"There are two basic types of leadership. Transactional and transformational. Transactional leadership is the ability to direct people, manage resources, and get the job done. But transformational leadership, the most important form of leadership today, is the ability to motivate, inspire, and bring people together to higher levels of performance."
-- Brian Tracy, The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success
Transactional leadership is certainly difficult enough, and provides value. More than competence, it involves setting high goals and, through processes of efficiency, management and skills, achieving results.
But transformational leadership is much more. Ghandi, Churchill, JFK, Martin Luther King. These are classic individuals that we readily identify as tranformational leaders as they inspired us to do more and to be more. In the world of sports, it was said that San Francisco 49'ers quarterback Joe Montana was so special, some even believe the greatest football player of all-time (and the winner, I believe, of four Super Bowl championships), because he elevated the game of everyone around him. In high pressure moments he stayed very calm, focused and confident. His teammates in the huddle said it was infectious. He expected to win, and thus they came to as well. And they did.
Michael Jordan was an athlete of phenomenal physical gifts, accompanied by an inner will to drive himself and his teammates to incredible levels of performance. His team, the Chicago Bulls, an also-ran at the beginning of his career, won an amazing six NBA championships with Jordan leading the way (and in fact they may have won even more if he hadn't taken a break to quit basketball and take up baseball along the way).
What does it take to be a transformational leader? Would you like to become one? Maybe you are one already.
I certainly do not know all the answers about this area, but there are a few things that I do believe. Transformational leaders exude passion. This is not to be confused with negative qualities such as hyperactivity, restlessness, impulsivity, foolhardiness or bravado. I think of passion, instead, as a steely determination, a centeredness that does not allow one to be truly shaken or seriously altered from one's directions and plans.
Great transformational leaders also demonstrate remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness. They understand that the path to success is rarely a straight line. When A has stopped working, and also B and C and so on down the line, they long since have invented, adapted, adopted or borrowed a way to do what needs to be done.
Not all of us are called in this lifetime to be heads of state (it'd be pretty crowded if we were). Some of us can be transformational leaders as parents, as friends, as spouses, in our careers, or in so many other ways.
Anyone who has developed their capabilities to a high level is more able to transform themselves and have others perhaps willing to be transformed.
Transformational leadership, like all successes, is a piece by piece, day by day, moment by moment journey that we all can take.
Coming full circle:
"Brian Tracy started at the bottom and worked his way up, one step at a time...He began his adult life uneducated, unskilled, and unemployed, living in his car and working at odd jobs as they came along...Today Brian Tracy is one of the top business consultants in the United States and one of the most popular professional speakers in the world...He speaks to more than 300,000 people each year...has written ten books, some of which have been translated into twelve languages...he has traveled and worked in eighty countries in five continents."
-- From Brian Tracy, The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success (About the Author Section)
Alex Hammer in 2006 was an Independent candidate for Governor of Maine, www.hammer2006.politicalgateway.com