Be a transformer.
The dictionary says that to transform is to make a marked change in the form, nature, or appearance of something. It is a word readily brought to mind when we think of leadership. A transformational leader will see the opportunity, the need for change, they will have a positive vision for the future and inspire others to make it happen.
A model for transformational leadership came out of research work by James McGregor Burns, and Bernard M. Bass. They identified specific qualities and behaviours that a transformational leader will demonstrate. They are a model for integrity and fairness, they set high expectations, they encourage and recognise the efforts of others.
To make a difference, to transform a thing to something better, is core to being a leader. It is what our movie heroes and heroines do, the sports coaches we admire, the teachers who inspire, the people in history who stood bravely for what is right. Their stories are at their heart about an idea and vision, the overcoming of obstacles and hard-won successes.
The good news is that transformational leadership is within reach for us all. Whether it is a project at work or the three-year strategy for your organisation, the elements are the same:
- Build trust with the people around you. Behave consistently, let people get to know you and get to know them.
- Think about the way you would like things to be, make sure it is realistic and form the picture.
- Paint the picture for people, let them see their role in making it happen, motivate them to help you achieve it.
- Manage the delivery. Recognise barriers to progress and adjust when you need to work around them. Celebrate the achievements, big and small.
These things do not happen overnight. They are considered, tested, honed, discussed with others and always front of mind for a transformational leader. They require us to be curious and open-minded, to see the strengths in the people and the opportunities in the situation and to be forward looking.
As you reflect on your role today or look ahead to your next move, think like a transformer, act like a transformer. Be a transformer.