Can I be a transformational leader?
Is thinking about such a possibility even in the realm of reality? Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Steve Jobs, they were transformational leaders.
By comparison, my rational mind responds: “No, you have zero chance of this happening, don’t even waste your time thinking about it. There are so many good things you can do; urgent, real, tangible problems you can solve and have a great positive impact; just do that.”
That is the easy way out.
The hard way is staring at the transformational leadership slide and its factors, remembering the discussion we had in the HSC fellow session, honestly trying to keep an open mind, understand and learn, while fighting an inner voice telling me “it is in fact a good thing that you do not have a big ego or illusions of grandeur”.
Yet, there must be something I need to learn from this… And so, the battle between my high-held value of humility and the image of larger than life transformational leader that changes the world, the one Jonathan Silk keeps saying we are in desperate need for, continues.
My Eureka moment finally arrives when I internalize the definition on that slide and the factors that support it. It is not about the leader, it is about leadership, the process, the relationship.
Oh, how much meaning, clarity and beauty exist in these four letters.
I do not need to be a famous leader and my dream does not need to be having my name in history books. It is about what I believe, how I behave and what others experience under my leadership.
Three factors of transformational leadership resonate particularly with my values and drive specific actions:
- Individualized Consideration: I believe that everyone brings something unique to the table. Since I have experienced transformational leadership in my own journey, it is my turn now to listen, observe and identify other individuals’ gifts. Then, I strive to create the environment that fosters their development by providing a balance of support and challenges tailored to their individual goals and needs.
- Intellectual Stimulation: I believe people are smart and will figure it out. I see my role as a provider of resources, and I ask many questions. Learning how to ask insightful and interesting questions that make people think without putting them on the defensive is a practice I use.
- Inspirational Motivation: I believe we can achieve great things. My greatest privilege and satisfaction is seeing people rise to their full potential while achieving goals we set as a team. I leverage the interpersonal relationships we have in our team to highlight the potential and drive passion. We are inspired repeatedly when people find their own passion-being for teaching, research, clinical care or service.
The answer to my initial question:
I can exercise transformational leadership. Even better, I can learn, grow, stretch myself and pour myself in others in this process of transformation. Investing in others, stimulating their talents, empowering them, inspiring them to dream and reach higher than they have thought possible. It is the type of leadership I dream those who work with me will experience every day.
As Antoine de St. Exupery said “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Interim Dean, School of Health Professions
2017 HSC Fellows Candidate