During our Round Table discussion last Saturday, on the Challenges and Trends in Leadership for 2014 and Beyond, we covered a lot of ground but, also skipped a lot of details as we found ourselves short of time. So, I am furnishing here some additional details that I thought would be beneficial to our audiences.
To be a leader and manage your business successfully, you need to have a solid understanding of things such as project management, organizational skills, managing employees and monitoring their performance, but even masters of these skills are not necessarily transformational leaders. These skills are simply the foundation on which a transformational leader is most effective.
Some people are just born with leaderships skills and the rest of us have to work at it. You have seen them before – the charismatic leaders who have a way of motivating the people around them. They instill a feeling that we are all accountable and that if one of us fails, we all fail.
So, let’s discuss the image that these Transformational Leaders project…
Transformational leaders are on a mission to effect positive change for both the organization and the people they work with, and their energy and passion help fuel cohesion among peers and team members, allowing them to larger than the sum of their parts. They challenge long-held assumptions and don’t accept answers like, “because this is the way we have always done it.”
Then, back to the question… What is Transformational Leadership?
Transformational problems are the critical issues a company or organization faces. Most times they relate to attitudes, behaviors and culture. They are rooted in the core and can be difficult to pinpoint without deep analysis.
Woodrow Wilson called for leaders who, by boldly interpreting the nation’s conscience, could lift a people out of their everyday selves. That people can be lifted into their better selves is the secret of transforming leadership. ~ James MacGregor Burns
James MacGregor Burns is credited with creating the concept of transformational leadership in 1978. He was a presidential biographer and a leadership expert who focused mainly on the improvement of management principles and procedures.
Burns said that a transformational leader needs to have a solid understanding of the necessary goals to be successful and be articulate in explaining those goals and the method to which they are to be achieved.
Change doesn’t really happen at a company; it happens with people, so in order to lead change you have to know how to lead people.
Transformational leaders are described as charismatic, enthusiastic, optimistic, passionate and sometimes visionary, giving them the ability to change long-held perceptions and beliefs. Those traits can spread like a wildfire; when they do, leaders and workers can engage more effectively allowing real transformation to take place.
Transformational Leadership Style
Transformational Leaders are facilitators who don’t make decisions or establish strategic plans but, instead, they facilitate a series of conversations among key stakeholders. Transformational leaders are driven by a strong set of values and a sense of mission. Often times the strategic leader will have a vision but can’t execute it because they can’t deal with the transformative issues. A transformational leader has a more generalized vision, a vision for the common good or what’s in the best interests of all the stakeholders.
The big difference, is that the transformational leader doesn’t always know where things are going to wind up, only that it will be better than where we are today. There is a time and place for each style of leadership, but when businesses are looking for a turnaround or to keep from getting left behind, many times a transformational leader is what they are looking for.
Let me now discuss about what you would need to facilitate a Transformation. Experts say that …
You Need 5 Things to Facilitate a Transformation
1. Intellectual Stimulation
By rocking the boat and asking questions, transformational leaders are always challenging the status quo and are not afraid of failure. They foster an environment where it is safe to have conversations, be creative and voice ideas, a place where all team members feel valued. They challenge cultural norms and work to inspire passion with their teams and peers. They are adept at, “turning me moments into we moments.”
Managers who have a command-and-control style of leadership can get a lot accomplished, but, as you all know, they achieve short-term. You can have great success but you can’t maintain long-term success that way. A better approach, is to guide your team, but let them solve the problem on their own.
2. Individualized Consideration
Don’t treat people how you want to be treated, treat them the way they want to be treated. People are different and what motivates and excites you is different from your peers and coworkers. As a Leader, you have to learn to adapt your style to accommodate the skills and people on your team.
3. Inspirational Motivation
Know where you want to go and create a vision or strategy to get there and then articulate, with optimism and passion, your vision to show them how all this matters in the big picture. It’s really the meaning behind why you are doing the job you are doing that’s so important to communicate to people.
Here is a story, you probably heard it before or a variation of it:
Two guys are digging a ditch. If you go ask each of them on what they are doing… one says, “I am digging a ditch, what’s it look like I am doing?” The other guy says, “I am building a hospital.”
The point is… It’s getting into the minds of the people so that they understand that whatever task they are doing, they are not doing that task, they are a part of something larger… “They are not digging a ditch or laying the cables etc; they are transforming the way healthcare is delivered in their neighborhood.”
4. Idealized Influence
Divorced from ethics, leadership is reduced to management and politics to mere technique, writes Burns.
Transformational leadership requires decision-making that works towards the greater good. You need to be a mentor of sorts and lead by example. Values-based leadership is necessary for driving sustainable change as this ensures that the results achieved are underpinned with a strong moral and ethical foundation, thus they can also stand up to any scrutiny or resistance to change.
5. Perseverance Through Conflict
We all know that any change, especially transformational change will create conflict. You are going to have people fight and/or ignore you. As a Leader, You have to master the role by figuring out how you are going to get all these people to work with you. Doing that will change the position you have into the power you need to change the company.
Good news is that you don’t have to be the boss to do so. Anyone can be a transformational leader, it’s all contextual and it’s all driven by scale.