Mark Cole: Transformational Leadership Applied

In his blog post this week, John Maxwell talked about transformational leadership. I love this topic. Helping others become transformational in their leadership lights a fire in me like nothing else does.

John is right in saying, “We need men and women who are committed to take action in order to make a difference in the world. We need transformational leaders.”

I wanted to respond to what John wrote because I believe this is one of the most important things we could be talking about as leaders. It is timely and it is necessary.

John taught us 5 characteristics all transformational leaders possess. How I apply each characteristic is by asking myself a question:

1. What or who is being overlooked?

I have come to realize that how I view things determines how I do things. Dave Ramsey said, “Organizations are not limited by their opportunity; they are limited by their leader.” This all begins with what the leader is able to see—because, as John said, transformational leaders see things others do not see.

In order to be a transformational leader, you must first begin viewing things through the lens of service. Start asking yourself, “How can I help more people?” and then a deeper question, “How can I help people more?” When you take the focus off yourself and place it on others, you are ready to be transformational.

2. What is being left unsaid that needs to be heard?

In John’s blog, he wrote about how transformational leaders say things others do not say. He then referenced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Imagine being in the crowd that day to witness one of the most pivotal speeches in the history of our country. Imagine being in MLK’s shoes on those steps delivering those groundbreaking words of unity. How would you have handled that opportunity?

Transformational leaders are willing to speak up when there is a better way. I have begun asking myself a question in team meetings: “Is there something that is not being said because no one is willing to say it?” And if so, “what are the consequences, both positive and negative, of speaking up about it?” If it is worth it, I always speak up.

3. Who needs to borrow my belief?

Believing that you can make a difference changes everything—but that is only the beginning. John says it best: “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.” It takes a team pushing forward together to achieve greatness.

Transformational leaders don’t just believe in themselves, they also inspire belief in their people. Transformational leaders believe things others don’t believe.And it makes all the difference.

Next time you have a team meeting, spend 10 minutes talking about the impact that your team is having on the lives of others. Don’t just highlight big victories; look for the small ones as well. As you honor the individuals on your team for making a difference through their work, your team’s commitment to the greater mission will increase dramatically.

4. Where am I finding my passion right now?

John wrote about the The John Maxwell Team coaches leading roundtables around the world and their passion for transformation. I will be with thousands of them this weekend for our International Maxwell Certification Event in Orlando and could not be more excited. I take every opportunity I can to be around these coaches because their passion is contagious.

When you are passionate about what you are doing, you will be willing to go the second mile. And when I am around these coaches and witness their passion for helping others, I can’t help but get excited about it as well. They are the perfect example of John’s teaching: these transformational leaders feel things others do not feel.

John teaches three questions that will help you discover what you are truly passionate about: 1) What makes you laugh? 2) What makes you cry? 3) What makes you sing? I ask myself these questions on a regular basis because it helps me realign my focus to what I am most passionate about.

5. Where can I make a difference?

When your sense of purpose is strong enough, it will propel you to do what others aren’t willing to do. The only questions a transformational leader needs to answer are, “What kind of difference can I make?” and “How big of a difference can it be?”

John says it this way, “I would rather try something big that is almost impossible than something small that won’t make a difference.”

I want to challenge you with this question—what is the most significant thing that you could do with your life? Once you have your answer, set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and make a plan to reach it, because transformational leaders do things others do not do.

What is stopping you from becoming a source of transformation in the world? John is right; the world is waiting for you. Now it’s your turn!

8 Comments

  1. Lillian Gitau on March 8, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you Mark. As always very insightful. Liked the statement “When you take the focus off yourself and place it on others, you are ready to be transformational”. How true in leadership and life in general. We become much more effective if we do not care who gets the credit.

  2. khaya booi on March 8, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you such a great lesson, mouthful and powerful

  3. NDOR kaadinebari McCoy on March 9, 2019 at 4:06 am

    This is awesome, amazing and wish I can some some videos

  4. Thomas Scott on March 12, 2019 at 5:18 am

    Good piece. Thank you.

  5. Cherie Lewis-Bell on March 12, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you again for a exceptional information on transformational leadership. I like the BHAG because it definitely gives you something to strive for!

  6. kansiime nicholas on March 16, 2019 at 10:05 am

    wonderful i hsve just been reading John Maxwells book “thinking for a change” how can i get more of his books easily here in Uganda.

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