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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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