What is a transformational leader?

what is a transformational leader

On setting up Get Knowledge a number of questions were posed about what we are aiming to do, who we will work with etc etc. One of these questions was around our purpose. Now, if you saw my video back in October 2018 when I moved away from employment you’ll know that I’m big on purpose. So much so that defining the reason for being in Get Knowledge was paramount.

As we progressed the conversation we landed around building capability and looked for a way to describe the people outcome that we gathered around. As we captured the traits we were helped by google and pointed towards the concept of ‘Transformational Leadership’ as a way of describing what we do. We create transformational leaders.

What are transformational leaders?

Google throws up lots of reading around this subject but here’s a summary:

Transformational leaders are described to hold positive expectations for followers, believing that they can do their best. As a result, they inspire, empower, and stimulate followers to exceed normal levels of performance. Transformational leaders also focus on and care about followers and their personal needs and development.[7] Transformational leaders fit well in leading and working with complex work groups and organizations, where beyond seeking an inspirational leader to help guide them through an uncertain environment, followers are also challenged and feel empowered; this nurtures them into becoming loyal, high performers

There are a number of components outlined depending on what you read but we pulled out the key traits that we identified our way of working with and this is what we arrived at. We believe that these 6 traits are fundamental to our take on the concept of transformational leaders (even if they aren’t mentioned in a google search) and are a way of describing the main elements we look to develop in people when working with clients both businesses and individuals.

Lets take a look at the 6 areas in a bit more detail:

  1. Focus on Customer – these people always maintain a laser like focus on Customer. After all there is no product or service without the Customer. They target improvements around the Customer to enable businesses to grow in a sustainable way.
  2. Act on the system, not the individual – they don’t start by looking for individuals to blame for a problem, they look to the system and aim at more difficult questions, ones that involve Why? They continually look for ways to improve the system for the good of the people and ultimately the Customer
  3. Measure what matters’ to Customers – they don’t settle for silo’d measures that don’t relate to what matters. They challenge the good in measures and continually search for better measures to be able to make better decisions. Where measures aren’t driving the required behaviours or outcomes they looking to learn from these and influence the business towards better measures.
  4. Demonstrate other centredness and great behaviours – they work with the people. They look to understand different perspectives on a given situation and act with empathy to first of all understand before working on ways to collaborate to move things forwards.
  5. Mentor others to follow the same path – They are always on the look out for how they can build capability and pay development on. As they develop they develop others in these traits so that leadership as a whole is more able to deal with transformation in this way.
  6. Challenge the current norms – they constantly question the way we do things. Always looking for the next ‘Why’. Ways of working that have always been the way we do things are questioned. Continuous improvement of the whole is their way

Aren’t all leaders transformational?

No. There is an argument to say that all leaders are charged with some element of transformation in their roles but that doesn’t mean they exhibit the traits of a transformational leader (especially one that fits the traits we’ve outlined above).

We set up Get Knowledge to help build transformational leaders wherever we can because we see a need based on the places we have been to date.


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