The Pre-requisites of Transformative Leadership

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I get asked all the time about what is required to show up as a Transformative Leader. They are usually very good questions because of how deceptively simple they seem. Can anyone be a Transformative Leader? What kind of knowledge, skills, or experience do you need? Do you have to have people reporting to you? Do you need to be in a particular position? Do you have to have a supportive boss? What if your boss is not a Transformative Leader? Where do you start?

If you have ever pondered these questions, I applaud you. It means that you have an interest in taking your leadership effectiveness to the next level and you have been observing what might be standing in the way and wondering how you could get it out of the way. These questions make perfect starting points for your leadership journey, but can hold you back if you get stuck on them while searching to find the perfect answer or while waiting for your situation to change before you act. Remember, Transformative Leadership is all about you causing a change or transformation in your circumstances, not in the absence of uncertainty, but in spite of it. Any transformation worth pursuing involves uncertainty; if you know exactly what you’re going to do and how it’s going to be done, you’re in the business of change, not transformation. What changes the game is taking the initiative to turn those question marks into exclamation points. They acknowledge their doubts and fears and shortcomings and move forward anyway. Transformative Leaders may wish that their circumstances and the level of support they receive were more favorable, yet at the same time they embrace their current circumstances and start right where they are. 

So, if you have been wondering whether there are any pre-requisites for you to show up as a Transformative Leader—whether you’re required to wait until you have achieved a certain level of personal enlightenment or your circumstances have met a certain standard of favorability—my answer is “no.” There is no “you must be this smart/experienced/organized to ride”-sign when it comes to being able to cause a transformation; as long as you live and breathe, the power to cause and lead a transformation will always be available to you. The good news—and possibly the bad news—is that anyone can be and show up as a Transformative Leader in any situation, because deep down we are all Transformative Leaders whether we recognize it or not. This is good news because it means you are empowered right now, exactly the way you are, in whatever situation you are in. You’re not at the mercy of your circumstances or other people, and if you believe you are, it is only because you have powerfully led yourself to believe so. This is also possibly bad news if you have been looking for a foolproof excuse that would absolve you of the responsibilities of being a Transformative Leader in your life or workplace, and thus allow you to avoid doing what needs to be done. No such excuse exists. It never has and never will.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
— Henry Ford

So which is it? Are you empowered and interested in finding out more about how make things happen right here and now, or are you skeptical or even apprehensive? Either way, I hope you will give the rest of this post a chance to trigger a paradigm shift that will leave you inspired and get you in action—or at the very least make peace with your decision to not to do so.

While there are no pre-requisites to leadership, there are some fundamental ingredients that will make all the difference in how effective you are as a leader. Just so we are not discussing abstract concepts, I would encourage you to pick a specific area of your personal or professional life in which you would like to show up as a Transformative Leader and look for insights within that context.

Steps you can take right now:

  • Boldly declare the future you’re committed to creating, independent of today’s problems.

What is the desired future you envision? If you had no restraints in the present, what would that desired future look like? Get out of problem-solving mode for a few minutes and immerse yourself in what that future holds and what it feels like. Get in touch with why it is important to achieve this vision, in the grand scheme of things.

  • Accept full responsibility for making that future happen, even in the face of setbacks.

It is fine to have expectations of others to participate in the movement, as long as you remain 100% committed and in action, even when they fall off the wagon. Ultimately, however, what others do or do not do should not be used as an excuse for your actions or lack thereof.

  • Identify a few people you would like to have help you lead the effort, and energize them.

Engage them. Let them build on your ideas. Get them involved in generating ideas on how to overcome the barriers and how to accomplish the vision. Have them see what’s in it for them.

  • Create a strategic roadmap based on what you know today.

Identify the key milestones that must be reached to ensure that your designed future will come about. Get your partners involved and engage them in generating the ideas. Repeat this process periodically as you move forward, both to assess your progress and ensure that you will make more.

  • Get in action and stay in action with what you can do, no matter how small the steps may be.

Be okay with taking baby steps. As long as you’re moving, you will get to where you want to be. Go slowly if you need to. Just don’t stop!

  • When you come across a barrier, go back in your mind to dwell on your commitment and keep the faith.

The defining moments of your journey will come when you are disappointed and you begin to project negativity into the future. Reminding yourself of what’s possible and why what you’re doing is important will give you the inspiration to take the next step.

Congratulations! You are well on your way to being and showing up as a Transformative Leader. That is, when you start taking the steps above. Knowing them makes no difference; the key is actually taking the steps that are listed. If you are not willing to do so, then you are not ready to be a Transformative Leader. There is nothing wrong with that, but please understand that if you’re in your head about all the reasons you can’t do this stuff, you need to get out of your head and just start. You’ll generate energy and enthusiasm as you complete each step, but you have to hang in there if you want that energy to accumulate and build momentum.

If you are really hesitant, it is time for you to examine the payout that you associate with not being in action vs. the actual cost of your inaction. You may not be ready to be a Transformative Leader, but at least you can powerfully accept that that is a choice you made. It’s not because of your boss or the company or the government or your peers. If you are committed to an outcome and it is not yet achieved, you are simply more committed to a hidden unfulfilled commitment with which you nevertheless remain perfectly in alignment.

So what are you waiting for? Pick an area, declare yourself the leader, stop over-thinking and wishing for a different starting point and get going.

To help you plan and execute your transformation, I’d like to provide you with a complimentary copy of the Transformation Blueprint, which is one of the tools included in my book, The Transformative Leader. You may download the form and instructions by clicking here.


There are no pre-requisites for being and showing up as a Transformative Leader. Anyone can do it in any circumstance. It is the power of our resolve and the size of our commitment that makes a difference. Ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things when they take responsibility for adopting a certain mindset and remaining in action to pursue the transformative future they are committed to. If you're waiting for some conditions to be met or until you attain a certain level of skill or meet certain qualifications, know that you can declare yourself a Transformative Leader and get going right here and now, exactly the way you are.

About the Author
Amir Ghannad is an international keynote speaker, author of The Transformative Leader, leadership consultant, culture transformation champion, and founder of The Ghannad Group. He has made it his life's work to guide leaders and equip them with the tools, skills, and the mindset necessary to create extraordinary workplace cultures that deliver breakthrough results.
Download his free e-book, titled 5 Practical Steps to Make Your Culture Transformation Stick by clicking here.

As always, have a great week! May you Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary!

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