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We admire transformational leaders because in the face of impossible odds, complex environments and unimagined situations,...
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Transformation: Lead in times of change


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Article published in Leadership Excellence, February 2009

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Transformation: Lead in times of change

  1. 1. Search Biography February TOC Cynthia and Bill Adams are partners with Maxcomm. Visit or email or Transformation BILL ADAMS & CYNTHIA ADAMS Application Tools Leadership Guide: Outlines the best Doing something differently is a natural ways to use this program to help develop response to the changing world. Becoming personal and professional leadership. something different changes the world by transforming what is within Excellence-in-Action Guide: Capture an us. article's main idea, or ideas, and apply these ideas and insights to your life and work. CHANGE / TRANSFORMATION Article Worksheet: Read an article to find In analyzing the last presidential campaign, pundits, linguists and bloggers dissected insights that apply directly to you and your political speeches by creating cloud tags to visualize the content of speeches and team and set personal and team goals. quickly identify frequently-used words. Strategists clearly honed in on two words that struck a chord with the American electorate: “change” and “transform.” Personal Excellence Plan: Create a personal vision and mission, identify priorities, and set SMART goals in those In terms of leadership, these two words are not necessarily interchangeable. areas of life that matter most to you. Circumstances can be rapidly and dramatically altered, as recent events have illustrated. While change can often be accomplished by doing something differently or Monthly Goalsheet: Set monthly SMART by doing different things, transformation requires seeing things differently as well. A shift goals for your company in the seven of this magnitude requires that effective leaders be agile enough to think beyond the dimensions of leadership excellence. solutions often provided by transactional behaviors and move toward transformational behaviors. Performance Team Sheet: Read an article to identify ideas that apply directly Transactional leadership is rational, based on principles of exchange and to your team and set goals with the expectation: you do this for me, and in turn, if satisfied, I will do this for you. corporate mission, vision, and values in Transactional leadership sets goals, determines rewards, and evaluates and assesses mind. performance. This leadership is oriented from the outside in; operates from a position of power; and responds reactively to situations. It does not tap into the need employees Action Items have to find meaning in their work. And leaders who operate using only transactional behaviors risk modifying their style of leadership and falling into patterns to meet the Excellence in Action: Help people see needs and perceived expectations of their followers. how their work matters. Transactional leadership comes from a place that is familiar and comfortable. Yet effective leadership skills are seldom surfaced by making obvious choices, looking backwards, or falling back on conventional wisdom. When challenges require making large changes in a compressed timeframe, transactional leadership often results in only incremental improvements gained from isolated changes. Transformational leadership creates a shift in the way people think, see, and connect to their environment. It is oriented from the inside out, deriving authority not from title but from mutual trust and respect. It recognizes the value of others, engages everyone, and seeks to recognize and develop untapped potential. It challenges, inspires, and declares that everything is open to consideration—nothing is off the table. Transformational leaders respond adaptively to situations and see risk-taking as a necessity, and opportunity for innovation and problem-solving. Such leadership is inclusive; it articulates a shared vision for the future and encourages those involved to feel that they’re a part of something bigger, and to have a hand in defining what “bigger” will mean. Transformational leaders harness people’s desire for a better future and channel that desire into active engagement, commitment, and participation. They exhibit courageous authenticity, are purposeful and visionary, have a strategic focus, achieve results, display interpersonal intelligence, foster team play, aim for sustainable productivity, and are systems thinkers. They also recognize the role their personal transformation plays. They become more self-aware and systems-aware in order to direct, engage, and focus people. They explore how their beliefs and values shaped the old culture and choose what shifts they’ll make in support of the new culture. They acknowledge that engagement and commitment to change won’t take hold among stakeholders if leadership resides only in the hands of a few people at the top. They believe that leaders and followers can raise each other to higher motivation and morality. Beyond sharing a vision for change, they develop the role of leadership throughout the organization, creating an expanded group of leaders.
  2. 2. We admire transformational leaders because in the face of impossible odds, complex environments and unimagined situations, they see and convey a new vision. They inspire us with dreams, challenge us by defining our roles and responsibilities, and engage us by making us believe that we are an integral and vital part of a solution that will lead to something greater. Doing something differently is a natural response to the changing world. Becoming something different changes the world by transforming what is within us. LE February 2009