True leadership is about who you are

Transformational leadership

Transformational Leadership: Creating A Culture Of Excellence

Transformational leadership is a leadership style that focuses on inspiring and motivating followers to achieve their goals and strive for personal and professional growth.

It has been linked to increased motivation and engagement, improved performance, greater innovation, higher levels of satisfaction and well-being, and stronger leadership development.

According to Wikipedia, it is one of the most effective leadership styles, and I agree. It is actually my favorite leadership style, but it is not easy to become a transformational leader.  


5 benefits of transformational leadership

There are several benefits to using a transformational leadership style:

  1. Increased motivation and engagement: Transformational leaders are able to inspire and motivate their followers to achieve more than they thought possible. This can lead to increased engagement and commitment to the organization.
  2. Improved performance: Transformational leadership has been linked to improved performance and outcomes in a variety of settings, including education, healthcare, and business.
  3. Greater innovation: Transformational leaders encourage creativity and risk-taking, which can lead to the development of new ideas and innovations.
  4. Higher levels of satisfaction and well-being: Employees who experience transformational leadership report higher levels of job satisfaction and well-being.
  5. Stronger leadership development: Transformational leaders often focus on developing the leadership skills of their followers, which can lead to the creation of a strong leadership pipeline within the organization.


Definition and Characteristics of Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a leadership style in which leaders inspire and motivate followers to not only achieve their goals, but also strive for personal and professional growth. This type of leadership is focused on creating a shared vision and empowering followers to work towards that vision.

Characteristics are:

  • Vision: Transformational leaders have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, and they are able to inspire and motivate their followers to work towards that vision.
  • Empowerment: Transformational leaders empower their followers by giving them the autonomy and resources they need to succeed.
  • Creativity: Transformational leaders encourage creativity and risk-taking, which can lead to the development of new ideas and innovations.
  • Authenticity: Transformational leaders are authentic and genuine, and they are not afraid to be vulnerable with their followers.
  • Personal and professional growth: Transformational leaders focus on the personal and professional growth of their followers, and they encourage them to develop their skills and abilities.
  • Communication: Transformational leaders are effective communicators and are able to clearly articulate their vision and goals to their followers.
  • Inspiration: Transformational leaders are able to inspire and motivate their followers to achieve more than they thought possible.
  • Emotional intelligence: Transformational leaders have high emotional intelligence and are able to effectively manage their own emotions and the emotions of others.

What are the downsides?

There are a few potential downsides to transformational leadership:

  • Time and energy demands: Transformational leadership can be demanding in terms of time and energy, as it requires leaders to be actively involved in the personal and professional development of their followers. This can be especially challenging for leaders who are responsible for managing large teams.
  • Risk of over-reliance: If followers become too reliant on their transformational leader, it can be difficult for the organization to continue moving forward when the leader is no longer present.
  • Limited applicability: Transformational leadership may not be the most effective approach in all situations. For example, it may not be as effective in crisis situations where quick decision-making is necessary.
  • Resistance to change: Transformational leadership often involves significant change, and some followers may resist this change. Leaders must be prepared to address resistance and work to gain the support of their followers.
  • Personal vulnerability: Transformational leaders are often more vulnerable and open with their followers, which can make them more susceptible to criticism and negative feedback.

Overcoming the downsides

Here are a few ways to overcome the downsides of transformational leadership:

  1. Time and energy demands: To overcome this, leaders can delegate responsibilities to their followers, allowing them to take on more ownership and accountability for their work. This can help reduce the time and energy demands on the leader while also developing the skills and abilities of the followers.

  2. Risk of over-reliance: Leaders can encourage their followers to develop their own leadership skills and take on more responsibilities. This can help to create a more self-sufficient and resilient team that is less reliant on the leader.

  3. Limited applicability: Use a flexible leadership style that adapts to different situations. They can use transformational leadership when it is most appropriate, and use other leadership styles, such as transactional or autocratic leadership, when the situation calls for it.

  4. Resistance to change: To overcome this, leaders can communicate the reasoning behind the change and involve the followers in the decision-making process. They can also provide training and support to help the followers adapt to the change.

  5. Personal vulnerability: Try to develop a thick skin and learn to take constructive criticism and negative feedback in stride. One can also use a coach or mentor to help them process their emotions and provide feedback.


Transformational leadership

In What Types Of Organizations Is Transformational Leadership Most Appropriate?

Transitional leadership is especially effective for companies going through transition or looking for innovation. This approach encourages people to exceed their previously set performance objectives.

A transformative leadership philosophy has the greatest effectiveness when found in an organization that possesses these traits:

  1. The organization is facing challenges that require a new perspective and fresh ideas.
  2. The employees are not highly skilled or motivated, and need inspiration and guidance to reach their full potential.
  3. The organization is in a state of transition or change, and the employees need a leader who can inspire them to adapt and thrive in a new environment.
  4. The organization is in a competitive market and needs to stay innovative to survive and grow.
  5. The organization has a complex structure and a leader who can coordinate and align different teams, departments and functions is required.



How can you become a transformational leader?

Here are a few steps that can help you become a transformational leader:

  1. Develop self-awareness: Understand your own strengths, weaknesses, values and motivations. This will help you understand how you can best inspire and motivate others.

  2. Communicate a clear vision: Share your vision for the future with your team and inspire them to work towards it.

  3. Lead by example: Walk the talk, demonstrate the behavior and attitude you expect from your team.

  4. Empower your team: Give your team the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their work.

  5. Develop your team: Help your team members develop their skills and abilities through coaching, mentoring, and training.

  6. Create a positive culture: Foster a positive and supportive work environment that encourages creativity and innovation.

  7. Be open to feedback: Be open to feedback from your team and use it to improve your leadership style.

  8. Be adaptable: Be open to new ideas and be willing to adjust your leadership style as needed.

  9. Encourage creativity and innovation: Encourage your team to think outside the box and to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems.

  10. Practice Emotional Intelligence: Build strong relationships, understand the emotions of your team and how they affect their work.

Transformational leadership comes naturally. If you don’t recognize yourself in the characteristics, it will be very difficult to develop. It’s a continuous journey of self-development, learning and adapting.


Recommended books

  • “Transformational Leadership” by Bernard M. Bass and Ronald E. Riggio
  • “Becoming a Transformational Leader: How to Take Your Leadership to the Next Level” by Ken Shelton
  • “The Transformational Leadership Compass: A Dynamic Coaching System for Creating Big Change” by Benny Ausmus
  • Transformational Leadership: * Lot’s of people talk about it, not many people live it. It’s not sexy, soft, or easy by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert

If you’d like to compare transformational leadership with other styles of leadership, you can read the following post:   Leadership Styles, Why and When They Matter.


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