Transformational Leadership 101
What is transformational leadership? Ultimately, a model for motivating innovation.
Companies that claim to be “transforming” seem to be everywhere.
Growth and change are inevitable in business, but transformational leadership can inspire workers to embrace change by fostering a company culture of accountability, ownership and workplace autonomy.
Effective leadership can be the difference between a motivated and engaged team and a demotivated one.
ImportantSimultaneously, with a workforce that proves less and less engaged at work, businesses are also searching for ways to improve employee motivation and increase engagement in the office.
It’s no secret that an effective leadership strategy can be the difference between an organization that flourishes and one that fails.
Role model, motivator, confidant, companion. Doesn’t every manager want to be more to his employees than just a boss?
It’s called transformational leadership and has led to the success of many companies through its very human approach to management.
Are you a transformational leader or are you interested in finding out what it takes to be one? Find out what transformational leadership is all about and how you can leverage this style to better lead your team.
In A Nutshell
Transformational leadership styles focus on team-building, motivation, and collaboration with employees at different levels of an organization to accomplish change for the better.
Transformational leaders guide followers through inspiration and motivation.
ImportantTransformational leaders set goals and incentives to push their subordinates to higher performance levels while providing opportunities for personal and professional growth for each employee.
Transformational leaders create a vision for their followers and are excellent role models and their followers emulate many of their actions.
WarningTransformational leadership differs from one of its predecessors, transactional leadership, because it focuses on culture.
Transactional leaders do not try and change the culture – they work within the existing status quo.
On the contrary, transformational leaders strive for culture change to drive improvement and performance.
Transformational leaders inspire their employees, promote their professional and personal growth. They are able to instill an intrinsic motivation that drives performance. It is basically going beyond expectations, and reaching for what’s just beyond grasp.
Transformational leadership is a creative style of leadership that focuses on a continued push towards growth and a rejection of complacency.
ImportantBasically, what that means is that everyone has the potential for improvement. And that’s what a transformational leader exploits; they lift themselves and their teams to higher levels of achievement.
The foundation of transformational leadership is the promotion of consistent vision, mission, and a set of values to the members. Their vision is so compelling that they know what they want from every interaction.
Transformational leaders inspire and motivate others by providing meaning and challenge to their followers’ work.
ImportantThe transformational leader builds relationships with followers through interactive communication, which forms a cultural bond between the two participants and leads to a shifting of values by both parties toward common ground.
The spirit of the team is aroused while enthusiasm and optimism are displayed.
The leader inspires followers to see the attractive future state while communicating expectations and demonstrating a commitment to goals and a shared vision.
Transformational leaders are happy to communicate their high expectations to individual followers and motivate them on a singular level to gain their commitment to a shared organisational or team belief.
Transformational leaders must also be able to create a positive work culture for their employees.
This requires they assemble the right group of people on a team and create a collaborative environment in which individuals are free to work together, and feel safe to share any creative and innovative ideas that might benefit the organization.
Transformational leaders focus less on establishing strategic plans, and more on facilitating organizational collaboration that can help drive a vision forward.
ImportantThey understand that the most motivated employees are the ones who have a strong sense of purpose. These leaders are not afraid to challenge employees.
They remain optimistic about future goals and are skilled at giving meaning to the tasks at hand.
Speaking of collaboration, it’s critical to the success of a transformational leadership model. The leader must include the team when addressing issues of the project.
The team can help identify problems and should then be part of the process of figuring out solutions for them.
ImportantThe leader must support these efforts and facilitate them. Leaders do this by encouraging teams to challenge assumptions, look at problems for different perspectives and approach them in novel ways.
The intellectually stimulating leader encourages followers to try new approaches but emphasizes rationality.
He or she compels employees to look outside their self-interest to the needs of the team and organization, challenging their mindsets and beliefs to drive growth and performance, encouraging the pursuit of excellence.
Transformational leaders create a diverse and open environment, within which they encourage others to innovate and to form new ideas for the organization and themselves.
Followers’ mistakes are not publicly criticized and creativity is openly encouraged.
This empowers employees to ask questions, practice a greater level of autonomy and ultimately determine more effective ways to execute their tasks.
This is also why transformational leadership can play such an influential role in Change and Strategic Planning.
Transformational leaders believe in the philosophy that a leader can influence followers only when he walk the talk. The leaders act as role models that followers seek to emulate.
Such leaders always win the trust and respect of their followers through their action.
ImportantConsequently, followers demonstrate a high degree of trust in such leaders. Idealized influence in leadership also involves integrity in the form of ethical and moral conduct.
The development of a shared vision is an integral component of the idealized, transformational leader’s role.
It helps others to look at the futuristic state while inspiring acceptance through the alignment of personal values and interests to the collective interests of the group’s purposes.
Transformational leaders have to set examples for others to follow, not merely mouth a set of ideals that they do not adhere to themselves. That doesn’t mean they play it safe. They take risks and often employ divergent thinking.
