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Elon Musk’s Secret to Leading Changes in the World: Transformational Leadership

Elon Musk’s Secret to Leading Changes in the World: Transformational Leadership

Elon Musk plans to send tourists around the moon, colonists to Mars and hack our brains. Yes, it sounds totally insane and impossible! Yet, as the co-founder of PayPal and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, he has already achieved the unthinkable – seamless transactions of cash across the internet, creating a reusable rocket and landing it vertically on a floating platform.

His secret to success? He doesn’t lead teams like ordinary leaders. He is a transformational leader.

What is Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a kind of leadership which the leader doesn’t just tell team members to do what he/she thinks is right. Instead they work with them to identify the potential opportunities and problems, and develop the strategies with them.

Transformational leaders[1] are just that – those men and women who change the world. With an uncanny ability to spot the antiquated and inefficient components in established systems, they use a team and constant feedback, to tweak and alter the systems, plugging monetary drains as well, or setting up completely new models, their vision realized, dream accomplished.

Characteristics of Transformational Leaders

Leaders who change the world share these traits in common:

They’re able to create a great vision.

They see a need and are able to envision an answer or gather their team players to brainstorm possible solutions. The vision becomes their mission.

They empathize with their employees.

They work side-by-side with their team members on projects. Though they’re the team leader, they’re able to positively influence their team through close rapport. They’re in-tune with their team players needs and concerns.

They never stop to inspire their members. 

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These leaders know they are responsible for the team. It is their job to inspire, keep everyone’s head in the game and cheer the team on to the finish line.

They provide all the support members need. 

The goal of a transformational leader is not only completing the task, but also providing the tools and encouragement to team players during the mission in order to develop future leaders.

Real Life Examples of Amazing Transformational Leaders

There’re a lot of successful transformational leaders who have inspired their team and the world. Let’s look at some of the examples.

Richard Branson: the king of taking care of the team

Richard Branson, founder and CEO of the Virgin Group embodies the spirit of transformational leadership. He once said,

“Train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

With a reputation for ‘happy and playful’ companies, from Virgin Mobile, Virgin Money, Virgin Media and more, Branson’s companies offer employees unlimited vacation time among their perks. He makes sure he takes care of his team. The laid-back Branson believes in the simple formula: happy staff = happy customers.[2] His successful business ventures prove this philosophy works.

Vishen Lakhiani: change the way we think

Mindvalley founder and CEO, Vishen Lakhiani believes in smashing the rules. His unique employee- friendly company, based on transformational education, encourages creativity and interaction.

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He provides bean bag chairs in the conference room, and comfortable places to work, not confining his team members to desks.[3] Every year he hosts the Awesomeness Fest, a party/learning experience in a tropical location, introducing new ideas and innovative ways of changing the way people think and view their world.

Thinking outside the box may prove a challenge for some, but for Lakhiani, the box doesn’t even exist!

Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Gandhi and many more: change the societies

Although it appears that transformational leadership has reached a crescendo during our time, many leaders throughout history have used the practices to change the world as we know it. Without it, we would still be living in caves.

Henry Ford’s envisioned the automobile and gathered a team together to make his dream a reality.

Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone.

Tesla and Thomas Edison, Electricity.

Nelson Mandela stood his ground against apartheid in South Africa.[4] He created a momentum that swept across the world, ending apartheid and unifying his country.

Gandhi, another transformational leader, changed society in India through peace.

None of these leaders could have achieved their visions without motivating a team to back them up.

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How to Become a Transformational Leader

1. Have a vision so that you can sell it to your team

Do you see a solution to a problem? An area of society that could be improved? An outdated system in your workplace that needs an overhaul?

Observe what’s lacking in the world and aspire to improve it.

2. Gather a team of like-minded people

Get a team or tribe of like-minded individuals together. If your values and goals are too different, the following steps won’t work no matter how hard you work on it.

To do that, put yourself out there, join communities and conferences related to what you care about. Network and meet people who share your ambition.

3. Brainstorm solutions with your team members

Brainstorm different possible solutions to the problem with your team. Don’t just tell them what to do without discussing with them beforehand. Only bad leaders would think they know it all.

List out as many options as possible. Evaluate the cost and benefits of the potential solutions, list out their pros and cons. Select the most efficient answer to work on.

4. Write a concrete action plan

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Write down what is required: tools, money, time to make the best solution work.

Break down big tasks into smaller ones, make sure each task is actionable.

5. Make your goal a mission

Make your goal ambitious and achievable. Share your mission with your team and align everyone’s effort with the ultimate goal.

A clear goal can also motivate the team throughout the way.

6. Always keep your team in mind.

Be the cheerleader, the head coach and work with your team towards the goal.

Talk to your team and listen to their concerns. Take actions accordingly. The best leaders foster growth, independence and creativity.

7. Celebrate your victories and learn from your failures.

Celebrate the small wins, no matter how small they are, don’t take them for granted. Take every mistake made as a chance to learn. Do 5 Whys, find out the root cause of the mistake, learn from it and solve it once and for all.

Embrace transformational leadership, gather your tribe and change the world.

Featured photo credit: Heisenberg Media via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Langston.edu: Transformational Leadership
[2] Virgin.com: Look After Your Staff
[3] MindvalleyInsights.com: Building the World’s Greatest Workplace
[4] thefamouspeople.com: Nelson Mandela Biography

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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