How to be a transformational leader

By Tom Borg

The other day I was having a conversation with one of my clients about the importance of developing his team. He shared with me that his people’s wellbeing was important to him. As the conversation unfolded, and through the examples he gave, it became quite clear to me that this business owner really cared about his managers and employees. He was indeed a transformational leader.

How about you? Are you a green industry transformational leader?

According to the leadership expert Dr. Nido Qubein, “A transformational leader is someone who really cares about the people working for him or her.”

Transformational leaders help develop a person as a human being for that individual’s own good.

You see, a transformational leader understands that in order to grow his company, he must first develop his people. Dr. Qubein goes on to add that in order for your team members to be at their full potential, you must be able to influence their:


In order for all of this to happen, you must be able to connect with that employee on a deeper level, not just as an employee, but as a real human being.

Put another way, people do things for their own reasons, not yours. To influence them to support the mission of your company, you must understand their personal value systems and how they relate to the roles they play in your company. This is the real key to being able to influence them in a positive and productive manner.

Let’s take a look at how this whole process fits together. In order to get the results you want from that employee, it is critical that you first understand how that person thinks. What are his or her values and beliefs? How does that person look at the world, and how does he or she fit into it?

Once you understand more about that employee’s belief system, you can do a better job of being able to predict his or her day-to-day behaviors. These behaviors have bearing on their performance or the results they produce on the job.

One of the ways you can begin this process of identifying and understanding the beliefs of your team member is by taking a sincere interest in him and getting to know the individual as a person. Spend time with that employee. Ask the employee questions about what is important to him. Ask questions about the person’s family and hobbies. Ask about his first job experiences, and what lessons he learned from them.

Ask the individual how he sees himself in his role as an employee or supervisor for your company. What does it mean to that employee or supervisor to serve customers or another team member?

Does that person believe in going the extra mile for others? What are some examples of where he’s done that?

To get to know and understand your people, spend quality time with them in unique or different ways. Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:

• occasionally take them out to lunch or breakfast;

• invite them to your home for dinner and to meet your family;

• take them to a ball game;

• have them go along with you as you pay visits to some of your clients and customers;

• take them golfing;

• have them join you as you spend time volunteering at a soup kitchen;

• take them to your kid’s little league baseball practice, and have them help you coach the players;

• ask for their input on a business challenge you are facing;

• ask them for some coaching tips on using your iPhone; and

• talk to them about your own hobbies and what you like about pursuing them. The next step is to discuss how their belief system supports your company’s mission and purpose.

Often, when I ask a business leader or manager to define his company’s mission statement, I get a blank stare. After a few awkward moments, he usually replies that it is filed away somewhere.

That is not the best way to lead a company. Your company’s mission statement is the sum of the values of what your company or organization is built around. A good analogy to use is that your company is the bus you are driving. All of your employees are on board, and you’re the driver. The company mission statement is the engine in that bus. It is what drives it forward. If it is in tune and balanced, it will be a powerful driving force to take you and your team into a successful future. If it is out of tune, imbalanced or incomplete, it won’t get you very far. It will be a rocky and disappointing journey.

What is important here is that you, as a green industry business leader, owner or manager, need to totally know and understand that mission statement. You’ve got to be able to communicate it to your team and be able to interpret what it means in the day to day operations of your company. You must be able to translate and explain the value of it so your team members can understand it and be able to see how their own personal values can support it as well. You, as the leader, must communicate and illustrate that mission by your own daily words and actions. In other words, you are the living, breathing example of the company’s mission statement. It’s not enough to just walk the walk and talk the talk, you need to be the mission statement.

One of the keys is to have all of your team members know and understand the mission statement. As a leader, you must be able to show how it relates to the overall health of the organization. On a regular basis, you must continually translate the value of it.

Make sure that this mission statement is posted in your lobby and work area for all employees and managers to see. It should also be on your website for your customers and clients to see. Some business owners and managers I have worked with have it printed on the backs of their business cards, too.

My point is that it should be visible. Starting with you, everyone in your company should know it, believe in it and be able to recite it. Once you have been able to make and reinforce that connection between your team members’ belief systems and their behavior to the company’s mission statement, you will be well on your way to getting the results you need and want for your company.

You will truly be a transformational leader.

Tom Borg is a team performance and customer experience consultant who works with small businesses and organizations in the green industry to improve customer acquisition and retention through his consulting, speaking, training and mentoring. He can be reached at 734-404-5909, or