Transformational leadership: Exceeding expectations

By Jacqueline Coke Lloyd

Friday, November 27, 2020 

Therese Turner Jones – General Manager IDB

Having expectations about your own performance and that of your organisation is crucial to transformational leadership. Meeting targets is commendable, but surpassing them is even more satisfying. In a sit-down interview for a doctor of transformational leadership, Therese Turner-Jones explains how she managed to do just that during her current tenure as general manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group (CCB) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

She delineates her own transformational leadership journey in the context of her transition to her current role, in which managed to exceed expectations by motivating her employees to perform better than under her predecessor within a relatively short time period.

Noting that she inherited her team members in a demoralised state, she stated that her approach encapsulated the two things she says are necessary for transformational leaders — vision and hard work — and, despite the tremendous success, she isn’t keen on resting on her laurels as she constantly pursues new ways of taking her entity to the next level.

An internationalist at heart, she emphasises the need to expose young minds to all that the world has to offer from an early age, which will make them more skilful in solving a lot of the world’s social, political, economic, and environmental problems. This she says brings her ultimate fulfilment as her vision is that the IDB will continue to strive to improve lives in the Caribbean by creating vibrant economies in which people are safe, productive, and happy. She believes in deepening client relations and sees the interactions in the countries as being the heart of the IDB’s work in advancing people development.

Turner-Jones supports the idea of doing what you love, which will minimise the mistakes people make that can affect others in the long run, as work that is poorly done reduces productivity when it has to be corrected by someone else. Seeing challenges as opportunities, she employs different and creative ways to overcome impediments when working with external agencies and is largely concerned with the achievement of the end goal, rather than the path taken to get there. In this regard, she promotes flexibility as a means of getting the best out of her employees.

The central theme of Turner-Jones’ philosophy is to always endeavour to solve problems differently. This is entirely agreeable, as one can argue that problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at which they were created. Moreover, given the nature of her profession, which includes serving millions of people across a wide geographic space and from varying socio-economic backgrounds, problems are many and require a total extension of effort beyond that which is merely necessary.

Despite the number of people to which her organisation caters (her office oversees the IDB’s operations in Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, The Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago), Turner-Jones prefers to analyze people on an individual, human level and does not just lump them into a numerical category for the sake of measuring a particular development indicator. She tends to invest heavily in the human capital of the organisation and routinely ensures that they stay personally and professionally developed.

I think this is an excellent approach to leadership and ought to be replicated as a best practice because this is healthy for labour relations. While she also values the impact of technology, her emphasis on humanity is evidenced in her hope that the proliferation of the former does not reduce the latter.

Turner-Jones likes to point out similarities in the people she serves as something that will inevitably draw us closer together rather than drive us apart, and utilises her influence and skills to get people to employ different approaches. This shows her level of innovation, which has the potential to transform mundane, bureaucratic processes between government agencies and development multilaterals into more exciting and efficient undertakings, which she distinctly notes as one of her wishes for the future of her profession.

Jacqueline Coke Lloyd is founder and managing director of Make Your Mark Consultants. She is a transformational leader, coach, organisation and people development specialist, and national productivity ambassador. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or jackiecokelloyd@gmail.com.

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