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How Being a Transformational Leader Empowers & Innovates Your Team

“I think when organizations and leaders encourage innovation and support the creativity of their teams, they gain a huge advantage. This allows employees to learn and grow, while producing amazing outcomes for the organization. There is so much talent within an organization and its people. When you empower team members to be innovative and make decisions, it really brings out their fullest potential.”

Meet Alison Esser, our newest member of the Reverie Team. Alison Esser is a Success Consultant with Reverie. Ali brings over ten years of experience partnering with business owners and senior leaders as an advisor, supporter, and strategic project manager. With a focus on building healthy, thriving organizations, she integrates leader insights with operational strategy. A former business owner herself, she personally connects with the entrepreneurial journey and loves collaborating with leaders. Ali holds a graduate certification in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, with a concentration in talent management & succession planning, organizational behavior, and consulting.

Q. Being a strong and effective leader is an important trait to have as a Success Consultant with Reverie. How would you define your leadership style?

A. I identify most with the Transformational leadership style. As a transformational leader, I focus on motivating and inspiring individuals to reach their full potential and to achieve collective goals. The central characteristics of this leadership style are described as the 4 “I”s:

  • Idealized influence describes leaders who serve as role models for their team members, and can be trusted and respected by them to make good decisions for the organization.

  • Inspirational motivation describes leaders who commit to the vision of the organization and are able to translate that well to the rest of the team.

  • Intellectual stimulation describes leaders who encourage innovation and creativity and continually challenge their team intellectually to make them better.

  • Individual consideration describes leaders who act as coaches and advisors to their team and encourage them to reach both individual and organizational goals.

Of the 4 “I”s, I lean most into intellectual stimulation. I think when organizations and leaders encourage innovation and support the creativity of their teams, they gain a huge advantage.This allows employees to learn and grow, while producing amazing outcomes for the organization. There is so much talent within an organization and its people. When you empower team members to innovate and make decisions, it really brings out their fullest potential. Employees who are free to contribute ideas and solve problems can help organizations stay on the “cutting edge” by building new products, creating new income streams, and producing great work that can really propel the company forward.

Q. Wow, that sounds like a great value for any team!

A: Yes, I love that this leadership style truly facilitates something called intrapreneurship, which is a win-win for leaders and employees. Intrapreneurship focuses on giving people autonomy to control their work, their goals, and their methods, which, in turn, helps increase employee engagement and productivity. It promotes creativity and growth by giving team members the ability to experiment with new ideas and make mistakes, all while working towards the same shared goal.

Q. Got it, that sounds great! Going a little further into it, how does your transformational leadership style benefit your clients as a Success Consultant with Reverie?

A. As a transformational leader, I really focus on defining and communicating the leader’s vision to both unify and motivate the entire team to contribute to organizational goals. As a Success Consultant, my objective is to ensure that all my clients understand the “why” behind the targets they set. I will work with leaders to really clarify the vision of the organization, then help them optimize the unique contributions of each team member by strategically sharing information and authority. Communicating the vision effectively allows employees at every level to get excited about the goals and recognize their part in the organization’s success.

And what’s even better, this approach will decentralize responsibility away from the leader, relieving the pressure on them to make every decision. I like to build a culture where team members, at every organizational level, are encouraged to analyze problems, utilize their own strengths and judgment, and take accountability. People do their best work when they feel a sense of personal power, ownership, and recognition. In turn, they take risks, develop ideas, enhance abilities, and really focus on the group goals and shared values. This unifies the entire team and enables employees to act, in essence, as co-entrepreneurs.

Q. Prior to joining Reverie, you owned your own business, were a trusted partner to C-Suite executives while serving in an Executive Assistant role, a former Board Member for the Chicago chapter of NAPO (National Association for Productivity and Organizing Professionals) and a recruiting consultant. How has your leadership style changed as a result of the various professional roles you’ve had?

