Why do we need 'transformational' leaders?

In a start-up business scenario, the most common hindrance is “resistance” to the change. I have seen often that this resistance does not necessarily only ‘slow down’ but sometimes, it stops the progress completely.

Leaders of Change

While launching LG ( Korea) LCD monitors’ distribution in Kores India, there was no consensus at the start – the LCD monitor is too expensive; the profit margins are not enough to distribute; our team is not ready for it; should we have a ‘separate’ team dedicated to the task ? Should we involve ourselves? It was just negativism and resistance to change. Yes, truly, it was a competitive market with several branded as well as unbranded monitors in the market. That was not the problem, though! The main issue was the company was not ready for change! It was not technically equipped to understand the nuances of techno-commercial selling. HP Printer consumables distribution did not need any technical knowledge to distribute and worst, the company was happy doing that alone. In the process, due to lack of ‘Change’ or transformational leaders, the project bombed leading to inventory waste and business loss. The company could not distribute ‘leader’ brand in LCD monitors. Precisely, they were not equipped to do that.

The model of ‘transformational leadership’ goes beyond management as usual; such leaders are able to rouse people through sheer power of their own enthusiasm. Such leaders don’t order or direct; they inspire. In articulating their vision, they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating. They show strong belief in that vision and excite others about pursuing it with them. Such leadership was ‘missing’ in Kores and they had gone into ‘comfort zone’ caused by successful HP distribution.

It requires mobilising people for Organisational change by arousing their emotions about the work they do. There was no commitment to ‘change’ and deliver results in the new business activity of distributing LCD monitors. There was a problem in Kores – though the leadership was stable – there was lack of enthusiasm and no adaptation to ‘change’ in goal setting; lack of drive to ‘sell’ and negligible number of ‘regular’ market trips to understand reality – all that disabled them enough -to meet the ‘change’. No doubt, it calls for a transformational leader to bring ‘change’ in the organisation.

Doing it or bringing about ‘change’ requires the leader to articulate a compelling vision of the new organisational goals. Even though the goals may appear somewhat utopian at the start, committing to them can be emotionally satisfying in itself. Arousing team members’ emotions in this way and harnessing them in pursuit of lofty or noble goals gives a leader a powerful force for change. Such a ‘change’ was brought in a ‘laid back’ organisation like Kores catering to monopolistic ‘carbon paper’ trade, while starting HP distribution – because it was a matter of ‘survival’. When the company got into comfort zone after success with HP distribution, the drive to meet ‘change’ was missing.

In essence, the company remained a small player in distribution industry while other companies in the trade grew a lot more, adding many more products and profits in the kitty. It was not realised by the Kores management – that the only constant parameter in business enterprise is ‘change’ and we require ‘transformational’ leaders to bring about Organisational change.

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