Are You A Transformational Leader? Part 1

Contributed by CEO Coach Henna Inam

Are you achieving success in your career but still feel like you are not making the impact you have the potential to make? Are you successful but not deeply fulfilled by the work you do?

McKinsey research from the Centered Leadership Project shows that, for women in particular, a key component of success is the ability to make a contribution. There are a lot of women I meet in my Executive Coaching practice who have a deep desire to succeed but also leave a legacy that is bigger than their achievements.

If you are one of these women, you have the potential to be a transformational leader in your organization. And you are deeply needed right now. As a transformational leader you see opportunity for impact all around you. Your goal is to help create great change and build and nurture great leaders. You want to engage and inspire rather than just form transactional relationships with others. As a transformational leader you are able to tap into the discretionary energy, the full creativity and potential within you and within the people around you.

A lot of research has been done about transformational leaders and Bernard Bass’ work is among the most noteworthy. Paraphrasing some of his findings, here are four leadership behaviors you will recognize in yourself and others who are transformational leaders.

1. Purpose-Driven. You motivate and inspire people with the strong sense of purpose you bring to the task at hand. You articulate a vision that connects the purpose of the organization to that of the people you lead. You have strong communication skills that engage people in the vision so that followers are willing to invest more discretionary effort in the work, are deeply engaged, no matter how challenging the task at hand.
2. Person-Driven. You understand that each person is unique and play the role of mentor and coach to the people around you. You are empathetic and support the individual contributions of team members while at the same time challenging them to high standards. You understand the intrinsic motivations of others. This requires strong emotional intelligence.
3. Innovating. You are a change agent and encourage others to be the same. As you drive change, you provide intellectual stimulation, by encouraging curiosity, discovery, dialogue and debate so the best ideas can emerge. In the process, your people bring their full creativity and engagement to the process. You nurture and develop people who think independently and encourage risk taking and learning in the organization.
4. Inspiring. You instill trust. You role model integrity and ethical behavior. People understand your values and you walk the talk.

Ask yourself, which of the behaviors above do you exhibit most frequently and how you can start bringing more of these behaviors to your work and community activities.

The key questions you want to ask yourself are the following:

1. Am I clear on my own purpose?
How is this purpose linked to that of my organization and the work that I am doing? Am I clearly articulating this purpose and this linkage with the people I work with?
2. Am I clear on what drives each of the people I work with closely? How can I get better clarity on this? Am I helping them to link their goals and mission with that of the organization?
3. What is my impact on others? How do they feel about themselves after an interaction with me?
4. What are the opportunities for significant impact that I can make in my organization? With my clients/customers? How will my organization/team be better because of my contribution?
5. What are my core values? Do I exhibit these core values in the actions I take? What would my co-workers tell me about my core values based on their observations of my actions?

The good news is that these leadership behaviors can be learned. Everyone has the potential to be a transformational leader. You just need to make the decision to do so. Will you?

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series about why women have great potential to be transformational leaders in their organizations and communities.

Henna Inam is a CEO Coach focused helping women become transformational leaders. A Wharton MBA, and former C-Suite executive with Novartis and P&G, her passion is to engage, empower, and energize women leaders to transform themselves and their businesses. Sign up for her blog at