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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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Sally White

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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