Transformational Leadership, Because The Old Rules No Longer Apply

Insights | 09 March 2018

We opened our 2018 OnTarget series in Sydney and Melbourne with renowned Transformation experts, Adam Salzer (Sydney) Chair of the Australian Transformation and Turnaround Association (AusTTA) and Glen Casey Deputy Chair of AusTTA (Melbourne).

They discussed the topic of Transformational Leadership and shared war stories and insights from experiences gained at, among others, a media company reducing headcount and upskilling remaining resources, the shutdown of manufacturing companies and a full transformation to open up to a new world via a shared marketing service, and a government department struggling to use technology to address changing consumer demands.

Specifically, they gave examples of where failures and successes have occurred due to leadership practices and addressed the questions below, and how transformational leadership applies.

Why do we need transformational leaders?

Essentially, we need transformational leaders to achieve a vastly different level of effectiveness. The old rules of business and organisational operations no longer apply and are no longer enough.

We need transformational professionals to support us through the unknown unknown – we don’t know what or how technology is going to change us. We don’t know the business models yet to be created. Essentially, we don’t know what it’s going to eat us.

Transformational leaders are the missing link to take us from the present into the unknown.

What is transformational leadership?

As defined by AusTTA, it is a Transformation mentality that is holistic and includes existing operations as well as future opportunities.

It is the co-creation of a clear vision that includes managing the ‘unknown unknown’, the assembly of a portfolio of strategic options, assessment of past failures in order to create conditions for success and clear, specific benefits, and then track them.

To date many transformational leaders have been self-selected and self-educated – again that is no longer enough. AusTTA is working to build this Profession to a Charter status and has identified no less than 15 skills across four Professional, Communications, Behavioural and Personality Skill quadrants required for Transformation Leadership. It is these skills that ensure they differentiate from an operational professional (who is also equally valuable and needed in different cases).

What are the best organisational designs to allow Transformational Leadership to work?

Firstly, it’s important to create a picture of what the Transformation is about and where the organisation is heading. The structures to drive and manage the Transformation are needed to support that vision – from Project Teams, to a Transformation Office (TMO), Embedded Transformation Teams and an Innovation Unit. These require leadership and collaboration between the Board, C Suite, Management Team and all other staff to keep heading towards that vision.

We appreciated the many excellent audience questions, including whether there’s such a thing as change that’s too fast. We believe in failing smart so that regardless of what happens with unknown unknowns, you’re able to transform quickly.

If you need Transformational Leadership support please get in touch on 1300 70 13 14.

About The Author

Ken Sheargold, Chief Executive Officer at PM-Partners group

Ken joined PM-Partners as a Transformation Consultant in February 2016 and will be taking on the role of CEO on May 8th 2017. Ken is responsible for delivering major transformational change where there is complexity, risk, many inter-dependencies and conflicting priorities.

Prior to joining PM-Partners group he held a number of executive appointments in the NSW Government and Telstra Corporation.

His most recent appointment in government was the Executive Director, Premiers Implementation Unit directly responsible for supporting the Premier in the delivery of his key priorities across NSW. Prior to working in the Department of Premier and Cabinet he was the Executive Director of ServiceFirst, the shared services organisation responsible for the provision of shared services to the central agencies of government.

He was the Program Director and commercial lead for the outsourcing of ServiceFirst that successfully executed contracts with Unisys and Infosys in June 2015 with a total contract value of $235 million dollars.

Prior to joining the NSW Government, he held a number of senior appointments in Telstra Corporation. Those appointments included Executive Director Corporate Strategy and Customer Experience and Executive Director Service Advantage.

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