Are transformational leaders born or made? The debate on this matter is as old as civilisation itself.
People have to realise that everyone is born with a unique mix of the same basic ingredients, and these very ingredients are either shaped into transformational leadership by others or by the leader himself. Only when individuals wake up to this reality, does the process of creating transformational leadership begin.
For the river of transformational leadership to run its full course, it has to go through the following three stages - primary, secondary and tertiary transformation leadership.
1. Leading oneself
The first, primary transformational leadership, is a "you and only you" phenomenon. It does not involve anyone and is not circumstantial.
Primary transformational leadership starts with you being principled and doing what is best, over the long term, for society as a whole. It calls for a proactive approach to problem-solving, where others are waiting for solutions to be laid out for them.
Also, it requires patience to allow things to fall into place, without any loss of a steely determination to ensure a profitable outcome. It enables you to continuously advance your level of performance and lead as a shining example.
The product of the above six Ps culminates into the seventh - peace. This is how you will feel when you possess the knowledge that you are on the right track.
2. Leading others
Secondary transformational leadership is a "you and others" phenomenon. It is a step outside your world into the world of another. And since it involves other human beings, secondary transformational leadership is about assisting other people to win first. This is diametrically opposite to manipulative leadership, which is of a more self-serving nature.
As a secondary transformational leader, you have to raise the awareness of those you have been chosen to lead. You have to know the personalities of those you are leading and help to polish them to brilliance.
You must be clear about what the objectives are and align targets. You need to create opportunities for others to win and build a great team environment. You need to know how to coach people while they are at their tasks. Apart from focusing on growing the best mindsets, you should also develop the best competencies possible.
Before you can build a solid secondary transformational leadership, you need to establish a firm foundation of primary transformational leadership. Clearly, you cannot truly lead another human being effectively until you learn to lead yourself.
3. Leading other leaders
If primary and secondary transformational leadership have been well honed in an individual, this will naturally progress to tertiary transformational leadership, which is about "leading other leaders".
Having taken on the mantle to lead your peers and even superiors, you must keep in mind the lessons of primary and secondary transformational leadership and be of service to other leaders.
A spirit of service will automatically tear down fences and open doors for mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships. This takes a great deal of maturity and foresight and is often referred to as vision.
The higher you rise in the corporate world, the more your values will be challenged and the more your fortitude will be needed to uphold them. A firm spiritual centre never hurts any great leader and a brilliant tertiary transformational leader would do well to acquire it.
Ultimately, tertiary transformational leadership becomes less about being actively involved in operational activities and more about being a source of inspiration and wisdom.