Transformational leadership is a big topic these days. Yet how do we define it? What makes a leader transformational? What are the qualities and characteristics of a transformational leader? Who do we need to be if we are going to do transformational work in today’s world of rapid change and evolution – if we are truly going to serve in dynamic and impactful ways?
As I sit with these questions, four “roles” or “identities” come to mind: Explorer, Seer, Ambassador, and Co-Creator.
Explorer – Today we are facing challenges and opportunities we have never met before. As Transformational Leaders, it is up to us and those we serve to find the way forward – to be willing to explore where others haven’t been – to walk into the unknown, trusting that each next step will reveal itself at the right time.
Being an explorer means approaching life and work from an attitude of discovery, letting what we find show itself to us on its own terms. Whether we are exploring a current circumstance or visioning the future, we are best served by an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to not have answers. When we are attached to having the answers, we will, consciously or unconsciously, endeavor to stay in known territory – in other words, in our comfort zone. Staying in known territory leads to re-creating some version of the past over and over again.
So as explorers, we have to be okay with not having answers. Our job is to encourage a culture of discovery, creativity, and innovation that is inspired and informed by what we find as we go along. The best possible future will show itself to us if we are willing to explore with an open mind and heart. Seasoned explorers know that “signs” will appear to show them where to go next. In the same way, the future also shows us each next step. We just have to learn how to notice the signals.
Seer – Veteran television journalist Bill Moyers once said that a visionary is not so much one who can see into the future, but rather one who can see deeply into the present. By this definition, a visionary is a seer – one who peers deeply into the moment to find the essence of what is happening or the greatest potential that is waiting to be discovered. A seer observes and explores with the intuitive mind, recognizing the intuitive mind as the larger mind, and the intellect as just one small part of that larger mind. The intuitive mind is our next great frontier, and we are just beginning to tap into the tremendous riches available to us. Transformational Leaders are seers. They peer deeply into the present moment and discover the potential that is waiting to unfold in service of all.
Ambassador – Transformational Leaders are ambassadors of the Greater Consciousness. We are hosts to those we serve, opening doors of awareness and inviting them into their next steps in expanded consciousness awareness. As Explorers and Seers, tapping into higher awareness and exploring quantum consciousness has become a way of life for us. Thinking intuitively has become our habit. And we help those we serve to find their way in this greatly expanded way of living and working.
Co-Creator – Transformational Leaders recognize that the universe is a matrix of relationships. Therefore, we are constantly in a co-creative process with the people around us, as well as with ideas, concepts, and potential. From a big-picture perspective, we are co-creating with the greatest future that is waiting to unfold. From a day-to-day perspective, we are co-creating with whatever is in front of us at the moment. We first ask, “What wants to happen?” As we sense the potential waiting to unfold, our next question is, “Who is that asking me to be?” and then finally, “What is it asking me to do?” When our “being” is aligned with the emerging potential, the next action steps become clear. This is co-creation in its highest form – listening to the potential and letting it show us how to manifest it.
Explorer, Seer, Ambassador, and Co-Creator. Embodying these identities is a process of “flowing with” instead of “pushing against.” Rather than viewing circumstances as problems to push against and solve, we tap into the essence of what is happening, look for the greatest potential waiting to emerge, partner with that potential, and flow with it as it starts to unfold. Transformational Leaders know and trust that the potential will show us the way forward.
Transformational Leadership takes practice. It requires focus, intention, and clarity of being. It’s all about how we show up. It’s all about Transformational Presence. And it is a life-long journey.
Alan Seale, PCC, CTPC is the author of Create A World That Works and the director of the Center for Transformational Presence. www.transformationalpresence.org
You make thousands of decisions every day. Some are simple, such as hitting snooze on the alarm clock or choosing what to eat for breakfast, while others – like deciding who to marry, or what career to pursue – require deep reflection, thought and analysis.
Each choice shapes what is to come in some small way, but occasionally, a decision has the magnitude to be life changing. This kind of moment can change who we are and what we value, with reverberations throughout our careers and personal lives.
What coping with cancer taught me about letting go
While it’s still up for debate exactly how much of our morality comes from personal experiences, many of us can think of at least one experience that has defined us and our beliefs.
Lain Hensley, chief operating officer at Odyssey Teams, recalls the fear and loneliness he felt when he was diagnosed with cancer, for example. His illness exposed weaknesses in his leadership and as a result, he writes, he has become “a better man, husband, father, employer, speaker and friend”.
Other influential moments can come down to a single conversation. After her boss, former Las Vegas mayor Jan Jones, pointed out in a speech at a gala that Gwen Migita was afraid that she wouldn’t be accepted if she was honest about her partner at work, she found the courage to be open about her sexuality. Migita went from hiding her real self at work to setting up the gaming industry’s first LGBT employee group and publicly marrying her partner.
Why I decided to be honest about being gay at work – after my boss outed me
Now it’s your turn
Tell us about a defining moment in your life. It can be an experience that shaped your values, a conversation that determined your career, an event that changed the course of your life or anything else that you believe has defined who you are.
Submit a short blog post of no more than 600 words describing the experience and how it has influenced you. Let us know if you’d like to submit audio or video by checking the appropriate box below.
Once you’ve sent us your story, we’ll get back to you and let you know if you’ve been selected for publication on the Guardian. We’re looking forward to hearing your stories!
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