Inspirational Leadership and Affiliate Program Management

Yesterday’s “A Case for Inspirational Leadership” blog post by Roshan Thomas did my heart good. Even though “inspirational leadership” normally has a slighly different undertone, posts like his motivate us all to become better leaders, thereby creating a healthier and happier working environments for those that we are called to lead.

Some may believe that any leadership style that inspires is “inspirational leadership”, and in some way it is true. Scholars and practitioners of leadership, normally equate the inspirational leadership to something more specific – something that has been christened charismatic or visionary leadership (see “Management and Organisational Behaviour” by Laurie J. Mullins, p. 382). It is characterized by high emotional involvement on the part of the leader and the follower, where the charismatic leader inspires and motivates his/her followers “to do more than they would normally do, despite obstacles and personal sacrifice” (see “The Leadership Experiences” by Richard L. Daft, p. 359). Inspirational leadership is almost entirely about “striking the right chords with people at the right time”. This “involves elements as elusive as ‘peronal chemistry’ but, at a more practical and fundamental level, it is about relating to people in ways which give them confidence, belief and faith in themselves, as much as in the leader” (see “Mastering Leadership” by Michael Williams, pp 58-59).

The type of leadership described by Roshan in his above quoted post is more of a synergy between the inpirational and interactive leadership. The latter is a style of leadership where more personal relationships are developped between the leader and the followers, and such processes as the sharing of information, empowerment, and ehnancing others’ feelings of self-worth are taking place.

I like the 7 points Roshan lists as the things to do to inspire your team: (i) create sense of pride, (ii) spread positivity and ethusiasm, (iii) show respect, (iv) provide for a two-way communication, (v) show your care and thank people sincerely, (vi) emplower and equip people to achieve the vision, and finally (vii) “walk the talk”. All of these, without exception, can be beneficially applied in the context of [affiliate manager] – [affiliate] relationships as well. I would only like to add three more “i”s (learned from the above-quoted volume by Richard Daft about half a year ago) that I believe to be especially important in the context of affiliate program management:

  • Idealized influence or when the followers identify with the leader, trust and respect him/her for maintaining high standards (especially important in the ethical dimension – something that affiliate marketing suffers from more and more)
  • Individual consideration or treating each follower as an individual, and developping vertical relationships with your followers
  • Intellectual stimulation or challenging your followers to think in new ways

Much more can be written about the applicability of leadership to affiliate program management. I personally promise you many more blog posts on this topic in the course of 2009, and beyond. I hope you will find them of practical value.

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