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Transformational Leadership

Updated: Feb 16

A new kind of leadership is emerging because of the significant shifts in all aspects of organizational life. This kind of leadership enables demonstrating new and innovative ways to drive value and deliver mission impact in an ever-changing organizational environment. This new leadership allows individuals and organizations to thrive at the edge of chaos, inspiring the innovation and creativity needed to develop new products and technologies, even new business models that can lead to sustainable competitive advantage in the new economy. This new form of leading is called "transformational leadership." 

The spirit of transformational leadership is grounded in the ethos of pioneering, innovating, and exploring new dimensions of human endeavor. This holistic view of how opportunity is created and captured in the organizational setting provides greater insight into how a company can fully integrate people, processes, and technology toward achieving its goals and creating a sustainable competitive advantage. The competency of transformational leadership provides leaders and managers with a whole new way to energize and enliven individual contributors to deliver their best effort and ideas to organizational objectives as a matter of personal expression and professional esprit décor. 

The context for transformational leadership includes visionary acumen that can articulate winning and success in a way that captures the imagination of others. In doing so, like-minded contributors can be invited to add their views to amplify the meaning and purpose of the company so that everyone is inspired to do their best work and serve the more significant needs of the enterprise and its customers. 

The complexities of the knowledge economy are so perplexing that thought leaders and managers need to redefine what it means to deliver ever-increasing yet sustainable high performance. 

Learning becomes a key enabler of transformational leadership because of the dynamics of a generally chaotic social and economic environment. This means that today's leader-managers must commit to a personal development process that expands their capacity for understanding themselves in relation to the people they collaborate with, the technology that supports them, and the customers they serve. Leading in this way also entails providing support and resources to others for their growth and development toward achieving mission objectives. 

Since the path of progress for knowledge-era organizations is unpaved, leaders within these organizations will have to catalyze the creativity and innovation of individual contributors to find new ways to delight customers and fend off would-be competitors. It does not mean that the leader must provide creativity or innovation, but rather, she must be an enabling force for change by unleashing creativity and the spirit of innovation in others. In this way, the transformational leader paves the way for individual contributors to do their best work, driving value to the bottom line through outstanding products and services that benefit customers. The pioneering spirit is grounded in providing resources and removing obstacles for others in the work group, project team, or organization. 

In the 21st century, the days of incremental improvement as the definitive improvement process are over. The capacity of leaders to generate breakthroughs in organizational performance, technical excellence, and human and social capitalization is a requirement in today's marketplace. These breakthroughs in knowledge and performance occur most often in the context of community, learning communities that seek to leverage all members' unique capabilities and talents. By fostering inclusion, diversity, and shared learning, the new leader can develop an organizational capacity for performance at all levels that competitor organizations do not easily match. 

The key directional ideas of transformation leadership are: 

  • Open systems - this idea is about recognizing the interconnections and inter-relationships between just about everything. It's about creating synergies between people, processes, and technology. It's about influence vs. control. 

  • Chaos - this idea points to the sheer magnitude of interconnections, relationships, and dependencies that defy categorization and manipulation. It is also about the natural order inherent in seemingly chaotic events that can be harnessed as a source of creativity, innovation, and inspiration. 

  • Willingness - is about influence, confluence, and synergy vs. domination, control, or willfulness. To be willing is to attract and allow things (people, process, technology, opportunity) to self-organize vs. imposing order and "making things happen." 

  • Defiance is about standing in the face of opportunity, at the edge of what is possible, and doing everything humanly possible (ethically and morally correct) to achieve goals that drive the mission and fulfill the organization's vision. 

From the behavioral standpoint, transformational leadership begins with self-development and extends to the coaching and development of others. It is about ensuring the people around you have the tools and resources they require to do their best work. It is about taking personal responsibility to remove the barriers that inhibit the optimal sustainable performance of people who follow you. This kind of leadership is about recognizing the explicit and implicit value of individuals, networks, and relationships and providing energy and inspiration for others to achieve the mutual aim of the enterprise. It's the kind of leadership we most want for ourselves, so we offer it to others.

© 2001-2024 Dr. Marcus Robinson All Rights Reserved.

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