***This article is inspired by chapter 11 of “Leadershift” by John C. Maxwell – “Trained Leaders to Transformational Leaders” ***

“If your actions inspire people to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are a transformational leader.” – John C. Maxwell

While trained leaders are critical in all organizations, our world desperately needs transformational leaders who make a difference that spreads far and wide. We live in an era where a leader’s actions can have a long-lasting and far-reaching impact through the power of the internet. We’re no longer restricted by physical location. We can help people across the world at any given time. We can lead people even when we’re never in the same room together. This is truly an amazing time to be alive!

However, just because we’re connected doesn’t mean we automatically make an impact that triggers a transformational movement. This requires intentional action.

Consider the following five actions that John Maxwell has identified as he’s studied transformational movements over many years.

1 – Possess A Clear Picture Of What Transformational Leaders Do

Vision precedes any significant movement or outcome. If you don’t first see it in your mind, you’ll not be able to physically make it happen. When transformational leaders believe that their cause can make a difference, then they bring conviction to their leadership. They also believe in others. Consider how President John F. Kennedy believed our U.S. scientists and engineers could put a man on the moon many years before it ever happened. His vision triggered actions that ultimately made the vision a reality. Determine the vision you want to see in your organization and then take the necessary actions to make it a reality.

2 – Focus On Your Own Transformation Before Leading Others To It

If you want to help others become transformational leaders, you must first become one. You can’t give what you don’t have. Self-leadership is the first step of transformational leadership. Commit to personal growth. Evaluate the lessons you learn along the way in your journey. Study the cause and effect of your decisions and actions. John Maxwell wisely states, “We teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are.” If you’re not already in the process, begin today investing in yourself so you have plenty to give to your followers. Read books, listen to podcasts, attend seminars, hire a coach, etc. Transformational leadership occurs as an overflow of who you are becoming.

3 – Take Positive Action Based On Your Internal Changes

For real change to occur, we must go from knowing to doing. Knowledge has a limited impact without actions that follow it. When you choose to invest in yourself and you grow, it’s time to take action to help others do the same. Maxwell goes on to say, “Transformation is the result of application, not education…To lead transformationally, you must first live transformed. That takes courage, the courage to let go of the familiar and set off on a better way.” As you learn new principles, make a list of connected practices. Then begin to implement them immediately.

4 – Create An Environment That Promotes Positive Change

Just like seeds need to be planted in good soil in order for plants to grow strong and healthy, so do transformational leaders. Leadership is challenging. The quality of the environment significantly impacts the development of leaders. If you want a team of leaders who truly make a difference in your organization you must foster their growth in a healthy growth-oriented setting. Take a look at the state of your organization. Is it a healthy, growth-oriented environment? If not, what can you do to change it? If it is, what can you do to enhance it? This is a key function of your leadership.

5 – Commit To Making A Difference With Others In Your Community

John Maxwell states that there are three patterns within transformational movements:

  1. Top-Down – Leadership influence filters down, not up.
  2. Small to Big – Mass movements begin with a few people.
  3. Inside Out – Inner values determine outward behavior.

With these three patterns in mind, realize that change starts with you, but it doesn’t end with you. It must be passed along. Also, don’t worry about leading many people until you can lead a few. We must grow into a greater leadership capacity. Too much too soon can crush us. And finally, do the deep inner work to become the leader required for true change in your organization and beyond. Think of the ripple effect when a stone is thrown into the water. The center ring is your personal growth. The next ring is the growth of those closest to you. The following rings are those farther away from you inside and outside your organization. Commit to becoming a leader who has a far and wide reach.


Implement these five key actions so you can begin or extend a powerful transformational movement.

You can do this with dedicated time and attention.

I believe in you!

Until next time…make today GREAT!

P.S. If you’d like some help with navigating personal or professional challenges and opportunities, click HERE to learn about my coaching services.

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