As a business leader, inspiring people to follow you in pursuit of your company’s mission is your job.
After all, your personal success is directly linked to the success of the company. If the top and bottom lines don’t improve, you don’t have a winning team. And if your culture and organization aren’t wired for sustainable growth, you won’t succeed.
That being said, you have to offer your employees — your company’s life source — something more than self-gain. You have to give them an encouraging vision and an identity. Once you do that, you become something bigger than yourself. You become a transformational leader, and your business becomes resilient.
Once you offer your employees an encouraging vision and an identity you become a transformative leaders, and your business becomes resilient.
The new leader
The theory of transformational leadership actually began in politics. James MacGregor Burns, a political science professor and presidential biographer, introduced the concept.
He described it as a mutual, ongoing process in which leaders and followers (i.e., employees) raise each other up to achieve bigger and better goals. Transformational leaders drive their followers past the short-term goals to focus on higher-order needs.
If this sounds like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it’s because Burns actually drew influence from the famous psychologist. A transformational leader recognizes that his employees have needs that directly impact how they perform. Leaders who meet these needs will provide value, purpose, and meaning.
This idea turns leadership on its head. We’re unlocking a way of thinking that goes far deeper than numerical rankings on an annual performance appraisal. And those who have studied this concept have done so because it produces results. Ronald E. Riggio, a professor of organizational psychology, found that groups led by transformational leaders actually performed better and were more satisfied. This is because transformational leaders believe that their followers can perform, which empowers and inspires the group.
Sometimes it’s easier to see these qualities outside of the business world: Picture the football coach in the big game, the SEAL team leader on a dangerous mission, or the politician asking his constituents for sacrifice.
Transformational leaders believe that their followers can perform, which empowers and inspires the group.
But these lessons can easily be applied to your business. In my experience, transformational leadership inspires people to follow you in turbulent times, helps employees embrace the company’s values, and strengthens your working relationships. All of these things benefit the bottom line.
Take the steps toward transformational leadership
Luckily, employing a transformational leadership style isn’t difficult. You can start by focusing on transformation over transactions, the whole human being, long-term relationships, and leading with a shared purpose.
However, if you’re ready to dive deep into transformational leadership, here are five things you can do:
- Communicate constantly. Transformational leaders are always there to offer support and encouragement to their followers. Keep your company’s lines of communication open so your employees can share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. And make sure you actually listen to them.
- Fulfill your employees’ needs. This relates to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Your employees are all human beings who need safety, security, respect, and recognition. When you fulfill those needs, your employees will perform better and be more loyal to your company.
- Push your employees. Support your employees in everything they do, but also challenge the status quo and encourage them to explore new territory. Treat every day as a chance to learn something new.
- Give employees context for their work. Transformational leaders have a clear vision for their companies and, more importantly, share that vision with their followers. Instill passion and motivation in your employees by giving them context for their work.
- Be a “rouser.” A rouser is adaptable, innovative, goal-oriented, and committed to common objectives. He seeks outside opinions and has the inner strength to bring out the power in others. He is the kind of leader you should strive to be.
It’s easy to spend our days on activities, but if you and your employees don’t understand the purpose behind those activities, there’s a high likelihood that they’ll miss the mark. You need to step back from all the day-to-day distractions and think. Spend time deciding what your company stands for, and then view all business activities through that lens.
It’s important to be mindful about yourself, understand what’s relevant in your life and why, and enjoy life and work.
Being self-aware and understanding the best way to interact with others supports everything you do as a leader
If we don’t understand people — including ourselves — we can’t hope to run a successful business. Being self-aware and understanding the best way to interact with others supports everything you do as a leader. To put it more bluntly, all your efforts can be completely undermined if you can’t relate to others. Transformation isn’t just nice to have — it’s absolutely crucial.