Personal Growth
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Personal Growth

3 Ways to Shift from Transactional to Transformational Leadership

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost leadership in our organizations, political structure, schools and communities. This has had a trickle down effect into our personal and professional lives.

When we begin our search for the answers, we realize they’re not very hard to find. As times change, culture changes. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. In these cultural changes, the one constant should be our values. But lately, we’re struggling to identify what our core values actually are. The farther we get from our values, the more everything begins to feel like a transaction.

We turn people away when we’re only focused on improving our lot. “Forget everyone else” starts as a minor decision that grows into a losing long-term strategy. Want to advance at your new job? Meet as many new people as you can. Take the time to know them. That’s step one in becoming more transformational. Only relying on building relationships when you need them? That’s a recipe for disaster.

Values Make Leaders

You have to maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values. — Jeff Weiner

Values often go unnoticed. Unacknowledged. We tend to put up a wall — a resistance to a collectively agreed upon set of core beliefs. Maybe it’s the anti-establishment nature of our being. Maybe it’s not rooted in anything of psychological significance.

So, what are some values that leaders assimilate into their arsenal? I’m talking about honesty, confidence, perseverance, kindness and humility. These are universally accepted and beneficial values. They are key components to leadership — no matter the venue.

If you asked Steve Jobs what made him great, he would have told you intelligent direction and hard work. He also would have told you enthusiasm and passion for what you do! It’s why one of his famous quotes — from an all-time epic speech — is an exhortation to follow your heart. Values matter to all-time great businessmen and women. But also to you and me.

Values provide us with a framework for how to raise our families. How we determine who we want in a spouse. How we decide to leave our mark on the world. Values help us to focus on transforming the lives of the people around us, so that anyone who comes in contact with us, is better off for having met us.

The 3 Ways

Great leaders — in any endeavor — are first concerned with developing and adding value to the people they lead! This is what makes smart leadership transformational, not transactional. As promised, I now focus on three ways to improve the way we lead — in every part of our lives.

1. Values:

Lead with Your Values

What we do defines who we are. Values provide that definition and core structure for decision-making and relationship-building. I believe so much in living with core values that I’ve devoted an entire book to it! I decided several years ago to select core values that I want to live up to and build my life on. It’s led me to opportunities and relationships I only could have dreamed of previously.

Values are the foundation on which the most successful and respected people build their life. Want others to admire the way you carry yourself? Live with honesty and integrity? Want to live a bolder, more fulfilling life? Love with all your heart and treat people with kindness and respect. Hoping to realize your dreams? Persevere, work hard and burn with an enthusiasm — a fire — that is unmatched by your peers.

Values, as the great Mahatma Gandhi once said, become our destiny.

2. Culture:

“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.” — Jawaharlal Nehru

Invest in People 1st. Profit comes 2nd

So you’re an entrepreneur. Business owner. Student. Maybe you think “the show” is all about you. Wrong. We will never make it on our own in this life. We work hard, approach things with a positive attitude and still, we rely on others to get where we want to be. Invest in yourself. But invest in the people around you. No, not necessarily the financial type of investment.

Time! Our most precious resource. Your time is limited. So make the decision to invest time in improving yourself and adding value to the lives of others. I have a musician friend who’s a great guitar player. He donates his time toward providing free lessons for underprivileged kids. That’s giving back. But it also brings leadership, love and joy to his life!

Here’s an example in the professional world from a model company. Zappos…

“pays 100 percent of premiums for medical, dental, vision, and primary care visits, and it offers free generic prescriptions. The company prefers to have employees work on their own, instead of being traditionally managed by a supervisor, in the hopes of encouraging creativity and self-direction.”

Be concerned with people. It’s the mark of a leader.

3. Relationships:

Relationships Lead to Opportunity for All

Every new job and every creative opportunity I’ve launched was born from great relationships. I would be nothing without the support, encouragement and mentoring of fellow leaders. The best example I’ve studied of how relationships lead to opportunity comes from Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich.

It’s the story of Edwin Barnes and how he wanted to work with Thomas Edison, not for him. He was so determined to do so, he gave up everything he had in order to make it happen. He demonstrated to Edison that he was worthy of trust and leadership. And after several years of hard work, Edison granted him the opportunity of a lifetime — leading a major segment of Edison’s business. One that made Barnes a millionaire.

You have to want it. And to be a transformational leader, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to build mutually beneficial relationships.

Closing

You’re a follower. That’s not a bad thing. So am I. That’s how we learn. Despite the fact Seth Godin doesn’t follow anyone other than “Medium Staff” on here (or on Twitter!), he’s a follower too. Yet no one wants to admit they’re a follower. Be a leader, too. I’m a leader. So are you, whether you realize it or not. Speak it over your life. Then, act like one.

Concern yourself with running your own race. There are a lot of people out there who are only in it for themselves. They’re playing the “Follower game.” They’re more concerned with their number of followers, not the value they deliver to them. That’s transactional. Be transformational! Be someone who gives greatness to the world.

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