In our two previous discussions, we established that transformation is distinguished, in part, by the ability to venture into the unknown. In light of this, the transformational journey takes courage.
However, the most critical and perhaps difficult facet of leading strategic or organizational transformation is enrolling others to join you on a journey toward achieving breakthrough results.
Despite the courage it takes to venture into the unknown, and regardless of how attractive, compelling, and vivid the possibilities set forth by a transformation may be, others must be moved and inspired to act. The operative words here are moved and inspired.
Enrolling others in a vision for transformation cannot be forced. An enrollment conversation is conducted in a condition of choice, and people must choose to enroll or not. This fact illustrates a fundamental difference between leadership and management: Managers can operate from a position of control; leaders cannot.
A transformational leader faces a dilemma: “I need this person’s authentic commitment. Commitment is something that can only be given, not demanded. How can I get this person to give me the thing that only she/he can give me?” If a transformational leader demands, manipulates, cons, or cajoles others to gain a commitment, he/she loses his/her legitimacy as a leader. That’s not enrollment.
Enrollment is a powerful tool for a transformational leader. Indeed, after completing a yearlong leadership development program, the executives of the world’s largest computer company told us that their most important learning was how to enroll. There is nothing more transformative than involving people in the work to achieve transformation. When people are truly enrolled — having authentically chosen to play a key role in a transformational journey — sustaining momentum is relatively easy, given executive courage and commitment are also sustained.
Additionally, people enroll in a vision because they identify that the leader is walking her/his own talk, authentically. A transformational leader’s ability to move and inspire others is the point at which the transformation initiative begins to gain a life of its own.
The best part: Anyone can be a transformational leader. The harsh truth is that some CEOs are not effective leaders; the ability to lead is not dictated by title or position. Highly effective leaders can be found throughout every organization and across every level of corporate strata.
Quite simply, if you are ready to create a space for — and take a stand for — an inspiring and challenging future, and you’re ready to enroll others in your vision, then the future is yours to define.