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Leading Change - Gratitude and Transformational Leadership

Oct 06, 2020

This year has thrown into a whole new perspective both our concept and understanding of leadership and change. Being a leader in times of change is no easy feat because change is not always the easiest of forces to deal with. How has your leadership style and abilities adapted to and evolved with the changing times of 2020? I’m going to share with you some interesting insights on the concept of leadership and the importance of gratitude to your leadership, specifically a type of leadership called “transformational leadership”.

Did you know that everyone has a slightly different idea of how to define leadership? Yes! One of my favourite podcasts is The Future of Work with Jacob Morgan. I highly recommend listening to this podcast if you are a leader of an organization. There are many great insights and discussions on leadership in this podcast as well as how the world of work is changing and how we can prepare for and embrace the future of work. In one episode Jacob spoke about how when he interviewed 140 of the world’s top CEOs for his book The Future Leader and asked them for their definition of a leader, he received a different definition from each one! He also brought up the critical point that your personal definition of leadership will also change as you move through your career. A particular change in my personal understanding of what it means to be a good leader this year is the importance of serving and supporting others and contributing as a leader in my company and for my industry. What is your personal definition of leadership? How have the events of 2020 shaped and changed what that might be? Jacob Morgan says that the first step to becoming a future ready leader is to take the time to define what leadership means to you! I encourage you to take time to reflect on your personal definition of leadership, write it down now, revisit it at the end of this year and continue to consider how your work, learning and career and life events impact the meaning you give to what good leadership looks like. When you have that definition of leadership ready, share it with others and make it part of your culture.

Transformational leadership is a particular style of leadership that I have researched and presented upon many times. With this style of leadership, leaders encourage those they lead towards embracing innovation and creating change to influence the future direction and success of their organizations. Important elements of transformational leadership include being visionary, a team-centric or community-minded approach, being inclusive and engaging as well as encouraging collaboration and a focus on a common goal.  Change is inevitable and fostering a culture and leadership practices that embrace innovation and work with change to proactively grow and evolve, rather than fighting against this, will be more sustainable and future-ready in the long-term.

There are a host of practices to serve and support you as a leader but one of the most important practices is gratitude. A study between gratitude and transformational leadership among university teachers found a positive relationship between these two constructs, which leads to conclusions that practicing gratitude can make you more efficient and effective as a leader. Everyone can benefit from a tangible gratitude practice, be it a gratitude journal, gratitude jar, taking time each day to share three things you are grateful for with your family. As leaders, and those who desire to be future-ready leaders, we especially need to make a gratitude practice an uncompromisable component of leadership and life. How can you find ways to be grateful? Start small and commit to one action daily – be it a journal, an app, a gratitude accountability partner (within your WIFA sisterhood perhaps)…. Build the habit and commit to sustaining this practice and you will experience positive changes. The more grateful you are, the more things you will realize you have to be grateful for and that will create greater MO’tivation for yourself to succeed in your leadership and lead the change you wish to see and create in the world.


Author: Maureen Hagan