Read the passage carefully and answer the questions that follow.
Transformational leadership is the buzzword in business. Likewise, in the political sphere, this term has been widely debated ever since the emergence of Barack Obama, the president of the United States on a platform of change in governance. The current popularity of the term underscores a worldwide yearning for reform. There is a visionary ring to it. It conveys a passionate commitment and inspires hope because it implies a way to achieve a positive mind-changing and life-changing future.
Stripped of all the hype, transformational leadership means strong and focused leadership that is outcome-driven and seeks to produce results. To succeed, a transformational leader would need to acquire certain skills. He must have the ability to lead and motivate people. He should also be inclusive in his thinking and approach to enable him to get the right talents on board the team. In addition, he has to be able to articulate his vision well and to make complex or even radical concepts simple and obvious so that he will be able to convince people to embrace his ideas and follow his lead. Empowering, inspiring, visionary, team builder and team player, communicator par excellence - a transformational leader has all these qualities.
In the world of business, however, the individual quality of charisma and the ability to devise skilful strategies are not enough to achieve great success. A good leader has to know how to transform the whole company in order to deal with competition from around the world. He has to be able to transform his products and services so that they will continue to be in demand locally and globally. He will also have to be able to defend, expand and open new markets for his organisation.
Transformational leadership in the business environment is thus, more about productive, well-directed leadership and less about charismatic leadership. Transformation in a company can only happen if the leader succeeds in building a cohesive team that shares a common objective. When minds and visions merge, the way things are done will change. The results produced by the company will change. This is what is meant by transformation. When transformation takes place, the style of leadership usually changes and the transformational leader will no longer be managing but actively leading his team.
According to Dale Carnegie, transformational leaders are people who think out of the box and who are prepared to challenge the norm and rearrange the rules if the rules have become obstacles. They are always thinking about changing for the better and always seeking better and more practical solutions and options. These leaders have the right mindsets which are focused on moving forward.
In Malaysia, if leaders in the corporate sector keep doing things the same way over long periods of time, they will, as business people, be out of step and out of touch with what is happening around them. Other new economies are making quantum leaps that are astonishing in their inventiveness and challenging in their competitiveness. The economic divide between countries that are transformed and countries that are not is widening. Countries which have transformed, are for instance, Singapore and Bali. It has once been said that Singapore was at a disadvantage as it was devoid of natural resources and that its government was too conservative. Yet, it has developed into one of the most modern and wealthy economies in the world. Bali is another resource-poor island that stands out as the product of transformational leadership. It does not have the best beaches in the world nor the most comfortable hotels. However, it consistently gets voted as one of the best holiday islands by building its marketing strategy on its rich art and cultural heritage.
Malaysia has more natural resources than Singapore and Bali. What we need is to have more transformational leaders to turn the resources into wealth. This would mean building an ecosystem that produces transformational leaders at all levels, in schools and boardrooms, in factories and government ministries, in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and government-linked companies.
Retrieved and adapted from ‘We Need More Transformational Leaders’,