A. In each of my previous roles, I worked closely with entrepreneurs and business leaders and encountered a spectrum of leadership styles. I learned a lot from observing each leader I worked with, and also gained valuable insight into how a leader’s approach profoundly affects every element of the business, including relationship building, decision making, and ultimately, organizational outcomes. I saw firsthand the challenges as well as the magic that happens when different types of leaders join forces to accomplish a common goal. When an organization is able to harness the individual strengths of its leaders, and then fill in the gaps with the strengths of their team members, the results can be truly incredible. One of my biggest takeaways is that the strongest leaders realize they can't be all things to all people. To be most successful, they need to let go of some control and allow their team’s skills and abilities to shine.

Q. What would you say are the most important traits of a trusted and effective leader?

A. I love the four “I”s of transformational leadership because I think they capture these traits perfectly: an effective leader serves as a role model who champions both the organizational vision and the growth of the individuals they lead. Strong leaders are both highly self-aware and honed into the strengths of their team members, so they can focus on doing their own best work instead of micromanaging others. As a result, their team is more productive, engaged, and motivated to succeed. I recognize how hard it is to let go as an entrepreneur. It’s your business! However, I know that the ‘secret sauce’ in allowing a business to thrive and grow is to delegate intelligently and build others up along the way.

Empathy is another essential trait of effective leaders, and is key to building trust with those they lead. Sensitivity to others’ experiences and point of view, and genuine care for their team’s well-being fosters a healthy environment for growth.

Q. At Reverie, our entire team takes leadership assessments upon joining the organization. How has taking these assessments helped you become a stronger leader?

A. Taking the assessments helped give clarity and focus to my own strengths, and helped me understand how I can use them to serve others. According to the How To Fascinate® assessment, which identifies your top two advantages that influence how the world sees you, my top two advantages are Prestige (language of excellence) and Innovation (language of creativity). The assessment results gave me the confidence to lean into these advantages when working with clients. As a consultant, I can encourage my clients to think outside the box, tapping into their creativity to innovate and push ideas further. Understanding my advantages also inspires me to help my clients set higher standards and strategic goals to elevate their business to the next level.

My additional assessment results identified connectedness, individualization, and empathy as my primary strengths, and also described me as a maximizer and a learner. As a leader, these strengths enable me to stay focused on my clients’ individual skills, vision, and goals, to understand how others are feeling, and to encourage innovation and employee development.

Q. You have a strong background in managing projects, leading change, and creating process improvements within the organizations at which you have previously worked. What makes you successful in driving change?

A. In order to be successful at driving change, I first need to develop a deep understanding of the organizational vision. This includes painting a vivid picture of the client’s ideal state, and also bringing to light any underlying resistance or fear. From there, I can facilitate goal-setting and project plans that truly align with the company’s core values.

Knowing the ‘why’ behind the change provides a benchmark to realign with and come back to when issues arise or obstacles come up during the process. Leaders are sometimes too close to the day-to-day of the business to zoom out and reset; taking the time to re-examine and articulate their values with a fresh perspective builds a foundation for long-term success, whatever that means to them. When change gets hard or momentum slows, I have an innate ability to bring people back to the defined guideposts, ensuring we are making progress in the targeted areas and continuously moving in the right direction.

Q. How do you know if the change you are making is successful?

A. Before the change process begins, it’s important to set success metrics that tie back to the vision and goals. Deciding how, specifically, we will measure success at each step along the way determines whether or not the process is on track and tells us if and when we need to course-correct.

Q. What drew you to a career with Reverie?

A. I knew very quickly that Reverie’s founders, Jaid Mackin and Lindsay Miller, aligned with my values and embodied the qualities that are most important to me in leadership. They are both forward-thinking, strong communicators who are highly attuned to the needs of their clients and team. They are extremely clear on their vision for success; I instantly connected with Reverie’s mission and wanted to be a part of it! I was also drawn to the variety of businesses Reverie works with, and the great relationships Reverie has with clients. Combined with my background in entrepreneurship and working with leaders, it was a natural fit.

Q. What are you most excited about accomplishing as a Reverie Success Consultant?

A. Reverie does it all! I love that I will gain new experiences across a number of different industries and solve interesting problems. However, I am most excited to be impactful with our clients and to celebrate the results they are seeing in working with us. Our clients are going through some remarkable transformations. I love to see entrepreneurs feel re-invigorated, enjoy the results they’re been working towards and “find reverie” again. It's so rewarding knowing that we are truly helping people.

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