So You Want to be a Transformational Leader, Eh?

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect


Problem: Lots of people are so called transformation experts, yet have never intentionally led a real transformation. The academic models they espouse are often well founded and usually based on solid research. However, to actually lead in a transformative way, I believe you have to have felt and experienced the messiness of a major shift. To me, “transformation” involves the determined act of going from one state to a predefined, more desirable future state. In some ways, actual transformation is a paradox because while including definitive milestones, it has no real end. This is the premise of constant change being a law or truism in life. This blog includes the basic framework of what I’ve learned as a self-acclaimed, in the trenches, transformative leader. Today let’s also accept that the minimum competence of an effective transformational leader includes the combination of being a futurist, technologist, humanist and evangelist. With those characteristics as foundational, what framework makes the transformation journey successful?

Story: Over my 40-plus years in formal leadership, I’ve considered myself in the core business of leading transformation. This includes very large systems (an entire organization) or a more narrow initiative within. In all cases, I’ve applied the essence of the following model. Most recently in the role of Chief Evangelist, I was assigned the privilege of leading a company wide transition from Microsoft to Google’s G Suite. I had a phenomenal team around me, and the support of 5,000 people that helped make it happen. Google claims in very public ways that it was an enormous success. How did we do it? We followed three streams and applied four levers.

A framework you can apply too:

Three Connected Streams

 1.0 Ignite and Listen:

A. People need to emotionally understand the WHY behind the transformation.

B. People need to emotionally connect with the desired future state and really understand the value for them at a personal level.

C. The desired future state needs to be felt and described in a way that literally appeals to all the senses of ideally every impacted person.

D. Compassion and empathy for individual concerns is imperative.

2.0 Excite and Discover:

A. People need to begin expressing enthusiasm for the desired state.

B. Participants start to self identify with the new state and become very self-accountable for contributing to the transformation.

C. Individuals can safely play and experiment in the new way and confidence increases.

3.0 Adopt and Master:

A. The “student body” is leading the way and helping those at the back of the adoption line.

B. Masters of the new way start to emerge with many stories of success.

C. The overwhelming majority would never want to go back to the old way.

What are the four levers to help successfully apply this framework? Stay tuned for Friday’s blog.

Think Big, Start Small and Act Now!


One Millennial View: The value of frameworks are sometimes underappreciated, and this seems to be a great playbook for someone entering the world of transformational leadership. I look forward to learning the four levers.

– Garrett

Blog 972

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis