the importance of leadership and transformational leadership?

Dr. Jeannice Samani: It’s so interesting that you would ask me that, of course, because we’re in an academic setting. But I’ve had the great opportunity, I’m very, very fortunate to have been given classes where I could actually utilize, and to put into place this type of thinking, if you will, and these kinds of exercises within the curriculum.

I believe, if we were able to implement within the classroom the idea, to engineers or business students, the idea that in order to be productive, in order to have a high level of performance, in order to start that company down the right road, if you will, or to build that maturity within an existing organization, you would have to review and assess all of these areas within your organization.

And, as well, assess the individuals of the organization. Because, of course, leadership drives the organization, so it’s very critical that all of the leadership are on the same path, if you will, on the same journey to success.

So if we were in the classroom, which I have been, and I have implemented some of these experiences within the curriculum, given various scenarios. Many of the students have their experiences, so they come to school or to the university with various skillsets, as well as various experiences. So putting some of their scenarios into the curriculum and having conversations around that is, I think, the first step.

A second step would be assessing what those outcomes are. And then, of course, there are a few steps in between, but building prototypes that would actually speak to the problems or the situations in which is being generated from the class.

The reason why I say generated from the class, as opposed to from the textbook or from some Google site, if you will, is because there would be a sense of ownership. There would be that EQ connection, that emotional connection, and the unknowns, which is UQ. By the way, that’s my own trademark phrase. The UQ is to come into context because they didn’t know what they didn’t know.

Through inclusion of various thought processes and different ways of thinking, they’re actually able to get a different perspective, have a different side of the box, if you will, to the problems that they may have interfaced.

So, again, building out those prototypes and then having that regurgitation or that reflection to say, “I could see how I could have done that differently,” or to build a policy or various principles within an organization that would actually accelerate or mature that organization.

Or another scenario would be to potentially craft procedures and systems, as well, around how to manufacture or how to innovate, if you will. So it could be utilized in the classroom very effectively in real-time, and get to real situations and real challenges within organizations.

Really, I love to see it happen. The students that I have had the opportunity of presenting this to have been thrilled, because they’re able to go back into the workplace, quite often, and make those kind of change management activities that needed to occur. And do it in such a way that it’s well-received, and that it just fits well into their vision and the mission of their organization, because that’s always the guiding thermometer, if you will, to success.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: So as we start to wrap up, I just want to make sure our listeners understand that there are many different types of leadership styles, but there’s something that’s really distinguishing about transformational leadership.

So can you take a moment just to help the listener understand the characteristics of transformational leadership and then what distinguishes transformational leadership from other leadership styles?

Dr. Jeannice Samani: Yes. Transformational leadership is, again, focused on individual concerns. It’s focused on the intelligence. That’s why I brought in the IQ intellectual side, the cognitive intelligence, if you will.

It’s focused on the motivational side of connecting with people, having those uncomfortable conversations sometimes, or getting to know individuals from the standpoint that you can actually support them to move into being more effective, or have a higher percentage of performance, or being more innovative.

Sometimes it just takes that support, and so that emotional or that inspirational motivation that would occur because of the connection. Human beings are communal people, so through this IQ, EQ, and UQ, you’re actually able to dive in to and get to know that person that much more.

So, again, that third inspirational, motivational component is supported by your knowledge that you’ve gained from going through that analysis.

The fourth component of the idolization, or the ideation as I like to call it, coming up with new ideas and being an influencer in certain areas is based upon your information, your motivation, your innovation to certain concepts that are actually created and developed through this process. So it’s individualism, which are those concerns, the intellectual, the inspirational, and then the looking at ideas, so the ideation.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: This discussion has been phenomenal. Thank you so much, Dr. Samani. But before we go, you mentioned that you are an accomplished author. So I really want the listeners to know how they can obtain more information on transformational leadership.

So what are some resources you’ve used, or maybe you can talk about some of the books that you’ve published in the past, to help individuals become more aware of transformational leadership?

Dr. Jeannice Samani: Well, “The Fifth Wave of a Transformative Leader,” which is the new publication that will actually be available for purchase in the next month, thank you for asking, is a compilation of various research that I’ve been conducting for the past 20 years, along with being asked to speak at various conferences.

And centering around innovation, emerging technologies, if you will, technology for good, looking at how organizations actually evolve and can accelerate themselves. So it is my work that has come to this pinnacle, if you will, and this opportunity to put it all into context. So that is the foundation of my particular book.

However, there are some very intriguing, very thoughtful, very detailed, and I believe very effective authors that I’ve read through graduate school myself. There’s some new documents, as well as books that are out, and one is “The Curious Leader,” having curiosity. It’s a new concept on looking at that UQ, not knowing what you don’t know. I mentioned it as learning new things, learning from individuals, but always be learning, always grow, exercising that muscle. So it’s The Curious Leadership, and it’s by Chapman, and it’s a new paradigm.

There’s also another book by Brene Brown, “Dare to Lead,” so I would recommend that. Jim Collins is always good. “Good to Great” is his book. He’s just a founded author and there are tools, actually, that he makes available on his website.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Jean Greaves, I found to be very helpful, as far as laying down a foundation of understanding how intelligence is not a weakness, especially in business, where we heard that you can’t come with your heart. But indeed, once you understand what emotional intelligence is, it is mind and heart connection. So I think that Jean Green lays down a good foundation in emotional intelligence.

Lastly, I would look at “The Innovation Dilemma.” There’s a series of books put out by the professor from Harvard, Clayton Christensen, who I’ve been reading forever, all through grad school, and I continue to pick up whatever he writes.

And, of course, looking at the Harvard Business Review and staying abreast of what is new and innovative, coming from many thought leaders that either write under the pin of Harvard Business Review or are actual faculty members there.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Oh, wow. I think we’re going to leave it at that because those resources are just, wow. Some of them, I’ve listened to on AudioCast, or either I’ve actually read the book, but some of them are also new and cutting-edge. So thank you for providing that for our listeners.

And thank you again for sharing your expertise and your perspective on the issue of transformational leadership. Thank you so much, Dr. Samani, for joining me today for this episode of the podcast.

Dr. Jeannice Samani: It has truly been my pleasure. Thank you so much for hosting me, and just remember to be transformative in your leadership. It’s a critical part of having a successful society, as well as a successful business.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Thank you so much. Also, thank you to our listeners for joining us once again. You can learn more about these topics and other topics by signing up for the newsletter. So until our next podcast, be well and be safe.

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