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How Transformative Leadership Benefits Small Businesses

Small Business success is contingent upon confident and content employees. Creating them requires someone to lead the transformation.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Persistent worker shortages, low unemployment, and post-pandemic phenomena like quiet quitting are reshaping business. In the absence of leaders who acknowledge changing realities, small businesses will continue to lack the talent they need to succeed.

Great leaders encourage their employees to reach their potential, invest in the company's success, and stay around for the long term. There's no room for traditional rigidity here. Employees are thirsting for places where they can thrive, and such companies are guided by leaders who are transformational.

Transformative leadership certainly isn't a new concept. But the need for it has probably never been greater. Here's what transformative leaders do and the benefits being one can bring to your business:

They Motivate and Inspire

Transformative leaders inspire through their passion for the company and their confidence in their employees. Their optimism about what the business can become is contagious. Everyone wants to be a part of that vision.   

Of course, employees need to understand how their daily tasks contribute to that vision. That's why McChrystal Group encourages leaders to communicate openly and honestly about strategic alignment. When employees understand how what they do lines up the company's goals, they can put their energy into achieving them, freed from conflicting priorities.

A leader's unabated enthusiasm about building a successful company motivates employees to collaborate. Once they fully understand that the sum of the parts is the only way the whole can be great, they will be all in on making it happen.

They Fuel Thought

So many employees just show up and wait to be told what to do. If there's a problem, they hang back until someone gives them the solution. But with a transformative leader, team members know they are not only free but encouraged to think critically, challenge norms, and come up with creative solutions. In that environment, the role of every employee is elevated.

When I ordered food that our dog refused to eat from online pet supply retailer Chewy, the company told me to donate it to a pet shelter instead of returning it. Then they promised to send me something else. Chewy, like every other retailer, deals with processing returned products. But leaders there refused to accept the status quo, and the result was an innovative solution. That's transformational.

A transformative leader helps employees understand how to think outside the box by giving them fresh ideas, introducing uncommon concepts, and inviting them to take risks. They're more apt to ask questions than spout answers. And as employees are elevated in the process, they lift up customers with them.

They Take the High Road

In today's social and political climate, more business leaders seem to be out for themselves rather than their stakeholders. Not so with transformative leaders. Their actions are guided by sound ethics, solid morals, and a genuine desire to put others first.  

Let me tell you about Rusty. He owns an auto dealership where I took my damaged vehicle after I had some bad experiences with other shops. High inflation often seems to entice businesses to gouge their customers, just because they can. Rusty could have done that. Instead, he delivered excellent work and invoiced me less than the estimate. He took the high road and brought me along for the ride.

By exemplifying the best traits, transformative leaders earn trust, respect, and loyalty. When leaders have earned these, employees will work harder and be more willing to invest themselves in the business. And customers and clients will keep coming back.

They Invest in Employees

Transformative leaders encourage employees to invest in the business. But employees need to feel like the business is willing to invest in them in return. That requires finding out what's important in their lives, whether it's helping them pay off student debt or enabling them to spend more time with their kids. Transformative leaders take the time to discover what will elevate the life of each team member.

This doesn't have to be complicated. For example, at the end of last year, we surveyed our staff to ask what special activity they would enjoy. Many of them mentioned a spa day, so after a particularly busy period, we gave them one. It's not something we can or will do all the time. But after a blissed-out day at the historic Elms Hotel & Spa, they felt appreciated, seen, and heard.

Transformative leaders find ways to support the personal and professional lives of their team members. Not everything needs to be a performance metric. When employees feel supported, even on bad days, they will still be glad they are where they are.

Be Life-Changing

By reshaping your leadership approach into a transformational one, you raise the work of your employees and the experience of your customers. Don't worry if you aren't transformational yet. But take steps to emulate this leadership style, and you'll change your life and the lives of others who make your business a success.

Photo credit: Getty Images.

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