Today, effective managers have the traits of transformational leaders, able to engage and inspire their team to invest discretionary effort in the pursuit of challenging objectives and in the face of tremendous change. Transformational leaders distinguish themselves by making the following ten activities a priority in their leadership agenda:

  1. Scan the environment for threats and opportunities. Transformational leaders are always one step ahead of the competition.

  2. Initiate change. They’re never comfortable with the status quo. They understand that the only constant currency is change and the complacency kills.

  3. Engage with their stakeholders to understand their needs and concerns. They believe in the axiom “people don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care”.  Keeping a finger on the pulse assures them that their vision and strategy are grounded in reality.

  4. Create clear, simple and memorable vision statements that inspire the spirit. Examples include “human-error free manufacturing” (semiconductor organisation), “a just world free of poverty” (Oxfam) and “crush Adidas” (Nike’s 1960 vision).

  5. Design creative ways and use transformative language to communicate a vision that tugs at the heartstring at every opportunity.

  6. Relentlessly challenge their team to overcome challenges, demonstrating a “can do” mindset.

  7. Identify and break down obstacles that stand in the way.

  8. Observe, communicate and celebrate wins, using every opportunity to create a positive environment and to strengthen beliefs that the team are “winners”.

  9. Are always learning. Transformational leaders know that they do not have all the answers. They’re not shy about climbing on the shoulders of giants, learning from the best and tapping into the expertise and energy of others who are proven in their field of expertise.

  10. Demand that their people are always seeking to be better. They have healthy beliefs about failure and adopt the dogma that “there is no failure, only the failure to learn”. To them, winning is first and foremost about the pursuit of perfection.