7 Virtues of Transformational Leadership – What does it take?

Transforming Successfully – needs vision, risk-taking, leadership and innovation!

Let me compare an organization undertaking transformation to a the making of a butterfly.

There are a million things that can go wrong when a caterpillar tries to metamorphosize into a butterfly. Predators, weather, diet, time, evolution, growth, body structure – anything can go wrong. Yet, the caterpillar feeds itself well, locates an ideal position that its brain can fathom, becomes a pupa and slowly, but steadily transforms into its best form. Struggle, risk and change are a part of the game, but the vision and persistence ensures the transformation.

Organizations are no different. The challenges are real, so are the risks and the countless things that could go wrong with transformations. Able leadership, vision and discipline see it through.

From my experience, directing and driving transformations and having worked within some really awesome senior management folks across countries and domains, here are 7 traits that I have observed are key indicators of a leader’s ability to make change happen:

  1. They do not take No for an answer. There has to be a way and that has to be found.
  2. They take calculated risks. An understanding of the cost and payoffs is performed before embarking on an ambitious project or action.
  3. Decision Making is fast. Get the needed folks into the room, layout the problem and walkout with the decision.
  4. They focus on the culture first. The biggest challenge in a transformation is the culture. When you have an organization that is ready to change, the job is half done.
  5. Clarity, Clarity, Clarity: From the sponsor time the youngest developer in the organization, everyone is aware of what’s happening and what’s expected of them.
  6. Not afraid to fail: Be it testing a new technology option or putting in place a new process, they go ahead and give it a try
  7. Know enough to ask the right questions: They do not take the solutions or approaches suggested at face value. They question, and these questions are deep and thought-provoking.

My last transformation was for a well-known Indian lifestyle giant.

The Chief Digital Officer would not only attend my presentations and status meetings but would take note of every action, and follow through from his side on the important ones. Leading by example – Truly amazing memory and dedication!