Let’s say you go to the doctor with a backache. After examining and questioning you the doctor is convinced your back is simply sore because you helped a friend move last weekend. “Just take a few Advil and rest”, she says. Quick fix, and your only work is to take the medicine.
But what if the doctor comes to believe that your backache is from something more serious – a herniated disk? Now, there is more work involved for you. Even if you have surgery you will have to agree to some lifestyle changes, stretching exercises, core development, and better posture. More of the work for the ‘cure’ belongs to you.
Now, what if the doctor suspects an even more grim prognosis – cancer? And what if the cancer is revealed to be life-threatening? No ‘cure’ is immediately and your prognosis is not good.
Now, MOST of the truly important work belongs to you – decisions about how to spend your remaining days on earth, important conversations with loved ones, choosing how to allocate your resources and provide for the education of your children, choices about treatment or hospice.
In the latter case, a doctor knows that she cannot ‘cure’ you and so she does not promise a cure. She provides you with information, frames the issues, suggests alternatives and offers support.
This is Transformational leadership – framing reality, pointing out touch choices, and providing a context for the work.