Observations on Transformational Leadership

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I read this fascinating article on the weekend in the HBR.

You can read it HERE

I have my 10 rules of Transformational Leadership, so it was interesting to get a observational perspective from an analysis of 2017’s ranked top transformational leaders.

The analysis focused on the leader’s ability to re-position their organisations. Interesting, as Transformation is all about the re-positioning when it’s all said and done.

So, rather than just looking at simply revenue or a subjective measure like “innovativeness”, the assessment looked at:

  • New Growth generated – that is new products, services, and business models
  • Core Re-positioning – the adaption of a legacy model to change and disrupt, and
  • Financial Performance against best in class benchmarks.

Good stuff!

The summary of the findings is:

  1. Transformational leaders tend to be Insider Outsiders – they don’t come from the traditional core of the business, rather from an emerging business within the organisation or from an adjacent business. This helped drive transformation with an understanding of how to do so in the organisation.
  2. They strategically pursue TWO separate journeys – they look to re-position the core business whilst at the same time actively investing in new growth businesses. Just changing the core doesn’t drive real transformation and, arguably, doesn’t reflect a real journey to change (think Apple with the re-invigoration of the Mac coupled with the new iPhone).
  3. They use culture change to drive engagement – they move from the traditional risk-averse (we have to protect the core) approach to one where they are nimble and fast and able to produce small increments all the time – this changes the risk appetite in the business and therefore its culture.
  4. They communicate a powerful narrative about the future – they become the story-teller-in-chief and they tell different aspects of the story to different stakeholders to make it relevant to them. Consistently.
  5. They develop a roadmap before disruption takes hold – transformation can take a long time, so that means getting started fast is important, sometimes without a really clear vision of the end state. Developing the milestones and roadmap is therefore important but so is ensuring that it is adaptable as it will evolve as lessons, technology, and other things change.

Fascinating perspective – not theory but observations.

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