Transformational leaders like Azim Premji, Sunil Mittal, and Ajay Piramal have the uncanny ability to motivate their teams to act independently and efficiently. Such leaders lay aside the transactional method of seeking performance through rewards and punishments for an approach based on the pursuit of higher ideals.
Today, business entrepreneurs aim for transformational leadership as a strategy to secure long-term success and buffer against unknowns. While many successful entrepreneurs possess the innate knack for galvanising teams, learning the art of transformational leadership is not only possible but necessary. In fact, another transformational leader, Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman & Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv, points out that successful leaders “continuously innovate, transform, and reinvent themselves.”
He goes on to say that his success as a leader lies in “finding the right people with a hunger for entrepreneurship and empowering them to think like owners. This has been a key differentiator in my own journey.”
So, how do you reinvent yourself as a transformational leader to do the same and achieve unerring growth? According to Bernard Bass, a key scholar of transformational leadership theory, you should be able to inspire and motivate. To get started on your transformational leadership journey, try these 5 ways to inspire and motivate.
- Steer: With a compelling vision
On considering the lives of transformational leaders, you’ll identify more than personal genius. Such leaders have a roadmap and know where they are going. As a leader, having a vision that is both clear and flexible to make room for adapting and pivoting to new scenarios is a good starting point. When employees have a clear vision, they surmount hurdles of all shapes and sizes to arrive at solutions. By seeing an end goal that is attractive and achievable, employees respond with teamwork, creativity, and innovation.
- Connect: Emotionally and individually
As a thought leader, it’s key to realise that your vision becomes a reality only through channels of trust and relationships. Simply put, your people need to believe before they can achieve. Successful entrepreneurs are known to treat people as their most valuable asset. To be a transformational leader, a core skill to focus on is empathy.
It is critical to know each employee’s strengths and pain points and invest in their holistic well-being thus becoming critical. Employees thrive in environments where they feel truly cared for and not simply used as a means to an end. When pushed to the limit, employees are more likely to respond generously if they trust you and know you trust in their ability to deliver.
- Show: How it is to be done
Employees look up to those who put their words into action, and transformational leaders excel at leading by example. Your behaviour is where your team sees your domain-specific expertise and your commitment to values like integrity, honesty, and selflessness.
Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv, insists that exploring new digital frontiers is important, it must be done the “Bajaj way.” He places value on ethics above success: “The market may go up or down, but we need to be transparent and explain things to customers.” All of this rubs off on employees and leaves a lasting impact, becoming a blueprint they follow in the future.
- Pursue: Value over success
If success were the only indicator of growth, many of the world’s innovations wouldn’t be born. Thomas Edison’s hundreds of failed experiments were key to the incandescent bulb seeing the light of day. Looking back, he’d say, “I have not failed.” Leading business entrepreneurs teach their employees to think critically: “What have we learned from this unsuccessful attempt?” Such an approach fosters intellectual stimulation and promotes out-of-the-box thinking. As a transformational leader, ensure that your teams retain the license to invent.
- Empower: By giving ownership
Successful entrepreneurs divide and rule. Giving employees ownership over initiatives is how you dispense authority, put trust into action, and proliferate your vision. Transformational leaders go a step further. They assure employees that they have their backs.
Abdul Kalam is widely regarded as a preeminent transformational leader of our age. Reflecting on his first major failure, when a satellite he launched plunged into the Bay of Bengal, he would remember the decisive way the then ISRO chief, Satish Dhawan, responded. “When failure occurred, the leader of the organisation owned that failure,” Kalam said. “When success came, he gave it to his team.”
Transformational leadership shows itself through results larger than life and achievements beyond a single person’s capabilities. Considering the importance of transformational leadership and how to adopt this approach, be persistent and stick to your guns. In time, your approach will spur new ways of doing things, cement a thought leadership strategy, and build a workplace where innovation, passion, and creativity are home.