Transformational leaders usually have very high standards of moral and ethical conduct and can be considered to doing the right thing.
ImportantThey are deeply respected by followers, who usually place a great deal of trust in them.
Behind this, they provide a clear vision and a sense of belonging which drives them to achieve their own goals.
Therefore, these individuals act as powerful role models, and their followers copy or imitate them as they wish to become a leader based around the example set.
The transformational leader isn’t only talking to the team, but to individual team members. Each person is important, and that importance is illustrated by the leader’s personal attention, whether acting as a coach or mentor, to help them grow.
That means the transformational leader must customize the learning opportunities to everyone’s needs and desires.
ImportantTransformational leaders listen to employees’ concerns and needs so they can provide adequate support.
They operate from the understanding that what motivates one person may not motivate someone else.
As a result, they’re able to adapt their management styles to accommodate various individuals on their team.
When such a leader shows individualized consideration they are also aware of the unique talents that each follower brings to the workplace and support them in demonstrating these key skills and behaviors. This leads the follower to aspire to develop further and they show intrinsic motivation when performing their work.
Transformational leaders will know each of their followers individually, and will happily listen to any concerns or needs that their team members may have.
They will act as mentors and coaches for team members, working to develop, empower and inspire them to achieve more and to be more.
ImportantThis individual effort is key to achieving the best results and creating future leaders.
Transformational leadership is visible at all levels of an organization. Managers can use empowering language to gain commitment from their subordinates.
This ability to connect with others regardless of hierarchy is a behavior that transformational leaders practice on a daily basis.
ImportantTransformational leaders also have close contact with their followers and are authentic in showing their strengths and weaknesses within the firm.
Transformational leaders have an innate ability to understand people, define each team member’s goals, and bring everybody together to make a difference.
They are also likely visionary in their own way of thinking and possess communication skills that allow them to not only articulate their thoughts clearly, but to do so in a way that is inspiring to others.
Transformational leaders thrive on personal growth and know their strengths and weaknesses.
ImportantThey often take time to reflect and set daily or weekly goals. These leaders believe everyone, including themselves, should be continually learning and improving.
Remaining open to new ideas and fresh perspectives is an important aspect of transformational leadership.
WarningRather than jumping to conclusions, these leaders regularly gather feedback and ideas from a range of sources before making strategic decisions.
Good transformational leaders are proactive. They cannot simply sit around and wait for change to happen. Rather, they make proactive decisions and bold choices that can set the tone for others to follow.
Good transformational leaders understand changing business dynamics and are always finding innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve.
ImportantThey’re unafraid to alter traditional approaches that have worked in the past as they look toward the future.
Finally, transformational leaders take little issue with admitting they don’t have all the answers.
WarningWhile they can remain confident in their goals and abilities, they’re also able to keep their egos in check and do what’s right for their team or organization.
Given the many benefits of a successful transformational leadership strategy, it is no wonder so many employees feel inspired to practice these skills and incorporate these values into their work.
Many believe the core qualities of a transformational leader are ones that people are either born with or are not.
ImportantBut with hard work and an honest desire to improve an organization, there are some transformational leadership skills that many individuals can learn to embrace.
Successful transformational leaders are empathetic, charismatic, and inspirational.
WarningThese traits may not appear to be learnable, but there are steps you can take as a leader to develop them.
Company culture is an increasingly important aspect of an employee’s overall work experience.
Putting an emphasis on culture can go a long way in your workplace. Those wishing to utilize transformational methods must also take the time to ensure the environment is one which encourages collaboration, innovation, and communication.
Microsoft is a case in point. In the four years since Satya Nadella came on as CEO, he has been credited with transforming Microsoft’s cautious, insular culture. His idea of how to engage and motivate employees was by leading a company-wide hackathon, and empowering employees to work on projects they were passionate about.
Last but not least, the first — and often most significant — impact a transformational leader can make occurs by defining and clarifying an organization’s values.
WarningThis may come in the form of updating its mission and vision statements or simply ensuring there is a clear difference between the two.
Transformational leaders can step into a new organization, identify what isn’t working, and come up with a strategy and set of recommendations to solve it.
A transformational leader goes beyond managing day-to-day operations and crafts strategies for taking his company, department or work team to the next level of performance and success.
Followers respect and trust transformational leaders, so they confirm their values to those of the leaders and yield power to them.
ImportantThe transformational leader articulates the vision clearly and appealingly, acts confidently and optimistically, emphasizes values with symbolic actions, leads by example, and empowers followers to achieve the vision.
The foundation of transformational leadership is collaboration.
Transformational leadership works because it is focused on empowering the individuals in the team.
This results in an empowered workforce, and a team dedicated to personal development.
WarningAlthough every leader wants to see results, most want to foster a pleasant work environment and create meaningful, lasting change within their teams.
And that can start with transformational leadership!
Now that you know the foundations of transformational leadership, you can see how beneficial it can be. You may even be thinking about some actionable ways to put this style into practice. Let me know in the comments below how you plan to adopt a transformational approach in your company.