Updated: May 10
“A bad system will beat a good person every time.” - Edwards Deming
Transformational leadership inspires people to achieve unexpected results.
Transformational leaders create positive changes in their people and organizations. Today, like never before, we need leaders who bring people together in times of change, uncertainty, and innovation. The organization that needs urgent transformational leadership is education. The education system needs a total transformation as countless students are systematically left behind, teachers are ill-prepared, and educational leaders operate within a framework that’s no longer relevant.
Last week I was invited to a Zoom webinar to speak about transformative leadership in education. I am passionate about both, education and leadership. I believe you cannot have the high-quality, equitable, and inclusive education our students deserve without transformational leaders who believe in their people and help them achieve their best version of themselves.
These are the key points I discussed on the webinar. My hope is that they will be helpful to you on your journey towards effective leadership:
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” - Aristotle
To lead with purpose and make the impact you know you could make, the first step is to know yourself.
Think about it. How can you lead and motivate people to follow you if you don’t know who you are?
It's time you find out.
Begin with exploring your values.
We are our values.
Plain and simple.
It is impossible to live up to your potential, achieve success, happiness, and health and make a transformational change in your people’s lives without first knowing and understanding your values.
If you are currently an educational leader this step is critical.
Because as educators, our primary responsibility is student success.
We are successful if our students succeed. If they fail we fail.
To help students achieve the success I know they are capable of you must become a transformational leader. The leader who motivates, inspires, and empowers students and everyone around to dream more, become more, do more.
You have a vision. A vision that's created with your students in mind. You and your students believe in it and take steps to bring it to life.
As a leader you won’s accept average or mediocre work or behavior from your students.
You have high expectations of yourself and everyone around you.
You are preparing future leaders ready to solve tomorrow's problems.
It’s impossible to accept anything below excellence because you walk the talk.
You are a role model everyone aspires to become.
You are the teacher your students will never forget.
“Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” – John D. Rockefeller
A transformational leader leads by example.
They walk the talk.
They know that challenges bring the best in people. It is how we become more resilient, courageous, and adaptable to change. These are also the skills we all need to thrive in the real world.
Some people don't believe they can achieve great things so they don't even try.
But as leaders we know the secret. The mindset holds the secret to the beginning of a transformational journey. I am referring to the fixed mindset vs. growth mindset that Dr. Dweck writes about in the book “Mindset”. IQ and genes do not determine what we can achieve. Instead, we achieve success with effort, persistence, habits, determination, outlook, and the right environments. We become capable by stretching our imagination and creativity and thinking and doing things we've never done before.
As a transformational leader and teacher educator for over ten years, I love to mentor and empower my students to never give up and to embrace personal development as a lifestyle. However, I often meet future teachers in my classes that have a fixed mindset. They lack confidence and self-efficacy. These teachers will soon have their classes full of students ready to become their best selves. Unfortunately, it will not happen because students can not achieve what their teachers do not believe.
However, I hope that a transformation school leader will provide for these new teachers the training, motivation, and mentorship they need to become transformational leaders. If our teachers are highly qualified, respected, heard, recognized for their hard work, compensated appropriately, then all their energy and enthusiasm will focus on achieving student success.
3. Leadership is a Journey
Transformational leaders are made not born.
Like anything worthwhile pursuing, it takes time, hard work, and practice.
An education degree is not enough to be an effective teacher. That’s called a "title teacher" meaning that you are a teacher because you’ve earned a degree with a major in education. It is also a level 1 leadership, read that- ineffective.
Can you imagine a doctor in the operating room after he graduates from medical school?
It takes about four-seven years of medical training and residency before he or she can practice medicine.
What if we can do the same for our teachers?
To be an effective teacher you need more than a degree. You need training, mentorship, and leadership that inspires and empowers you to become your best self every day.
4. Leadership Levels
Here are the 5 levels of leadership; Which level are you?
5. Characteristics of Transformational Leaders
Idealized Influence - Purpose-driven. Role model. Walk the talk
Inspirational & Motivational - Inspiring and empowering people
Individualized Consideration - People driven, genuine concern for needs of the people
Intellectually curious - Innovating, creative. Challenges people to dream big, take action and to not be afraid
Here we are reminded of the first step you’ve accomplished - to know yourself, know your values. Your purpose, motivation, and inspiration are embedded in your values. Your happiness, and meaning are embedded in your values and your beliefs system.
6. Transformational Leadership Traits
Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton
Leaders’ personality traits can be divided into two groups: general personality traits such as self-confidence and trustworthiness, and task-related traits, such as courage.
In an interview Warren Bennis asked transformational leaders if leaders are born or made. They all agreed that leaders are made not born, and made by themselves and not by any external means. He concluded that “ ...everyone, of whatever age and circumstance, is capable of self-transformation.”
In conclusion, a transformational leader is easy to spot. His or her team or students are happy, highly motivated, driven, and determined to achieve high results. By implementing these 6 steps framework you can raise your teachers' and students’ awareness of their values and goals and help to achieve them.
Life is a gift. Don't spend another day without knowing yourself and your values. Whether you are an educator or no you deserve to have meaning in your work and your life, goals and purpose, health to enjoy every moment, and people around you who believe in you and help you become your best self.
Be the teacher your students will never forget.
Be the leader your team will never forget
Together we can transform lives.