Transformational Leadership: Do You Have What It Takes?

by | Jan 20, 2015 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

What leaders have stood out for you in your business life as being transformational?  No doubt a few will come to mind and indeed some that were definitely not.  So what is it about certain individuals that we warm to and are happy to be lead by?
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When I facilitate leadership workshops, whether it is with those leading organisational change or operational leaders, or speak on leadership at conferences, I often refer to the research undertaken by James Kouzes and Barry Posner which is part of their book The Leadership Challenge, which was first published in 1987.
One of the areas they explore is the qualities/attributes that individuals want their leaders to exhibit.   They surveyed many staff from different industries and sectors.
The top four attributes that people responded with were:
1. Honesty
2. Forward-thinking
3. Competent
4. Inspiring
As this survey was undertaken over 20 years ago, I was intrigued to find out whether these results still held true or whether things had changed.  I therefore undertook a survey with my business contacts that simply asked the question, “In one word what is the key attribute that you believe transformational leaders demonstrate?” The survey received responses from throughout the world, from all sectors and from people in all levels of organisations. Apart from the letter Z, every letter was used by people from Ability right through to Wisdom.
The top four attributes that people responded with were:
1. Integrity
2. Passion
3. Visionary
4. Empathy
 

The larger the word, the more times it appeared as a response

The larger the word, the more times it appeared as a response


The definition of each of these words in the Oxford English Dictionary are as follows:
“The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”

Integrity: “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”


 
An intense desire or enthusiasm for something

Passion: “An intense desire or enthusiasm for something”


“Thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom”

Visionary: “Thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom”


 
Empathy: “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another”

Empathy: “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another”


It is interesting therefore how little has changed over 20 years in terms of what we want to see in our leaders.
Honesty aligns closely with Integrity, as does Forward-thinking with Visionary. Likewise Passion with Inspiring.  The new word appearing is Empathy which has replaced Competent.
So, if you are a Leader, do you demonstrate these attributes on a regular basis?  If you are led, does your Leader demonstrate these attributes effectively and is recognised as a Transformational Leader?
All the best, Nick
P.S. If you would like to understand more about Narcissism in the workplace, please do read my article, More Sinister & Destructive Than Bullying.

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