Sitting on my desk right now is a pile of leadership books. They are books by Druker, Dobbs, Bass, Bakke, and Maxwell. If you are a student of leadership, you probably have a similar pile. All of them, no matter who wrote them, have several things in common:

· They are all written by corporate CEOs or executives

· They all use examples of transformational leaders that we all know like Nelson Mandela, Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or even Jesus.

· They all teach transformational leadership in the context of big business, big religions, or global politics.

They are all good books with great insights and practical applications, but what is not said in these books is as important as what is said. What is not said is that the average student of leadership is far more likely to lead one person through transition than to be the CEO of a large company with 100,000 employees. The average leader is more likely to work with a small group than head a large international conglomerate. What is not said is that effective leaders more often than not are transforming one person at a time — and often in a lateral relationship, by helping another employee or even a customer.


Photo Credit: Dr. Richard Nongard

When I talk to people about leadership development, they often think leadership is, well, for leaders. Because they are in a rural area or a small business, they think that real leadership is something bigger than they are. This is the myth of seminar leadership programs. The myth is that if you learn leadership, its value will be known when you are a “big leader.”

True Transformational Leadership starts with self-awareness and recognition of an ability to contribute in a meaningful way to other people. The application of transformational leadership is not restricted to the CEO or political leaders. In fact, serious students of Transformational Leadership have learned that helping one person at a time is as important as producing global change as speaking to a forum with thousands of participants.

Clearly Microsoft, under the leadership of Bill Gates, has transformed the next ten generations. In 500 years we will be reading about Bill Gates just like we currently read about Galileo. But the effectiveness of Gates leadership is not only in that he pioneered new technology applications, but in his personal transformation — a transformation that moved him to be a philanthropist who sees transformation coming one person at a time through clean water development, public health initiatives, and individual scholarship prizes.

Gates is an example of a transformational leader, not because he revolutionized the world or created a movement, but because he helped each one of us in our own personal way. I benefited from Bill Gates by using his products on a daily basis as a writer, doing things on the PC that I was never able to do on a typewriter.

· Transformation is the norm in life. Absolutely nothing stays the same. The issue is not how to change, but how to transform while change occurs.

· Leadership is not just for the CEO or international politician — a concept all of us must understand in order to improve our connections to others, even on a one-on-one level.

· A leader must be willing to make his own changes in order to be effective in provoking change in others.

· Leadership is about making tomorrow better than today. I have collaborated with my clients to help them acquire a new vision that inspires them to make a change. We’ve collaborated to help them create a growth mindset based on progress rather than perfection.

· Leadership involves inspiring others to employ creativity, which is the key to original solutions and positive growth.

· Leadership is a personal journey: One of my most profound insights as an entrepreneur was that business transformed me.

Each of us can benefit from these things today; leaders are not something we become but something we are already. Step into your fullest potential today, and activate leadership without waiting. You can begin now, by transforming yourself, to begin transforming others.