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Transformational Leaders | part 1

When I wrote a blog on March 6, 2013, on authentic leadership, I noted that for me, there is distinction between an “authentic leader” and a “transformed” authentic leader (click here). Further, I said this about the distinction:

A leader can be highly authentic – that is, truly him-or herself, honest, and of high integrity – and not be “transformative.” To be “transformative” as a leader requires that the leader, him- or herself, be transformed. By transformed, I mean that he or she is truly moving beyond reactivity associated with our type and being increasingly in the state of the “holy idea” (higher belief) and the virtue (higher emotional pattern).

And then I said I’d write a blog on “transformed” authentic leaders, and so this is my first in a series, a topical overview blog.

First, upon re-reading the above comment from the prior blog I think I misspoke. Although there is a big difference between an “authentic” leader and a “transformed” authentic leader, I actually think there is rarely, if ever, a “transformed” authentic leader. More accurate would be to say a “personally transforming” and an “organizationally transformative” leader.

This language occurred to me when I made a list of amazing leaders of each Enneagram type whom I consider to be transformative and reflected on what they had in common. They were different types and different subtypes, although a few more social subtypes than self-preserving or one-to-one subtypes. They were different genders, races, ages, and nationalities.

Accurate self-definition
But what they had in common stood out. None of them would ever refer to themselves as “transformed,” even though from the outside looking in, they might appear so. They would, each and every one of them, either laugh or be embarrassed, but both reactions would come from the same source. These leaders perceive themselves as “works in progress,” and are fully aware of their strengths and just as cognizant of their growth areas. For these leaders, it doesn’t matter how great people say they are because their own self-awareness is sufficiently expanded and strong enough that for them, others’ perception is simply feedback that may or may not be accurate. Their egos are simply well grounded, balanced, and open enough to discern that which is true from that which is projection.

Humility is key
Another reason for the laughter and/or embarrassment is these leaders are actually truly humble. Minus the grandiosity that can come so easily to those who have not done their psychological work but rise to positions of influence, power, status, and impact, these “personally transforming” leaders are in the process of continuous self-development and increased consciousness, even if they wouldn’t call their development work by those names. That’s why the word “transforming” is so much more accurate than “transformed.”

Solid and flexible simultaneously
Finally, all the leaders I know who are both ”transforming” and “transformative” actually use assets from their wings and arrows fluidly and at uncannily optimal moments. At the same time, they are rooted in the higher qualities that go with their own enneatype, while continuously working the areas that crop up indicated more development work needs doing. While there may be a momentary, “Oh, no, I thought I was done with working on that,” it is soon followed by an “OK, I still have work to do.”

The remaining blogs in this series will each cover a “personally transforming” leader who is also “organizationally transforming.”

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