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Transformational Leadership: Igniting Change and Inspiring Success
The language used to describe leadership approaches is important because clarity drives understanding and commitment while eliminating confusion. For example, a leader’s declaration of a change initiative needs to be explicit about being evolutionary, transitional, or transformational.
By getting the targeted expectations right, leaders can then appropriately harness the rational and emotional energy needed to achieve the outcomes they are seeking.
While evolutionary change means an accumulation of smaller changes over an unspecified longer-term timeframe, transitional change is more specific with respect to a process or product initiative over a defined period.
These words are often used incorrectly due to their “softer emotional impact” compared with declaring what may be the real need for “transformational change,” which implies a more significant, consequential and fast-moving experience.
As an organizational change partner to CEOs and their Executive teams, one challenge I often see is “Matching the Right Leader to the Challenge” at hand. What’s required for transformational changes is a unique “temperament” and skill set relative to making bold moves, taking risks, and engendering followship relative to those required for evolutionary or transitional changes.
This is one reason why many change efforts fail. Leaders who cannot handle the rigor of transformational change will not be able to secure the commitment of their organization to achieve what is necessary.
Let’s explore the definition and requirements of transformational leadership as well as why it is a crucial set of skills to master in today’s dynamic and competitive business environment.
Defining Transformational Leadership
Transformational leadership emphasizes inspiring followers to achieve their full potential and exceed their previous expectations in service of a new organizational outcome that has significant importance or magnitude.
This type of change dynamic goes beyond the traditional expectations for strong functional performance in a role and instead seeks to secure passionate alignment for a new ADVENTURE where pioneering is potentially necessary, so it includes creating a shared vision and a sense of collective purpose.
Transformational leaders demonstrate composure while fearlessly addressing VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) environments. They must be able to act with speed and empathy while offering clear communication messages continuously that provide a framework for “where we were, where are we now and where are we going next” in the change process.
In role modeling these transformational leadership behaviors, trust will build in the change initiative and will fuel the collaboration, drive as well as a commitment to deliver the targeted outcomes.
Requirements for Transformational Leadership
Creating an Inspiring Vision
Transformational leaders create a clear and compelling vision for the future. This “next new world” will look, feel, and sound different than the world of today. Transformational leadership requires the ability to paint vivid pictures of success while placing their teams “in the picture” to drive home both the experience of the journey as well as the destination.
Transformational leaders possess an ability to engage others rationally and emotionally with their passion for the challenge at hand, having the veritas to say what needs to be said and the gravitas to empathetically connect to those directly in the crosshairs of the change experience.
While “having charisma” means that we are attracted to you, the leader, “being charismatic,” in contrast, implies both that we are attracted to you and you, the leader, demonstrate your attraction to leading us as well. Developing this critical 2-way dynamic is what creates the trusting relationship, shared commitment and engagement required to deliver the people who will ultimately deliver the transformational change.
Realizing Talent Potential by “Going Beyond” with Expectations
Transformational leadership seeks to achieve a result with significance and magnitude that is seismically different from the current state. This outcome requires talent to go beyond where they have historically been with performance expectations and aspire to reach their full potential in terms of skill application.
Transformational leaders will set high expectations that can initially appear out of reach, yet with training, coaching and encouragement, your talent bench will stretch into new spaces they did not believe were possible! It’s important to remember that transformational changes, once achieved, can only be sustained by a skilled talent bench that can consistently deliver these new levels of performance and productivity over time.
The Impact of Transformational Leadership
Empowerment that Inspires Engagement
Transformational leaders understand that creativity and innovation are unleashed when employees are empowered to take risks in service of the growth they seek. Creating a learning environment where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for course corrections vs. being judged negatively inspires engagement across your employee base. This, in turn, will encourage them to go above and beyond in their roles compared with holding back out of fear and just doing what is minimally required.
Building a Change-Ready Organizational Culture
When an organization experiences transformational leadership during a phase in its growth lifecycle, it can provide an entry point for truly building a Change-Ready culture that can have lasting benefits.
Many organizations plod along with flat or low levels of incremental growth only to find themselves one day disrupted by a competitor without the necessary skills to respond quickly enough to the challenge.
In contrast, organizations that have successfully navigated transformational changes, either proactively or responsively, have potentially fortified the skills to be agile in the face of emerging threats or challenges.
These cultures will not only be able to address the challenge of disruption, they are also more equipped to seek, see, and seize being a disruptor who creates a competitive advantage for their organization.
Instilling Positivity and Optimism for the Future
Transformational leadership creates an atmosphere of positivity and optimism in the face of what can appear to be daunting challenges. Positive words, along with an optimistic outlook alone, however, will not be enough.
Transformational change requires cultural skill building at the organizational level. When new skills are applied with competence and confidence across the enterprise, the change process is accelerated. This, in turn, further turbocharges the optimism of your talent bench regarding their capabilities and the organization’s future!
Transformational leadership deploys a powerful set of skills that can drive organizational success in a rapidly changing world. Leaders who have the temperament and capability to skillfully use this approach can inspire their teams to higher levels of performance and productivity, which can exceed not only their expectations but will also transcend their imaginations as they reach their full potential!
How to Leverage These Insights in Your Organization
If your organization is considering the need for transformational changes in your business model, your executive leadership team, your culture, or your talent bench, we can be your change partner.
Leadership training and skill-based learning have become a critical priority for CEOs given the dynamic challenges organizations are struggling with, including uncertain market conditions, employee turnover, and, most importantly, a lack of engagement.
We can offer you an opportunity to BREAKTHROUGH these struggles with a solution that is customized for your organization and focused on building Change-Ready leaders who can facilitate progress and align action across your organization—for both your business growth and your talent growth.
Introducing The Leadership Rigor Virtual Academy, an enterprise-level program that can give you the competitive advantage you need to secure cultural connectively, talent engagement, and build contemporary skills for today’s hybrid work environment.
In addition to great content that utilizes whiteboard animation and cutting-edge micro-learning techniques, our easy-to-use learning platform and high-touch program design + delivery are achieving levels of engagement that are off the charts!
Invite your organization to engage in a customized leadership learning journey where the future of work, an amazing employee experience and collaborative peer-to-peer learning all converge to accelerate both your Business and Talent Growth!
Start your journey today at The Leadership Rigor Virtual Academy or email email@example.com