7 Thoughts on Transformational Leadership – Aiming to Create A Synergy of Energy

“Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing (transforming others).” Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader

Charles Handy, in his book, The Age of Paradox, states that lifecycle curves (of organizations started by baby-boomers) are free-falling everywhere, so that this moment in time is characterized by the transitioning of a very significant period in our history. He says that this difficult period is marked by fear, confusion, and faltering new steps as we attempt new life curves. (This is a good reason to consider the wisdom of a bailout for the big-3 automakers and the plethora of financial institutions in the US and around the world. New and transforming leadership is needed for this moment in history.)

Transformational leadership is a style where one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and integrity. James MacGregor Burns (1978) first introduced the concepts of transformational leadership in his treatment of political leadership, but this term is now used in organizational psychology as well. Transformational leaders offer a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order intrinsic needs.

Consider the seven principles listed below and evaluate yourself by responding honestly to the statements made. A good understanding of our strengths and weaknesses will help us to become more effective transformational leaders.

1. Clarity – Successful leadership begins with a compelling vision, which reflects the shared purpose. The ability to articulate a clear, practical, transformational vision which answers the question, “How will we accomplish our mission?” Illustrations teach this idea – the stonecutters’ tale: The first stonecutter says, “I’m cutting stone,” the second says, “I’m carving a cornerstone,” but the third says, “I’m building a cathedral.” The third has vision. For any team, dialoguing about vision, goals, and objectives unifies the members.

Self-Assessment: Transformational leaders are able to articulate a clear, practical, and transformational vision.

I clearly articulate a clear, concise, and compelling vision to others:

X ———————————————————X

2. Motivation – The ability to gain the agreement and commitment of other people to the vision. Once the transformational leader is able to bring synergy to the organization s/he must then use various means to energize (motivate) the core. General ways to motivate others is to challenge them, provide ample opportunity to join the creative process, and give them the credit.

Self-Assessment: Transformational leaders are highly effective at gaining the agreement and commitment of other people.

I am able to gain the agreement and commitment of others to my vision:

X ———————————————————X

3. Facilitation – The ability to effectively facilitate the learning of individuals, teams, and other reliable resources. Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline says the primary job of leadership is to facilitate the learning’s of others. The organizational quest to learn becomes the leaders greatest asset to address organizational challenges. Transformational leaders have been given a sacred trust of being stewards of their core’s intellectual capital.

Self-Assessment: The ability to effectively facilitate the learning of individuals, teams, and other reliable and reputable resources.

I am facilitating the learning of others:

X ———————————————————X

4. Innovation: The ability to boldly initiate thoughtful change when needed. An effective and efficient organization requires participants to anticipate change and not fear it. Leaders must initiate and respond quickly to change. Team members successfully influence one another to assimilate change because the transformational leaders have built trust and fostered teamwork.

Self-Assessment: The ability to boldly initiate thoughtful change to fulfill the vision.

I am able to initiate thoughtful change effectively:

X ———————————————————X

5. Mobilization – The ability to recruit, train, deploy, monitor, and nurture (RTDMN) others to fulfill the vision. Transformational leaders look for willing participants who have already been given formal leadership responsibilities and also among people who have not. They desire leadership at all levels, so they find ways to invite and ignite leadership all levels. They introduce simple baby steps to enlist larger participants.

Self-Assessment: The ability to enlist, equip and empower others to fulfill the vision.

I am creating a critical mass of leadership around the stated vision:


6. Preparation – To become a life-long learner. Transformational leaders realize that the transformation they pursue in is a reflection of their own quest for learning — that they must serve the world through their giftedness because that is the only way they truly fulfill their life life mission. With this mindset, moments of being stuck become moments of total dependence (on God). This is such a rigorous path of learning that transformational leaders must be in thriving relationships with others pursuing transformation. It is within these vital relationships, life opportunities, and obstacles that leaders gain the perspective and authority to lead effectively. “To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” (Quoted in Visionary Leadership, by Nanus, p.43.)

Self-Assessment: The ability to never stop learning about themselves with and without the help of others.

I am learning new skills and improving myself:


7. Principle of Determination – The ability to finish the race. A leader’s mission is sometime difficult and our journey often lonely. Leaders depend on stamina, endurance, courage, and strength to finish each day. Because our focus is not only on raising our own leadership but the development of others, the most rigorous and humbling of all human endeavors, transformational leaders experience times of self doubt, grief, and fatigue. Transformational leaders have to develop spiritual, emotional, and physical disciplines to sustain a high level of commitment to the cause.

Self-Assessment: The ability to finish the race.
I am completely sold-out to my life mission:


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