3 Transformational Leadership Traits

The road to transformational leadership is not as difficult as many suggest. For over 20 years, I have been directly involved in assessing, developing, and coaching leaders.  Over the years I have studied and reviewed literally hundreds of articles, books, and programs that claim to grow transformational leadership traits in the participants. Although some approaches are indeed strong, many (if not the vast majority) are overwhelmingly complicated, convoluted, overly scholastic, and utterly unrealistic in their desired or marketed outcomes.

At the risk of being perceived as boastful (Proverbs 27:2), one of my professional skills is to assess seemingly complicated or complex material and find simple ways to describe, discuss, and teach them.  I’ve done the same with the concept of the traits of transformational leaders.

Every reasonable and realistic approach I have assessed easily falls within my three major traits of transformational leaders. Here is an overview of my approach (model) toward developing transformational leadership traits in business professionals.  Each trait has a brief definition, the key question the leader must answer, and a short list of the essential skills associated with each trait.

Transformational Leadership Trait #1: Envision

To envision means to lead from strategy. The key question the transformational leader must answer is: “What’s Next?” To develop the transformational leadership trait of envisioning, a leader must be skilled in:

  • crystallizing a compelling vision of the future (visioning)
  • demonstrate strong analytic and creative problem solving (strategic thinking)
  • embrace innovative and creative approaches to systems improvement (process improving)
  • make sound decisions with good judgment (decision making)

Transformational Leadership Trait #2: Engage

To engage means to lead through people (not around or over). The key question the transformation leader must answer is: “Who must be involved?” To develop the transformational trait of engaging, a leader must be skilled in:

  • creating clear and powerful bonds with four major groups – Colleagues, Customers, Constituents, and the Community (connecting)
  • building strong cross-functional teams (team building)
  • modeling excellence in human relations and appropriate leadership behaviors (modeling)
  • equipping all employees (colleagues) to reach their potential (talent maximizing)

Transformational Leadership Trait #3: Execute

To execute means to lead for transformational results (those envisioned in trait #1 and lived through trait #2). The key question the transformational leader must answer is: “How will we measure progress?” To develop the transformational trait of executing, a leader must be skilled in:

  • effectively redirecting employees’ efforts (coaching)
  • leading transformational change (change managing)
  • driving projects to full completion (project managing)
  • personal and staff time management (time managing)

What’s Next? You Tell Me

So to practice what I preach, here is what I’ll do. I’ll let YOU determine WHICH of the three transformational leadership traits and/or skills and first expand upon for your edification (that’s a fancy way to say to help and teach you – sometimes my Ph.D. in Communication just bursts out – forgive me!). So which one of these three transformational leadership traits of the skills would you like me first to address in more detail?

I would LOVE to hear the ones most vital to you and why. Please leave your comments below and share you insights with others.