Transformational leadership is a current buzzword. But, what exactly makes a leader transformational? In working with several leaders, here’s what I’ve realized:
Transformational leaders are humble. They are committed to make teammates better and smarter than they are. Leadership guru Jim Collins opines, “Transformational leaders are willing to be the dumbest person on the leadership team (Collins, Good To Great, 2001)” They adopt this attitude to increase the capacity of their team to produce extraordinary results. To push your team toward excellence, try the following:
Focus on the power of we. The collective brilliance of the group far outweighs the insight of just one leader. Give your teammates a safe space to share their thoughts and feedback. Let them know that is acceptable to disagree with you. Add your thoughts on a topic last by seeking engagement from others first. Encourage team members who talk to soon or too much to wait until a few people speak before they talk.
Include leaders with diverse strengths and perspectives. Humble leaders recognize and admit their strengths and their weaknesses. This self-awareness serves two purposes: First it helps a leader choose those individuals with complimentary strengths to be on the team. Second, it allows the team to recognize and value their individual and group contributions. For example, you might say, “Steve, I’m not good at ministry evaluation, but you are. What advice do you have for me? How can we work on this together?” Admitting your weakness while acknowledging another’s strength promotes teamwork and collaboration. It models authenticity.
Create a culture of learning. Transformational leaders model lifelong learning. They guide team members to do and learn more than they previously thought they could. To inspire lifelong learning, encourage your team members to grow personally and professionally through study, the practice of innovation, acceptance of failure, and perseverance. Collaborate with your team members to establish personal and professional growth plans. Invest your time identifying the skills they need to improve or acquire. Once learning goals have been established, search for avenues to fulfill those plans. When team members learn new skills and concepts, have them share their discoveries with the the rest of the team. When the team improves together, your capacity to lead grows as well.