Business objectives are like mountaintops, and it takes leadership skills and qualities to reach them. Some people climb mountains because they’re there. Others develop ‘summit fever’ as the planning, preparations, dangers, challenges, lessons, and rewards help them become the best they can be. Transformational leaders are like that. They target a seemingly insurmountable goal and help their team shape professional and personal achievements around meeting that goal.
They don’t waste time trying to whittle mountains down to the size of mole hills in order to master them. Rather, they embrace the size, height, and scope of the monumental task in front of them by helping their team develop the leadership skills and qualities that will make them grow in stature.
Transformational leadership is a term first coined by a leadership guru named James McGregor Burns in 1978 in his landmark book, Leadership. His definition of transformational leadership is “leaders and their followers raising one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.”
Transformational leaders understand that their leadership style is also a lifestyle. So in all areas of their lives and in all of their relationships, they set the bar high, walk the tightrope skillfully, and in so doing, inspire others to cultivate their own leadership skills and qualities.
They bolster the strengths of those around them, and in a professional setting, they shore up their subordinates’ weaknesses through strong professional development training. They rouse in their team members a belief in the existence of a “best self” – and a desire to be their best and the confidence that they can get there from here.
Here is a place, an environment, an atmosphere charged with the enthusiasm, support, and resources each member of the team needs to meet the professional and personal goals they set. Transformational leaders set their team members up for success from the outset. Failure is not an option because the personal success of each person is paramount.
The transformational leader inspires his followers to buy into their own success by stirring in them a conviction that their own growth is as important as the completion of the project at hand. They aren’t just challenged to make it. They’re groomed, trained and supported so that the only possible outcome is a good one.
It’s an organic process. As each worker scales personal heights, the professional milestones are achieved with fluidity. Deadlines and quotas are met. Productivity soars. The team flourishes because each worker is carefully nurtured.
The leadership skills and qualities of a transformational executive are imbued with vision and purpose, and a strong connection to the humanity of their team. Subordinates aren’t just cogs in a machine to these managers. Consequently they know how, when and whom to push and pull. They know who needs building up and how to provide that support. They know how to showcase the strengths of their star players without alienating the wanna-bes.
Their excitement when a summit is reached is as much about the personal fulfillment of their team members as it is about meeting a quota, making a deadline or increasing the company’s profit margin.