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 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.
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. 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.
He provides bean bag chairs in the conference room, and comfortable places to work, not confining his team members to desks. 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. 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.
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
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