During one of the seemingly annual debilitating October snowstorms in my area, a branch fell across the power lines outside my house and caught on fire. As we gazed, the blaze soon fired the wire itself, then ran with it all the way to the transformer at the edge of our property. An immediate and mighty flash lit up the entire Eastern Hemisphere (remember that!?), then we and many others were promptly plunged powerless into the cold dark night, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth…
Fortunately, we have a fireplace in the living room. So we purposely employed some of that downed branch’s relatives and invited the fire inside.
There, the small heap of formerly dry, inert logs, now ablaze with colorful, dancing flame, sustained us with light and heat. As the cordwood released its sizzling potential, occasionally spit-firing cascades of tiny shooting stars skyward, we watched, warmly mesmerized, as it altered our plight and prospects.
That’s the thing about fire and other catalysts of change. Their very appearance sparks significant transformations in themselves, their surroundings and ultimate destinies. Be they good or bad.
As a leader, your cache of human resource capital can be burnished to pure gold, or burned to worthless ash, solely by the quality of your stewardship.
Like the damaging wildfire, poor leaders consume good will and intentions, destroying trust, morale and potential to realize an overall loss. Or, like the intentional fire harnessed in the hearth, skillful leaders transform willing workers to reap purposeful results together they could not on their own.
Remember the “fire triangle” you learned about in elementary science class? The three basic ingredients of fire are fuel, oxygen and heat. Turns out there’s another critical component: To sustain a fire, a fourth element, combustion, creates a chemical reaction that releases more heat and allows the fire to continue.
That’s where you come in! To your team’s innate talents, skills and resources, you can add that combustive spark to motivate and sustain your work, collaboratively enabling power in each other and your spheres of influence.
By combining just four shimmering elements in an intentional blaze of brilliance, here’s how you can overcome inertia, draw supporters, fan passion and burn obstacles to advance your goals and transform outcomes:
1. Individual. The transformational leader is individually relational by demonstrating genuine concern with each teammate’s worth, wants and well-being. Being respectful, openly transparent and communicative, the leader celebrates each one’s intrinsic value and establishes a trustful, two-way relationship. Start with the vibrant fuel of individuals.
2. Intellectual. The transformational leader welcomes and rewards fresh ideas and a diversity of thought. Free thinking and active learning encourages ingenuity, nurtures personal and professional creativity, and reveals potential for further refinements and new possibilities. Supply the essential oxygen of intellectual stimulation.
3. Influential. The transformational leader kindles influence to elevate and empower individuals, institutions and ideals. Within your relational hearth, stoke your oxygenated fuel with the draft of upward momentum and the empowering warmth of persuasive influence. Add the critical heat of persuasive power.
4. Inspirational. The transformational leader eloquently articulates a compelling vision to both engage and motivate investments by all stakeholders. Such inspirational impact comes not from explaining policies and procedures, but through personal, dynamic, and difference-making stories that touch people’s hearts. Add the vital spark of inspiration.
MasterPoint: Kindle an intentional blaze for the best in transformational results.