An invite from Tim Smit

'Why don't you come and join us and change your life forever?’

Play video


Experience Hothouse

Hear from some of the people who've been on the programme.

Play video

Are you completely engaged with the environment around you?  Are you mindful of your own fulfilment, of your pathway and of the broader impact you can make within your communities? Transformational leaders are able to draw upon the natural energy around them and recognise the creativity and potential within themselves and the people they work with. They are able to generate motivation and develop and encourage collaborative thinking. They inspire others by their drive and passion, and by forming strong values and a culture of integrity and trust. 

So, can you grow into this style of leadership? Is it possible to learn how to become a transformational leader? The intent of this article is not to provide the list of all lists on what to do, but instead share some universal steps inclusive of some concepts and qualities of the transformational leadership style. 

Step one: Consciousness

"The beginning is the most important part of the work", Plato. How many times have you walked to the shops and not noticed your surroundings, who you walk past, how you’re feeling, how quickly you’re moving? At the centre of leading transformational change is consciousness – of you as an individual, as a group, as an organisation, as part of a community. It requires having complete awareness of your environment and your sense of self, including your emotions, thoughts, sensations, values and direction in life. Start with self-mastery and it will then open the door to consciousness within a group. The web can then move out from the heart, joining together individuals for joint purpose and enabling collective monitoring of behaviour, vision and motives. Self-mastery includes having a clear purpose, the ability to plan, to meditate, to reflect. Consciousness is a lifelong journey and requires an extensive commitment to both personal and collective growth.

Step two: Clarity of purpose

When considering how to become a transformational leader, consider the role of the inventor, the curator and teacher; for all must play a part. The inventor: for powerful visioning and being comfortable with dreaming, risk-taking and aspiring to greater achievement. The curator: for pulling the visioning process altogether and painting meaning and understanding for the rest of the organisation. The teacher: for recognising and developing the skills of the others around you. It is this connection of all that surrounds you that enables an energy, empowerment, strength and attunement towards a clear and shared vision.

Step three: Empowerment

The transformational leader sees connections in their environment and ensures that everyone within it is accountable for making things happen. By sharing failure and achievement, the collective learns together and grows stronger as a result. With empowerment comes a sense of shared vision and purpose, as well as individual purpose and motivation. It’s not, however, just about organising some self-study or coaching. It’s about having empathy with the community and building this community to include a broader group, which promotes trust and capitalises on its diversity of thinking.  

Step four: Energy

How is energy relevant when looking at how to become a transformational leader? Transformational leadership requires great capacity to identify and harness energy from within oneself. The strength and power of this energy is ultimately associated with your understanding of your greater purpose and your connection to the world. Those that don’t see their role in life or emotionally and mentally experience events that are not within their control, rapidly lose energy and become drained. Transformational leaders make the choice to see their connection to their environment, they are tuned in towards their shared vision and rather than experiencing a loss of energy following any issues, they use any failure as an opportunity to learn and evolve stronger. 

Step five: Creativity

There is a difference between creativity and innovation. If you’re creative, you have the aptitude to dream new opportunities or resolutions to problems. If you’re innovative, you have the competence to evolve those creative notions into tangible services and products.  A creative leader is therefore someone who is able to design an environment and culture that enables individuals to dream and engender ideas. It is completely possible, as a transformational leader, to not be at all creative, but have the innovation to surround yourself with creative people and then transform particular ideas into a vision.

So what makes someone creative? Is it something within or something you can nurture? Rather than try and identify this propensity by interview and HR profiling, perhaps it should start with an acceptance that everyone has the capacity to be creative, provided their environment enables them to be so. After all, creativity comes in a variety of forms and at any time. It’s about being present in the moment, in the here and now.

Take Daniel Lubetzky, Founder of Kind Snacks, for example. Both creative, by taking inspiration by his father’s story regarding a German soldier who gave his father a potato whilst he was confined at a concentration camp during the Holocaust, yet transformative in establishing a large company to produce both healthy snacks and do good for humanity. His not-for-profit organisation is now able to donate $10,000 to a different crowdsource charity every month and over $1 million annually to individuals involved in community-enhancing projects.

Another great example of a creative and transformational leader, is Richard Pierson, Cofounder of Headspace. Previously, as head of business development for an advertising agency, Richard was seeking alternative ways to relax and re-connect with himself and his environment. He found meditation had incredibly positive effects and so with the assistance of Tibetan Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, and technical team, the mobile app Headspace evolved. Their vision was to make mental health a fun journey. The result has made meditation accessible to many.

Why the most creative ideas in leadership come from nature

If you look closely you’ll notice that the natural world is an incredible resource to help figure things out.  From ‘nature’s design’ inspiring architecture and engineering solutions, to the living world teaching us about modifying, resilience, collaboration and networking. Nature is in itself a whole host of systems that thrive when they function naturally and well together. 

At HotHouse, instead of focusing on how to become a transformational leader or any other particular style of leadership, what we do is offer an alternative way of looking at what you can do as a leader, and like nature, look at our interrelationships with others in our environment and life pathways. Our creative leadership programme and its insights into the nature of leadership look at creating more adaptive and thriving organisations, by understanding social complexities and the greater need for cooperation. 


Photo: Dawid Zawiła