3 Key Elements of Becoming a Transformational Leader

Leadership is influencing people, in a certain direction, for a certain purpose. When we lead (or influence others), we have a responsibility to practice what we preach. To be a doer, not just a sayer. In order to fulfill this responsibility, we must commit to personal growth. Personal growth is a trait of a high impact leader. High impact leaders are those who’ve found a way to become someone else, to become something else. The process by which this they do so is called transformation. Another name for a high impact leader is a transformational leader.

What is Transformational Leadership?

According to Professor Bernard M. Bass of State University of New York at Binghamton, “transformational leadership occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees, when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group.”

Why Does Transformational Leadership Matter?

Transformational leadership matters because it is a leadership style that lays a foundation for the growth of people and organizations. Transformation is an inside-out process. It starts with an individual (“me”) before branching out to others (“we”). In order to spark a transformation in people, you must first be transformed.

How Do We Put Transformational Leadership Into Practice?

Transformational Leadership is a fancy, sophisticated phrase, but what are some practical ways to make it work for your benefit? Below we’ll discuss 3 key elements that will help you become a transformational leader.

1. Stop Telling. Start Asking

Former MIT professor Edgar Schein coined the term “humble inquiry,” which is the gentle art of asking and influencing to get things done. People generally don’t respond favorably to command-and-control style communication that dominates or undermines their opinions. Rather, when you communicate with humble inquiry, you connect better with people. John C. Maxwell states it best, “people don’t care what you know unless they know that you care.”

2. Eliminate Binary Thinking

We don’t live in a black and white world. We live in a world full of gray area experiences. Because of this, we must be more thoughtful in our decision making process. There’s always a third option if we allow ourselves to be open it. Choose to be an AND Person not an OR Person. Something doesn’t have to lose in order for something else to win. It’s very easy to fall into binary thinking, so be on guard for telling symptoms like closed mindedness, ineffective experience, and tribalism. Closed mindedness boils down to pride and stubbornness. Ineffective experience means having the same experience year after year for twenty years instead of twenty years of improvement based experience. Tribalism (unyielding loyalty to a group) ensues as a result of groupthink: conformity that leads to irrational or dysfunctional decision making. When we eliminate binary thinking, the door opens up to endless possibilities like innovation and growth.

3. Stop Starting. Start Finishing

It’s great to be starter. Starters are great motivators. But motivation alone won’t ensure success. We must have the discipline to become great finishers. From athletes to performers, the absolute creme of the crop are those who finish strong. When you finish well in addition to starting strong, you deliver more value to your customers. Uninterrupted focus yields a higher output per unit of time. Remember, if everything is important, then nothing is important.

You are a transformational leader. And the best time to transform is…NOW! Don’t conform. Transform. So, what do you need to act on? What do you need to change? What do you need to teach or tell someone else? Oorah!

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