For 30 years, my colleague, Dr. Jim Harris, has spoken around the world on leadership and professional excellence. In this post, he shares three truths every leader ought to know before attempting to transform their organizations.
There is an old country song that goes, “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.” That’s exactly what I have found to be true with leadership who desire to transform their organization – they are looking in the wrong places.
So many leaders inadvertently begin their organizational transformations in the wrong place. They fail to grasp that the place they must begin is within themselves. They need to understand where organizational transformation really begins and their role in it.
Here are the 3 absolute truths on transformational leadership.
Truth #1 – Organizations do not transform themselves.
Organizations are not breathing organisms but simply structures, systems, and places where business is conducted. They are by themselves incapable of transformation. The only way they can be transformed, then, are through the living, breathing organisms that create the structures, systems, and places.
So often over my now 30+ years in business (wow, it really HAS been that long), I have heard front-line managers to business gurus talk about organizational transformation as if the inanimate objects around the firm were responsible for the transformation. Not!
No company structure or system or place can transform itself, which inevitably leads to the second inescapable truth on transformational leadership.
Truth #2 – Leaders transform their organizations.
The women and men who form, organize, and create the organization are the only ones who can totally transform it.
Outside influences (markets, people, competitors) can have,…well… influence on a company’s potential transformation. But the leaders within those firms can and often ignore those outside influences (Think Palm, Eckerd Drugs, Bethlehem Steel and dozens more).
Yet I have learned that real leadership transformation does not occur (and particularly does not last) from outside the company factors. If leaders do decide to shift, modify, or even radically redesign their firms around some outside influence, the lasting effects are often short-lived especially if the leader does not recognize her/his need to transform themselves as well.
Which leads then to the third truth on leadership transformation.
Truth #3 – Leadership Transformation Begins from the Inside-Out
Lasting transformation is only accomplished from the inside-out. It begins within the leader’s heart and soul, then moves outward into the company and its people. Without starting here, leaders simply modify peripheral conditions to the whims of their business goals and rarely achieve the long-term return for their efforts they desire.
I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Harris. Truths like these from his ebook, The Impacter (download your free copy here), will help you learn why leadership character is your greatest competitive advantage. That’s something leaders ought to know!
Phillip Van Hooser
Leadership Expert, Keynote Speaker
Author of Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership