Transformational Leadership

Its February already and what a great start to the year!


This editorial I want to share with you the 2015 report by PWC on identifying and retaining transformational leaders. I have spoken a lot about the need for leaders to “grow bigger brains” to deal with the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) challenges we face today. Disruptive changes are the new norm.  In this environment, business transformation is critical for ongoing sustainability and growth, but finding transformational leaders who can successfully navigate change is even more challenging and rare.  Successful change requires leaders with post conventional thinking, and in particular they need to be operating from the level of Strategist (transforming action-logic).  Recent research by Harthill Consulting (2015) indicated that less than 8% of leaders were operating at this stage of thinking, and have the necessary capabilities to lead complex change, which has major implications for organisations into the future.

Strategist leaders are able to see and make sense of complexity. They are able to reflect and learn from their experiences and see them as multifaceted.  They lead with inquiry rather than advocacy, with encouragement rather than command, and with a deeply held humility. They need less limelight because their ego enables them to facilitate opportunities for others to thrive.

The report highlighted 10 ways that organisations can change to create a flourishing environment to grow and retain transformational leaders:

  1. Distributed responsibility
  2. Pushing power downwards and outwards – creating a culture of self-management and openness.
  3. Honest about information
  4. Being conscious that one only ever has partial information, including one’s own opinions.
  5. An empowering collective
  6. Bringing together the organisational vision with key calls to action and embedding these as behavioural norms in the culture.
  7. Investing in transformational (strategist) professional development
  8. Most professional development is informative rather than transformative. Transforming PD supports people to develop to the transforming action-logic stage.
  9. Hiring for transformation
  10. Moving beyond psychometric testing to a values based cultural fit for recruitment.
  11. Openly addressing conflict and failure
  12. Creating a culture of experimentation which inevitably includes failure. Openly surfacing and addressing difficulties and tensions by speaking authentically and challenging issues.
  13. Bring your whole self to work
  14. Inviting the wider dimensions of people into the workplace and demonstrating care by providing life coaching, team development and child care etc.
  15. Collective strategy building
  16. Bringing together the wider team into strategy formation and execution.
  17. Prioritise staff reflection
  18. Supporting staff to undertake structured reflection and prioritisation on a regular basis – daily (10mins), weekly (1 hour), monthly (1 day), yearly (1 week).
  19. Senior leaders who are also transforming (strategists)
  20. Developing transforming employees requires transforming leaders who model these traits



If you would like a copy of this report please email me and I will send it to you. It is definitely worth a read!

Posted in On Leadership