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3 Ways For Leaders to Be “Transformative” Leaders

May 20, 2013

I have been writing and speaking about transformational leadership for quite some time. In the next month I will be unveiling my new website and will be sharing more about my view on the future of leadership.
We are moving away from solitary leadership and moving towards collaborative leadership. This concept can often confuse leaders who are already successful and have come up through the many decades of different leadership philosophies.

When we talk about transformational leadership questions come up such as, “how can I be a collaborative leader when I have to make fast decisions?” or “collaborative leadership sounds great in theory but how does in work in practice?”. These questions are important as they help us to establish the differences between solitary or lone wolf leadership and collaborative leadership.

Before we get into the 3 ways for leaders to be transformative leaders lets look at the comparisons between the past and current solitary style of leadership and the modern and future style of collaborative leadership:

Solitary                                                         Collaborative

Autocratic                                                     Democratic

Makes decisions on own                              Makes decisions by gathering input/data

Dictatorial                                                     Conversational

Sets direction on own vision                        Sets direction with input

Tells customers what they need                  Listens to customers for what they want

Stressful                                                      Less stress

Minimally dynamic for company                  Transformative change and evolution

You can see that the above shows the shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’ and creates more buy in from employees and more of an equalized power base. Research shows that leaders who are inclusive, friendly as well as authoritative (leaders still need to balance taking the lead with being inclusive) have higher retention and more engaged employees with higher morale.

So how do we make the transition towards being a more transformative leader?

Here are 3 ways to consider:

1. The best way to make the move towards more inclusiveness is to increase self development. In my experience the leaders who have done a large amount of work on themselves, on understanding others and on seeing others as part of the solution are what I would consider master leaders. Often leaders are so busy ‘doing’ that rarely do they take the time to focus on internal motivation, revisit values and mission and step away to take a look at their leadership with a wider lens.

2. Consistent breakthroughs in thought are the result of highly creative leaders. Creativity is the ability to put things together that may not seem remotely alike. Many leaders I have worked with cannot see alternative solutions to their situations. This is why consultants are still highly valued, he or she brings in fresh thought and new eyes on the way things have been done. In my opinion transformative leaders have developed their creativity to extraordinary levels and allows them to see more possible solutions. They also realize that creativity is best shared and having regular conversations on creative ideas with their teams allow for breakthroughs and innovation.

3. A willingness to personally change. Let’s face it when we have become successful with what we have done its a hard sell to get us to change. We might ask ourselves, “why should I?”The new reality is that we can no longer rest on our laurels of past success. Transformational leaders are constantly looking for ways to challenge themselves and to learn and grow. They are keen learners, they know that they have a successful past and that does not prevent them from wanting to adapt, change and grow with the current and future reality.

The move towards transformational leadership is inevitable as technology and demographics continue to influence the workplace. Even for those reading this who may be thinking, “well I am going to retire soon- so why bother?” there is still impetus for the shift to being a transformational person- we cannot hide from the world changes. We will not retire like our parents did, studies show we will all be working until at least the age of 75.

We can choose to live the rest of our life and our work life as transformational leaders.

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