Transformation Starts with Inspirational Leadership (2)


The Journey of Agile Organisation

Habits of Highly Productive Transformation Leaders
Prof. Lere Baale


(Continued from last edition)

Inspiration in a DVUCARD world

Every organisation needs to move with the times. The world we live and work in today is constantly evolving, reshaping and changing. We are in the grip of a digital technological revolution that makes the rate of change exponential. The consequence of this growth is that the environment we work in every day is fragile, often faced with Disruption, Volatility, Uncertainty, Chaos, Ambiguity, Risks and Diversity (DVUCARD).

The initial term VUCA comes from the US Military’s approach to military operations. The military recognises that the world we operate in is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and trains its leaders to lead and command in this environment. The world of business has similar parallels courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Is your business Disrupted?

Is your business Volatile and constantly changing?

  • Do you face Uncertainty in your daily work?
  • Is your business operation becoming Chaotic and complex?
  • Do your leaders need to understand how to perform and deal with Ambiguity?

Is your business becoming increasingly Riskier?

Is your organisation becoming more Diverse in personalities, ethnicity, religion, and gender, among others?

If this resonates with you, then inspirational leadership will add value to your business world.

Striking a good balance

Today’s leaders face the daily challenge of navigating this chaotic complex world and leading their followers to successful outcomes. Bouncy waves of employees join companies every day and expect to see rapid career progression. We live in a world that expects instant results. People know the path to life improvement as earning more money, and the route to this is to climb the corporate ladder and gain promotion and a higher wage.

If this progression is too fast, disaster can strike. The leader has no idea what to do, acts with poor leadership skills and cannot inspire their followers. This is summed up in the “Leader Poem” by Roger McGough:

Great Leadership in The Digital Age

I want to be a leader.

I want to be a leader.

Can I be the leader?

Can I? Can I?

Promise? Promise?

Yippee, I am the leader

I am the leader

OK, what shall we do?


The follower becomes the leader, but they do not know how to lead, let alone be an inspirational leader. This is when inward reflection, combined with education on leadership and understanding of “inspiration”, is needed.

But what causes us to become “inspired”, and what motivates us to act on this inspiration? How do we become inspirational leaders?

Let us explore these questions.

The essence of inspirational leadership

Any form of leadership that inspires a person to act either directly or through empowerment for the benefit of others and an organisation is inspirational leadership. For action to take place, certain conditions must exist in interpersonal relationships. Two critical factors for success are mutual trust and the ability of a leader to inspire others.

Leaders have a moral obligation to provide guidance, mentoring, coaching and resources to their teams. A leader should seek to empower their teams and create the conditions for individuals to use their initiative and judgement in their work. In return, followers must act with loyalty and discipline.

Mutual trust is needed. Trust is a two-way process; whether leader or led, it is created by living our values to professional standards and setting an appropriate example.

Steven Covey describes trust as a mixture of character and competence. Character is a combination of integrity and intent. The character can be developed and enhanced once leaders understand the importance of authenticity in leadership and revealing vulnerabilities.

Leaders also need to understand the importance of behaviours in role modelling and learn valuable techniques, such as storytelling to enhance engagement skills. This will build character.

Providing Inspiring Leadership Across Generations (3)

The intent is more challenging to develop. This is guided by individual motivation and drivers, and can easily be detected by followers. Intent affects the impact of leaders and their inspirational capability. Development programmes, which include coaching, can help leaders reflect on their purpose and understand their impact on others.

This interaction (visible and invisible) between leaders and followers is essential and affects the relationship and trust in teams, which in turn affects the environment necessary for inspiration to flourish.

An inspirational leader is a role model guided by a set of morally good core values. They behave in a way aligned with the organisation’s values and conduct their work in a responsible and accountable manner. Such leaders constantly work to improve their leadership skills and deliver high-performance standards. They are authentic leaders who “walk the talk” and inspire others to follow and raise their performance to achieve more significant outcomes.

Inspirational leadership should be considered a leadership ethos that creates a climate where teams and individuals flourish. The climate people work in stimulates aligned action towards successful outcomes, people feel empowered, teaming is visible, enthusiasm is present, and individuals are committed to the organisation’s success.

Inspirational leadership – impact on organisation climate, performance and maturity

Organisational culture is the overall organisational values, norms and beliefs that shape an organisation. An organisation’s culture should be thought of as the atmosphere; the climate of an organisation is the more localised version of culture. The temperature should be considered the local “weather” people experience at a given time.

Inspirational leadership directly impacts the climate of a team or localised organisation. Lots of mixed climates, in turn, impact the culture and, consequently, organisational performance. If leaders create positive and engaging work climates, they build a positive, innovative culture.

These positive climates can create a movement that will create enough momentum for an organisation to evolve, change, and transform at a certain tipping point. Local positive climates encourage teams to perform to higher levels. These climates, in turn, have an impact on the success of an organisation.

Leadership Principles For Strength in Hard Times

However, no leader works in isolation. Both good and bad leadership directly impacts the climate and culture of an organisation and its maturity. However, what does a mature organisation look like?


Teal leadership

Over the years, many academics have developed organisation maturity models. Frederic Laloux developed one such model in his publication, Reinventing Organisations. From our experience, we believe that the “Teal” organisation is the highest level of organisational maturity. Leaders who seek to build positive climates will generate enough momentum to help organisations move to a “Teal” story.

We believe that inspirational leadership is critical to reaching the “Teal” level of maturity. We propose that this level is reached when inspirational leaders establish a good team climate, teams link up, and inspiration and innovation spread, creating an innovative organisational culture. These are the four levels of organisational maturity, namely Teal, Green, Orange and Red:

Teal: Evolutionary, purpose-driven.

Focuses on inner integrity and sees systemically

Dis-identifies with own ego


radical authenticity

inner rightness as a compass


Green: Pluralistic, relationship-driven.

Focus on fairness, community and equality of all perspectives

Justice for all


relationship over outcomes


values-driven culture

multi-stakeholder perspective


Orange: Achievement, results-driven

Focus on pragmatic, success-oriented and complex logic

Questions authority

get ahead

values freedom & achievement





Red: Conformist, role-driven

Focus on awareness of social roles and the following authority

Absolute truth (black and white)

can see other’s expectations

dogmatic long-term perspective

consistent process

size and stability (hierarchy)


What level of maturity do you think your organisation is currently at?

Where would you like to be?


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