Success stories

Catalytic Leadership: Definition and Guide

by: Tanta Noramon
Catalytic Leadership: Definition and Guide

Leadership is an important part of society and industry. Nations need governments, companies need a board of directors, schools need principals, even your household needs someone to take on the responsibility of managing resources, problem solving and so on. However, there is no universal method for leadership, and there are many different styles that exist today. What works in one area may not work in another. Therefore, leadership styles are constantly changing, evolving and emerging as people try to find the perfect balance. Catalytic leadership is one particular style that stands out for its unique style.

What is Catalytic Leadership?

In science, a catalyst is described as a substance or agent that provokes or enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a faster rate than it normally would. It signals or initiates a change which can be very efficient. With this definition in mind, let’s look at what being a catalytic leader means in the world of business, community or society at large. A catalytic leader creates a spark of innovation, prompting action where nothing would usually happen. Their goal is to enable their team to progress faster and more efficiently.

What does a Catalytic Leader do?

Making change happen isn’t as easy as one might think, especially in organizations that still chug along with archaic policies and structures. People adapt to the ways things are, even if they’re inefficient, and it’s easy to become complacent. Employees tend to adopt the attitude of “it is what it is.” With so many advancements occurring in the modern world, archaic business practices make it difficult to keep up. This is when a catalytic leader might step up to the challenge. Here are some traits that are common amongst catalytic leaders.

Catalytic Leaders ask the right questions  

First of all, if you want to make a change, you need to ask the right questions. Why is change needed? How can something become more efficient? How can all of the components work in harmony? And the list goes on. A catalytic leadership style tackles the tough questions and searches for every possible answer. Throughout human history, curiosity has led to many great inventions and discoveries, and it’s what brings about innovation and open-mindedness. This mindset opens up conversations and leads to more efficient data gathering, research and strategy. It helps people solve problems or come up with new ideas, products or methods that are more resourceful and successful.

They emphasize on communication

A catalytic leader always has a finger on the pulse, making connections with others throughout the organization. In the scientific context, a catalyst usually exchanges information with other cells, chemical synapses or enzymes to induce a process. So does this type of leader, communicating with everyone around them in order to initiate change in the environment. As for any good leader, communication is a vital tool to ensure that teams are well informed, productive and feel like they belong and their roles are valued. Clear communication boosts productivity, which in turn has a host of benefits for both the organization and its employees. Good communication includes activities such as:

  •         the scheduling of frequent team meetings
  •         briefs with upper management
  •         a lot of groundwork with various departments
  •         employee, resource, data and task management
  •         regular check-ins for progress and feedback
  •         using collaboration tools and software

Creativity fuels innovation  

A graphic picture of people holding light bulbs

Being creative comes naturally to catalytic leaders. It’s one thing to ask the questions that need to be asked, but finding answers and coming up with new, fresh ideas requires creativity. Creative thinking births exciting new projects, innovative ideas and suggestions that all serve to improve processes and move the organization forward. This can be anything from improving internal processes to revamping an existing product or creating something new to attract a different target audience. There are also plenty of creative possibilities with new technology and trends that can boost different areas of a company. Creativity also helps a great deal with communication and team building. Meetings and briefs can become monotonous over time, but as a creative leader, you can come up with ideas that break the monotony and even bring some fun to the table.

Catalytic leaders put people first

Without people there would be no organization. Many organizations, especially corporations, have a bad rep for the way that they treat the people who work for them. Whether it’s uncomfortable work environments, low wages or a lack of employee benefits, some organizations don’t take care of their people. A catalytic leader is known for being high energy, engaging and motivating their teams and the people around them. They are empathetic and take time to listen as well as provide constructive feedback. All of this means they’re ready and willing to make people a priority. This boosts employee morale, encouraging them to take action and take pride in their work. The catalytic leader believes in collaboration and the importance of harmony within an organization.

How successful is the catalytic style of leadership?

Catalytic leadership is an innovative way to make changes that can help long established organizations evolve from their archaic practices or modes of operation. This leadership style can be very successful for promoting teamwork and encouraging all units to work collectively to complement each other. A catalytic leader takes charge of projects without bearing down on others, emphasizing their authority or acting superior. Working with a catalytic leader is like working with a mentor. This style reduces fear or disdain for authority, and teams feel more comfortable and confident interacting with these leaders. This trust and empathetic connection is not a typical trait in common leadership styles, and it makes the catalytic leader much more approachable.  Their leadership is conducive to a progressive and efficient team. Catalytic leaders may just be the answer to successful collaboration endeavors, uniting their workforce to become more efficient.

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