Transformational Leadership

Three times in my career I’ve been asked to serve on senior leadership teams responsible for the successful transformation of failing organizations. I often speak on transformational leadership.

Here’s the test for success: when a leader who was hired to transform a deeply dysfunctional organization departs, if the same team and culture are still firmly in place, you failed. You are not a transformational leader. When Lee Iacocca left Chrysler, it went back to being the old failing Chrysler again despite some short term gains.

Transformational leaders forever change the leaders, team, culture, hiring, systems, and results that an organization has and achieves. You can walk through it 30 years after that leader leaves and it’s still a high performing organization with the right leaders, team, and culture.

It’s easy to inherit a sound organization and lead it in good times. It’s no real work to be a status quo leader. Even incremental improvement is fairly easy. Transformational leadership is the true test and it’s why there are so few who can do it.


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training.


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