Making the Speaking Business More Customer Focused

The Most Important Act of a Transformational Leader


About Michelle Ray

Born in Australia and now residing in Vancouver, Canada, leadership expert, Michelle Ray is an award-winning speaker and founder of the Lead Yourself First Institute. Michelle began her career in the media industry with one of Australia’s leading broadcasting networks. She worked her way up the management ladder and was responsible for the sales revenues of 25 radio and television affiliate stations. She was subsequently hired by one of the world’s largest cinema advertising contractors to lead the company’s sales team and was also responsible for successfully generating record–breaking revenues during a severely depressed economic climate.


What is the most important act of a transformational leader? Without question it is the leader who can communicate vision with a forward-thinking mindset.

My first professional experience with a transformational leader began when I accepted a very challenging position to lead a small advertising sales team in a down economy. Although I had worked in the industry for over ten years, my experience did not prepare me for the challenge of inspiring my team during a severe recessionary environment. Being the person who is ultimately responsible for achieving results, I was acutely aware of the pressures associated with my role. In addition to managing and dividing sales territories amongst the team, establishing targets and budgets, reporting regularly to senior management, my greatest challenge was not only about reaching sales goals. The true test of my leadership acumen came in the form of managing a diverse team of high achievers, including my predecessor who was “demoted” to make room for me.

Fortunately, my manager possessed an extraordinary strength of character, and a raw openness in a leadership role that I admired greatly. Above all else, he not only understood my vulnerabilities and fears, he was able to create an environment of high trust. I was able to discuss my own challenges regarding the individual and collective performance of my team with ease. And it was in this role that I learned the difference between transactional and transformational leadership. A transactional leader has a preference for staying in the status quo,  going about his or her day-to-day responsibilities while giving minimal consideration to the purpose of it all. The relational aspect of individual and team performance is secondary to results. A transformational leader is the opposite. My manager exemplified the qualities of a transformational leader: Specifically, he led with vision and an uncompromising dedication to the success of his team. He demonstrated a genuine belief me, communicated on a daily basis while remaining acutely interested and invested in the outcomes of every sales encounter.

When I reflect on this example, it also serves to remind me that a transformational leader has the ability to create an internal passion within the organization that is felt by all. Leaders are in a position to profoundly impact and the atmosphere, either positively or negatively. Therefore, it is incumbent on a leader to understand the extent of his or her influence, if he or she is to have success in helping the enterprise achieve a strategic advantage in its respective marketplace/industry.

When you become THE transformational leader who can lead with vision, ignite passion and create a sought-after culture,  your team will thrive and your organization will continue to flourish for future success.


To Learn more about Michelle contact [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]