Definition of a Leader

While nobody wants to be a bad leader and everybody only wants to follow a good leader, have you ever tried to define who a leader really is? I think the answer is pretty simple. Everyone who has influence with one other person is a leader, whether you are at your job, with your family, or in any other organization you are a part of.  Great leaders are also willing to lay their lives down for others and for those they lead. Let me tell you about one way of laying your life down.

A Transformational Leader

Great leaders never stop learning, and most leaders want to have a positive impact on the people around them and on their communities. The problem is that most leaders have only been taught how to manage people, yet may never have been taught or given the practical tools with which to lead people, while, at the same time, managing the systems and procedures around them. By removing the personal and process constraints, individuals can develop into the kind of leader they aspire to become and foster the kind of organization they aspire to lead.

The good news is that with the right ingredients, tools, and behaviors needed, each of us can become the kind of leader who has a positive impact in every sphere in which we have influence. 

I call this kind of leader a transformational leader, one who has been taught, trained, and equipped so they have the tools that empower them to go to another level of leadership in every area in which they lead.

Who Are Transformational Leaders

The leaders I am talking about are normal people like you and me, some with unbelievable successes and some with unbelievable failures. We don’t think transformational leaders are any smarter than anyone else or any dumber. 

We do know transformational leaders are people just like us, people whose pasts have included such experiences as cheating on their spouses, marriages that have ended, sexual abuse when they were children, discovering their daughters had been raped in college, having abortions that they wish they hadn’t had, struggling with strong pornography addictions, continuing to overeat, drinking too much, filing bankruptcy, and so on. These are only some of the many failures that many of us have experienced.  

I am one of those people who cheated on his wife, and I am also a man who was sexually abused by a female kindergarten teacher. 

Overcoming Failures and Becoming Successful as a Transformational Leader

Here’s the good news. We don’t have to be forever bound by our past. I know that we have the tools to help all of us overcome the failures we may have had and help us all to become more successful. I believe there isn’t anything anybody has ever done that would keep them from becoming a stronger leader. 

Even though you may be someone who has never had any of these things happen to you, the tools we teach might keep you from having these things happen to you. 

Why am I willing to tell you those things about my past? Because I have learned that when I am transparent that helps to build trust. Because I have learned that when I am transparent that helps people begin to understand they don’t have to be perfect and can talk freely to me. This is one way I can lay my life down for others. 

Great leaders never stop learning, and we can all become the kind of transformational leader who continues to grow and have greater impact and more influence with those we lead. One way to do that is to be vulnerable and transparent with your team, your co-workers, or your children. If they know you’re not perfect, then they will realize they don’t have to be perfect either. And they will be much more open to bringing their ideas to the table that will be game-changers for your organization or your family. When you as a leader are transparent, when you lay your life down for those you lead, that will open the door for them to talk to you because now they feel safe with you. Then you will hear ideas that you would never have heard before. 

Transformational leaders are smart people with huge hearts who have experienced all kinds of different happenings, and that’s why I am sharing with you what I and others have done to overcome some of our failures and also what we’ve done to have successes. As you come alongside the others of us who are leaders, let’s join together in becoming transformational leaders. 

Ford Taylor is a leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and the author of Relactional Leadership. As the Founder of Transformational Leadership, he is known as a man who can solve complex business issues, with straightforward practical solutions, while maintaining his focus on people.