Transaction or Aspiration?

Posted on: March 2, 2020

How you define yourself can indicate how successful you will be. In recent weeks I’ve been having many discussions with business owners about who they are, and what they aspire to be. In these conversations two types of leaders emerge: Transactional and Aspirational.

Transactional business people focus on the here and now. They look at their spreadsheets and see cash-flow, bills and the fundamental realities of running a business in today’s’ costly, fast paced, slim-margined marketplace. We often see transactional leaders making decisions based on the spreadsheet, rather than on the culture, brand or potential of the business. Typically, transactional leaders play it safe. They are conservative and only proceed once the numbers support the shift.

Aspirational leaders, however, focus on the long-term vision of their company, they see what they are becoming and act accordingly. They pull on the mantle of their future self and create the brand that supports who they will be, and what their company brand will become.

Both types of business leader have roles, however, outside of firms which require significant attention to detail, transactional leaders seldom find the type of growth that their business could achieve.

Just like when you decide you are going to buy a certain brand, type or colour of car –you start seeing them everywhere; Aspirational leaders see the future potential, and then see the doors opening around them. The possibilities appear because they believe in what they and their business can become.

Please don’t misunderstand, a sound understanding of your numbers is critical to your long-term success, yet an aspirational outlook will get you to the success point faster.

What are the signs of each type of leader?

Transactional leaders look for; facts and figures, compliance, cost analysis or hard data. They tend to be attracted less to cultural or brand elements due to their difficulty to define. For transactional leaders, its numbers, numbers, numbers.

Aspirational leaders look for: a personal energetic connection with others, a strong culture of empowerment for their teams, staff treatment that is positive and coaching based and a sense of “when”.

For aspirational leaders its all about creating the conditions that lead to the positive future state. Obviously, these are the “absolute” versions of each type. Reality blends many more shades of grey into the spectrum. The ideal is somewhere between the two extremes. The balanced leader understands the importance of the numbers to guide and help influence decision making, while pursuing the best possible outcome from a brand achievement perspective.