How do you best inspire others? By being who you want them to be and doing what you want them to do. By walking the talk. By leading by example. By enthusiastically sharing your vision and inspiring them to join you in making it a reality.
One who inspires trust, respect and admiration in his followers to the degree that they agree to work with him toward a common goal for the betterment of all—that person is a transformational leader.
Remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., giving his inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial? How about John F. Kennedy motivating Congress to support his dream of sending an American to the moon? Both transformational.
According to John Juzbasich, CEO of Merit Career Development, transformational leaders such as King and Kennedy—and millions of others such as teachers, scout leaders and heads of community groups—work toward change that is for the good of the whole. They provide needed guidance in times of change, whether it be societal, environmental or policy.
Transformational leadership has four pillars:
- Inspirational Motivation is the passionate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., facing millions of inspired supporters in Washington, D.C., using powerful words in a powerful speech in an attempt to bring about profound societal change.
- Intellectual Stimulation challenges others to reach for the stars. Literally, in Kennedy’s case. As Juzbasich says, “We weren’t even a player in the space race at that time!” Some great benefits came out of that challenge being taken up in 1961: space blankets, Velcro, and dried foods are all invented byproducts of the space race.
- When the group looks up to its leader and wants to be like her, that leader has Idealized Influence. Both attitude and behavior must match; this is where the leader must walk her talk.
- Individualized Consideration. Think about Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers. He knew each football player on his team so well, he knew exactly how best to motivate them to inspire performances beyond all expectations.
“You see people who work toward positive change all over the world and they are changing the world in various ways,” says Juzbasich. “We all have these qualities. They can be measured and developed. Paint a picture of a better world and inspire your people to want what you want, reframing the task so the person feels honor and prestige.”
A transformational leader is a role model who challenges team members to ‘own’ their work. He understands the individual strengths and weaknesses of those he seeks to inspire and assigns tasks appropriately so that team members can be successful.
And he doesn’t stop there. Transformational leaders not only inspire others to pursue a task that was thought to be impossible, they empower group members to grow into inspirational and transformational leaders themselves.
Just as these leaders expect the best of themselves and strive to perform at their highest level, they expect the same from their teams. That expectation, along with the leader’s belief in them, continues to inspire the group to do its best, in turn creating higher levels of satisfaction all around.
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