Do I Have What it Takes to be a Transformational Leader?

Author By Jim Lara

In a recent post from Gray Stone Advisors, we discussed Transformational Leadership and the competencies required to become a transformational leader.

One thing is for sure: Transformational Leaders get things done behind the scenes and with very little motion. Other characteristics include:

  • Encouraging their Team to ‘run with the ball’ vs. doing the work themselves.
  • Motivating the Team through empowerment and the open sharing of information.
  • Providing a clear picture of the future and helping all Team members find their roles in achieving it.

This quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu best articulates the role of a leader:

“The superior leader gets things done with very little motion.  He imparts instruction not through many words but through a few deeds.  He keeps informed about everything, but interferes hardly at all.  He is a catalyst and though things would not get done well if he weren’t there, when they succeed, he takes no credit.  And because he takes no credit, credit never leaves him.”

Are you ready to transition from being an individual contributor or a manager who is a doer to a Transformational Leader? If you’re at the point in your career where you need to make the decision of which way to go, make it carefully.

After all,leadership is a career choice—not just a means to higher compensation or grade level.

Making the Leap to Leadership

Want to make the leap to leadership? Is the leadership track really best for you? The first step is to get to know the real you. Now it’s time to get honest with yourself.

Let’s find out if you have what it takes!

Below are 20 questions that can serve as a checklist to see if you’re ready to become a transitional leader.

Note: If you’re not already doing certain of these things in your current role, ask yourself if you’d enjoy doing them in your future role.

  1. Am I clear on where my passions and interests lie?  Do they really lie in leading?
  2. Which jobs are my most enjoyable jobs and why?
  3. Can I let go of doing and focus on leading and empowering others?
  4. Do I truly let everyone on my Team ‘own’ his or her work processes?
  5. Are my Team members training to improve performance in their current jobs and developing themselves for their next career opportunity?
  6. Do I understand the difference between ‘fit’ vs.’fitness’ as it relates to job performance?
  7. Is my Team diverse among gender, age, ethnicity and race? Do I understand that ‘difference is power’ and ‘sameness suppresses’ a work group’s performance?
  8. Will I support Individual Developmental Planning for all of my Team members?
  9. Have I created succession plans for key roles that report to me and for my role?
  10. Do I encourage entrepreneurial creativity?
  11. How do I inspire others to perform at higher levels?
  12. What is my system to identify ‘high potential’ Team members?
  13. Have I connected my Team members’ interests with the organization’s goals and business objectives
  14. Do I encourage reasonable risk taking?
  15. Is business ‘fun’ for my Team?
  16. Am I a good coach/mentor?
  17. How do I motivate, inspire and energize my Team members to perform?
  18. In what ways do I encourage and promote teamwork?
  19. Am I excited to strategize and innovative or would I rather be ‘doing’?
  20. Have I developed my own personal Board of Advisors to help me with perspective, vision and wisdom?

Okay. So how did you do?

If you get excited about at least half of the above questions and can give real, concrete examples of how you’ve done these kinds of things, then it’s likely that leadership may be a viable career path for you.

But, what if you’re still unsure?

Want Even More Self-Awareness?

To gain further awareness, we recommend the following 3 steps:

1. Use a self-assessment tool

The one that we use here at Gray Stone is The Birkman Method®. We like this tool because it’s the only instrument out there that provides a multi-dimensional view into all the components you need for personal and professional development: 

Usual Behavior Style – How do you ‘show-up’ in your interactions each day? This awareness helps you better adopt the persona of a leader.

Needs – What do you need coming back at you in your personal and professional interactions? This knowledge helps you mitigate the effects of workplace stress.

Stress Behaviors – How do you act (or react) when your needs are not met? In many cases, this is totally different behavior than your Usual Style. To be an effective leader, you need to project an aura of calm and decisiveness when under stress.

Interests – Where do your passions and interests lie? This is a key indicator of your motivators and they provide valuable insight to your leadership potential.


2. Request a 360 assessment

This is a way to gather honest feedback from your peers, management, employees and others(e.g., those who you work with or interface with regularly). This tool will help you understand how different levels within your organization view you in your current role, and what you might need to work on to assume a future role in leadership.


3. Work with a coach or a mentor

A great time to do this is once you’ve completed a self-assessment instrument like the Birkman. Ask them to help you understand where you fit—as an individual contributor, a manager or as a leader?

Discover if the fit is right and if you’re leveraging your strengths. You might also want to read: How to Find an Executive Mentor.

Next Step

Becoming a Transformational Leader can be hard work. Why? Because it involves dealing with people. Sure. You are still accountable for results, but as a leader you need to get them in an entirely different way than you did as an individual contributor.

Being an effective leader means that you need to spend a significant time helping your Team members by being a good coach, motivator and strategic planner.

Are you willing to make the leadership commitment? Do you have what it takes?

If you’d like to take The Birkman Method® self-assessment, we can help! We act as coaches to many professionals in business aviation. Therefore, we invite you to contact us to administer The Birkman Method® and provide coaching. Whether it be an introductory session or a more extensive process of self-examination, we are ready to assist you.