Transformational Growth and Disruptive Change: 4 Principles to Guide You

January 17, 2018

Leading transformational growth

This blog post is the first of a two-part series on transformational growth and disruptive change. See part 2 here.

The No. 1 priority for the highest achievers today is to lead a personal and professional transformation for themselves and their teams. But that lofty goal can feel like attempting to change tires in the middle of rush-hour traffic. You have to lead transformation without sacrificing financial and operating results, or injuring your engagement scores.

Here are four principles applied by some of the most successful (and most disruptive) leaders of the new world:

World Bank: Diversity and inclusion as a sustainable competitive advantage

Great leaders have to ask: Where does your innovation come from? Are you tapping into a diverse collection of views and backgrounds or just one homogenous group of people? How do you touch and engage a diverse workforce and diverse customers in every community you serve?

The World Bank does it by welcoming, encouraging, and harvesting the ideas and insights of a choir of more than 80 nations that fund the bank. It’s not an imposition on management to hear out all these diverse ideas; it’s not a separate HR “program” to be tolerated. It’s a core asset, and the bank sees it as a crucial sustainable competitive advantage. In fact, most countries send representatives to live right there onsite at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Virgin Group: Reinvent your assumptions, burn the house down

Sir Richard Branson’s biggest insight about self-awareness and executive renewal in business came from losing his family home. Think about what it would be like if your dream house went up in flames, then ask four important questions:

Would you:

  • Rebuild your house exactly the same or differently?
  • Recreate the same design, same architecture and space? Not likely.
  • Restock it with all the same things? Probably not.
  • Recruit all the same people to the project? If your organization vaporized, and your employees had all exited, would you work hard to invite certain people back to your organization? Would you not invite others back? If disaster struck, how would you decide what and who goes or stays?

Why would you make all of the above choices?

For Sir Richard, seeing his dream turn to ashes was a teachable moment of epic proportions—an unexpected provocation to rethink innovation in a world full of surprises.

Lyft: Values-driven leadership: nobody does it alone

Lyft cofounder Logan Green was inspired to start his company after a trip to Africa, where he was awestruck to observe extraordinarily cooperative mass transit in Zimbabwe, despite the apparent chaos of a developing country. People would swarm toward their destinations loaded with chickens and produce, and Green was aghast to see how everyone who needed a ride was encouraged to get a lift from an agreeable driver, whether perched on the roof of an overloaded bus or precariously clinging to the back of a motorbike.

The experience inspired Green to start ZimCar, a name he chose in honor of the African country. Version 2.0 of that vision is a company called Lyft, the world’s fastest-growing ride-sharing firm, whose focus on values-based service and collaborative leadership serves as ballast during this period of exponential growth and change.

Pinterest: Redefining success

The fourth transformational principle embraced by the world’s growth-company leaders relates to how you measure and manage meaning in your life and work. Pinterest founders Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann envisioned a world where every individual could discover and activate his or her passions online—the world’s biggest catalog of ideas to help you identify and actualize your desires.

Pinterest today engages more than 200 million users and this fall reached a pre-IPO market value of over $12 billion. If you haven’t paid the site a visit, it’s time that you give yourself permission to explore what success means to you, because that’s part of the secret formula that will help you generate sustainable success in a world characterized by dizzying change.

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About The Author

Mark Thompson is a New York Times bestselling leadership author and America’s No. 1 executive coach for growth companies. For a free copy of the World Success Survey, conducted in 110 nations, email him at Follow Thompson on LinkedIn.


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