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Initiating the Domino Effect: Transformational Leadership

Consider the image of a carefully arranged, static set of dominoes. Each domino piece represents a portion of the potential that resides in the carefully arranged structure. Any action along the string of dominoes will create movement and repercussions throughout every other piece. In true domino style, once one piece starts to fall, all will start to fall.

For some, arranging dominos goes far beyond a hobby. When applied through a leadership lens, the cause-effect action of dominoes causing a reaction on the rest of the pieces can be utilised to visualise and empower positive action and reaction from leaders and team members alike.

Proactive, collaborative and transparent leaders take into account The Domino Effect when considering what certain changes in action, behaviour or management style will have over the team as a whole. These leaders carefully measure how a decision relating to one department will affect the entire organisation. They will have an awareness of where to initiate the first falling domino (i.e. the first action) to best affect the remaining pieces in line. These leaders understand that their work and those of each manager is only made possible with the collaboration, trust and momentum that comes from their team.

The image of the falling domino can provide an ideal analogy for Transformational Leadership. Transformational leaders approach each situation from a place of internal motivation, utilising this force to power the collective mission and vision of the organisation. By instilling equal value and power into each individual within the organisational, the leader is trusting that change in the individual will inevitably affect a change throughout the entire organisation, just as one domino falling causes change throughout the entire set.

To appreciate the full force The Domino Effect can have on your organisation, there are a few distinct qualities that leaders need to exemplify to get the most out of the natural momentum that comes from having trusting that each piece will fall sequentially into place, causing the optimum change:

Be Proactive

The transformational leader will be proactive in their approach to arranging any change within the organisation. They will motivate each individuals who will be instrumental in delivering the change. They will anticipate any missed connections, reflect on past errors or missed opportunities, they will test parts of the plan that may need tweaking or realignment, and they will foresee the difficulties down the path.

No matter how large or small the scope of the vision, the transformational leader will actively develop a challenging and engaging vision for every team member to see and feel a part of. The vision of the change will be tied together through the development of small planned steps and the promise of small successes along the path towards its full implementation.

A ‘We’ not ‘Me’ Approach

By maximising collaboration, the leader will focus on the ‘we’ of the task ahead. This will involve bringing the team together, listening and collaborating at every possible juncture, and empowering others to also see their potential to set the pieces in motion.

A pivotal part of this transformational leadership approach is also celebrating individual achievement of tasks made possible with the assistance and direction of instrumental mentors or coaches. Transformational leaders will impart with knowledge to assist those around them to conquer the challenges ahead.

Assessment of the Outcomes

When a leader understands the nature of The Domino Effect, the overall outcome of the plan they have initiated will be the telling factor in its success, along with the lasting attitudes of their individual team members. Transparent, Responsive, Responsible and Reflective – these are some of the things the transformational leader needs to be when they are committed to getting the best results. If a misstep happens, the transformational leader is responsive instead of unresponsive, and engaged instead of dismissive.

With an understanding of The Domino Effect, the leader can anticipate the falling of the last domino into place. If the process doesn’t fall the way the leader envisioned, knee jerk reactions and blame is avoided. Instead the leader focuses on seeking feedback and carefully listening to it with a growth mindset perspective.

When it comes to transformational leadership, The Domino Effect is a very real thing. With momentum behind it, a falling domino can knock over another domino more than one and a half times its own weight. Imagine the implications of this phenomenon as a metaphor for individual motivation and motivation in your organisation.

Think you have what it takes to be a transformational leader? Master your leadership skills with the Challenge of Leadership course with LMA.