Tool: Five Traits of Leaders that Transform

five traits of a leader

By Arbresh Useini, 23. December 2018

Our studies and experience with organizational transformation shows that leaders that master these traits are the ones who carry the organization forward.

This tool will help you reflect upon these five traits in your organization. Do the leaders have these traits? Are they capable of increasing happiness, decreasing sick leave, create network relations, or increasing employee evaluations? – All this is based on your traits as a transformative leader.

Measure how transformative your leaders are

When using the five traits as a tool you’ll be able to identify the collective transformational capability among your leaders and in your organization. Does your organization have the capabilities of the future?

On this page you’ll find the five traits explained, a step-by-step guide on how to use the five traits as a tool and a link to download the tool. We strongly recommend you to read the description of the five traits as each trait should be explained in a workshop using them as tool.

Download the Five Trait Tool right here

1: They get it, immediately

The people who transform are the ones, who immediately “get it” and have a natural tendency to thrive with it. To them, speaking of Future of Work and The Modern Workplace comes naturally, and they are aware of technological and societal trends, and are curious, eternal learners. The leadership style makes room for new abilities, and amplifies the existing, but untrained skills. A recent Danish study made by Lederne found, that leaders who are more curious, also understand the challenges and opportunities of the future of work. There is a clear correlation here.

2: They focus on people, planet, and profit

The transformative leader focuses both on purpose, meaningfulness, and value creation, as well as results and profit. Capabilities is nothing without value creation, hence the transformative leader focuses on how he/she can create value for the receiver, i.e. for the colleague, for the team, for the customer, for the customers customer, and for the planet. Results and profit still take a professional, strong place, but it is outbalanced (and sometimes outshined) by the quest for meaning and purpose. It’s ok to make money, if you do it in a conscious, sustainable way. Do well by doing good.

3: They break the pattern

Entering the world of the Modern Workplace requires a lot of patterns to be broken. The transformative leader focuses on a vast number of things at once. The successful transformation starts when the leader understands to replace the existing mindset with a new one, and that it implies breaking a lot of business systems, habits, and behavioural patterns. They need to work with all the elements, simultaneously: Purpose, innovation, culture, organizing, and leadership.

4: They experiment

When breaking the patterns, you need to test new things and experiment a lot. The transformative leader experiments, and tries new approaches to feedback, 1:1-conversations, project methodologies, visual planning, remote work, IT tools etc. Listen to our podcast on innovation in leadership to get inspired (in Danish: “Episode 7: Vær innovativ med dit lederskab!“)

5: They actively seek feedback and input

The transformative leader seeks feedback often and uses it openly and transparently for improving the culture, wellbeing, and behaviour. Also, the transformative leader constantly listens to input from inspirational sources, reads articles, listens to podcasts, and in general stays alert and hungry. Check our blog post on feedback loops in the organization.

Use the tool in three ways

You can use this tool in three ways: as a self-assessment, for mapping your capabilities among your leader group or as an organizational mapping. The value created by using this tool will be threefold: 1) You’ll learn which traits you have, 2) what traits you have as a leadership team (and which you are lacking), and 3) which traits your organization have, or lack, which will give you an indication of the collected transformative capability.

We recommend that you start by using the tool for mapping the traits among management and leaders.

How to get going

This step-by-step guide will explain to you how the traits can be an assessment in your leader group.

  1. Assemble all leaders and create groups of five. Have a free table or spot to use as an extra group. We’ll get back to why in a bit.
  2. Introduce all five traits by using the descriptions from this blog post.
  3. Hand out a print with all five traits to each participant, cut out like playing cards. Each person in every group should have a set with all five traits.
  4. Now each person must assess their colleagues and choose one trait to give to each member in the group, leaving you with one trait for yourself and four to give away.
  5. After each member have assessed the traits they master and what they their colleagues master, everyone should have five cards. If someone have trouble giving away a trait-card or nobody have that specific trait in the group, use the extra group or table reserved to place the card. At the end of the session you’ll see which traits are lacking according to each group. Maybe one group place trait 5, and another group trait 3. This could indicate that these specific traits are in the organization, just not in that specific group.
  6. Give the groups time to reflect upon which traits they have been given and what they chose to hold on to – does anyone have five evens? Why were you given that specific trait and why did you give away that specific trait?
  7. Turn the attention towards how the different traits are divided in the groups. Did any groups have problems giving away one of the traits? Are there any trends in which traits belong to which person or group?
  8. The last reflection of this session could be an assessment of the whole group. Do you lack any specific traits and competences you need to look for in the next hire? Is there a trait that is important for the value you create or your ability to innovate that is missing or too weak?

If you want to take this talk to the next level and discuss how you can work with the traits look at our Pizza Model for how to develop new traits in three different levels.

Leaders who are enabling to transform organizations, not only have these five traits, but also apply the five guiding principles to their work.

  • People first.
  • Purpose, meaning, sense-making and value creation.
  • Continuous innovation and experimentation.
  • An insatiable drive for results.
  • Everybody has the opportunity to take a lead.

You can read more about the five guiding principles in the book The Responsive Leader.

Download the Five Trait Tool right here

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