In today’s world of change happening at warp speed, I believe that visionary leadership and transformational leadership are really one in the same. Great leaders of today must be able to lead in the moment, with the tools available to them, yet be prepared that the norms of today will become the relics of tomorrow. I don’t even just mean the physical tools we use, rather such fundamental items as the way we communicate with each other.
I found a tremendous video that illustrates transformational leadership in a way that is both comical and accurate.
Even though he is 72 years old and not in the profession of education I have a great admiration for the leadership style and forward-looking vision of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Last summer I read Gates’ biography and was taken by his ability to understand HOW to motivate people in today’s chaotic world. He was able to articulate how he actively sought to take an informed middle-ground position on the issues he faced, while working behind the scenes to develop consensus on ideas he felt would move the Department of Defense into the modern era and beyond. He wanted to move the Department towards the “wars of tomorrow”. This would mean less focus on “purchasing objects of war” and more training on how to fight asymmetrical war.
Many long-time DOD employees resented Gates shift in priority, but he was able to convince many to “prepare for the moment and plan for the future”.
Gates explained his approach very clearly below…..
“The leadership challenges are very similar in the public and private sectors when you’re aiming at transformational change,” Dr. Gates says. “People, for the most part, are comfortable with the status quo. That affects every organization. And any time you have a leader who believes change is necessary, that leader is going to have to deal with tremendous inertia, with tremendous resistance to change.”
Yet Gates overcame this “inertia” and our nation will be the better for it in the future.