Hugh Blane, President of Claris Consulting and author of "7 Principles of Transformational Leadership" stopped by CEOtoCEO's studio to speak on Transformational Leadership: Create a Mindset of Passion, Innovation & Growth.
Blane's upbringing and subsequent professional experience has shaped his current career and outlook on life. Blane is originally from Scotland, where his grandfather was an entrepreneur and a true rags-to-riches story. However, Blane's father growing up in wealth became a "riches to rags" story. Experiencing financial hardship while growing up inspired Blane to chase success in his professional life, he equated success with money and wealth. In the beginning of his professional life Blane said money was his value and defining factor of success. After a tough year in business, Blane's wife approached him with the realization that Blane was not happy. Chasing money was not bringing him any happiness or success. From this realization, Blane began understanding the value of transformational leadership and the importance of three principles: purpose, promise, and projects.
The customer is the most important aspect of any business. Blane underscored this point by challenging viewers to put themselves in the perspective of the customer. He asked; as a customer, when you read a report of an internal meeting, do you want to hear that the company you are paying is talking about numbers in their meetings? Or do you want to hear that the company is focusing the meeting on how to make customers (you) happy? Purpose is short, it describes your impact, it shapes your decisions, and it excites employees and customers. Most importantly, a purpose statement is behaviorally explicit, meaning it outlines exactly what the company values and how they are going to uphold those values.
Making a promise and keeping a promise is integral to building and maintaining strong relationships. Blane outlined the four most important promises you will make:
- Promises to yourself
- Promises to your family
- Promises to your employees
- Promises to your customers
Working on these core relationships fosters trust in the most important aspects of your life and your career. Promises should be carefully considered and upheld according to your purpose principle.
In today's fast-paced and competitive business world it is not enough to master the technical skills of your field, you must also master the people aspect as well. In order to become a transformational leader, you must also have the courage to look in the mirror and understand that what got you to your current position is not enough to carry you to your loftier aspirations. You must also have humility to admit that you cannot do it all on your own. Finally, you must have discipline to make a daily commitment to the behaviors that you want to work on.
To conclude his talk, Blane discussed the challenges in conveying the importance of transformational leadership to business owners. Many leaders view these soft skills as less important than the hard skills needed for success. Blane emphasized that hard skills are the easy part, anyone can learn hard skills. Soft skills and people skills carry real financial benefit for leaders if they choose to develop them.
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