4 Elements Towards a Transformational Leadership
Giovanna D’Alessio, international expert in Leadership and facilitator of transformational initiatives in the corporate world, leads us to discover what does become and act as a transformational leader means giving us 4 elements to develop in our Leadership journey. A relevant post for all managers.
A transformational leader is one who develops awareness and takes responsibility both for their own awareness and for helping others to develop it. It’s one who has learnt to step back from their paradigms, observe them and call them into question to reformulate them. It’s one who guides their colleagues with the same love for development as a coach. A transformational leader is characterised by their intentions. They are aware of a problem and their ability to resolve it, and they are ready to act and be personally responsible for what they are aware of. So being transformational leaders means being fully aware of and responsible for the impact we have on the world and the impact the world has on us.
This leadership perspective requires the leader to significantly broaden their awareness in two directions: towards what the leader can have an impact on (their colleagues, their own company, community, or country; mankind and the planet) and towards what they are not (yet) familiar with, particularly what they don’t know about themselves. As Gary Zukav reminds us in his book The Seat of the Soul, “The parts of you that you’re not aware of will make choices on your behalf… you can’t consciously choose your intentions until you become aware of every different aspect of yourself”.
Transformational leaders know themselves and what is around them. And they are responsible for what they know and the relationships they create, from the relationship with their own colleagues to the relationship with the entire human race and our planet.
To develop this awareness, as Nick Ross suggests in his article Epoch of Transformation: An Interpersonal Leadership Model for the 21st Century, the leader must include four important elements in their development path:
The transactive element,which allows the leader to define goals and act in various ways so that colleagues meet these goals. This element includes, amongst others, strategic skills, goal management skills, colleague motivation skills and delegation skills. This is the most common element and often the only one considered in leadership pathways and philosophies.
The self-reflective element, to develop psychological maturity and harmonise the connection between internal experiences and the outside world, making it more aware. Self-reflection allows the leader to transfer the internal experience (emotions, thoughts, paradigms) from subject to object. When one is in a photo frame one can’t see what’s on the photo: this situation makes us the Subject and certain experiences are invisible to us. We can’t see and we can’t reflect on things of which we are the Subject and in which we therefore identify ourselves. There are parts of us of which we are the Subject, such as some of our emotions and our paradigms; we suppose they are the reality and we are not ready to bring them into question. On the other hand, things which for us are the Object are the opposite of the Subject. They are those elements we can reflect on, we can manage, observe, that we can recount, control, internalise, assimilate, for which we can be responsible or on which we can act. Coming out of the photo frame means reflecting on our own experiences, understanding the paradigms that have driven our lives and deciding if they still work or if they need changing.
The transcendent element, which involves the ability to go beyond the physical human experience and understand the world outside of the limits of our own personality. This element involves the ability to access awareness and information which don’t come from a linear analysis process but which are activated when our awareness expands. This element includes experiences of synchronicity, intuition, personal vitality, energy, of what is called “peak experience (1)”.
The “making a difference” element, which allows the leader to develop creative ideas with a long-term vision and which benefit the community, however large or small we want to consider this community. The leader shows in their life the vocation or “calling” which emerges from their soul. There is a transpersonal behaviour which wants to manifest itself through a contribution to offer to the world. This element is connected to the awareness of the unity of all things.
(1) Peak experience is a term coined by Abraham Maslow to describe those experiences of a transpersonal and ecstatic nature, in particular those related to harmonisation and interconnectedness, with a spiritual quality.