What is Transformational Leadership?

What is Transformational Leadership?

The definition of transformational leadership is a type of leadership where the leader inspires and empowers followers to be their very best while transforming the organization to better.  It has become increasingly important for any organization to create a high-performance workforce. To do so, leaders need to be able to inspire the members of the organization to go beyond the mere requirements of their tasks. As a result of this need, many new concepts of leadership have arisen. One of them is transformational leadership.

Examples of transformational leadership can be found in all levels of the organization. They can be present in divisions, departments, teams, and the organization as a whole. Transformational leaders are daring, thoughtful, visionary, risk-takers and inspiring thinkers. They also possess a lot of charisma though charisma alone is not enough to lead a change in the way a business or organization operates. In order to bring about major changes, there are four factors that transformational leaders must display:

Inspiration Motivation: The very foundation of transformational leadership is the endorsement of a common mission, vision, and set of values to the organization’s members. The leader’s vision becomes so compelling that they know what they desire out of every single interaction. Such transformational leaders are able to guide those who follow them by providing a sense of challenge and meaning. They work with such optimism and enthusiasm that they foster the spirit of commitment and teamwork.

Intellectual Stimulation: Transformational leaders encourage creativity and innovation among those who follow them. They encourage their followers to come up with new ideas and never publicly criticize mistakes that are made by them. Leaders focus more on the problems’ “what” and do not dwell on assigning “blame.” They do not hesitate to discard practices that have been set but found ineffective.

Idealized influence: Transformational leaders believe in the viewpoint that a leader can influence his or her followers when he or she actually practices what is being preached. The leader acts as a role model that followers strive to emulate. Such a leader is always able to will the respect and the trust of followers through actions. He or she typically places followers’ needs before his or her own, sacrifice any personal gain for followers, and demonstrate excellent standards of ethical behavior.

Individualized consideration: Leaders become mentors to followers and give them rewards for innovation and creativity. Followers are treated in accordance with their knowledge and talents. Followers are also empowered to decide and are being given the support needed to have their decisions implemented.

However, there are also criticisms of transformational leadership. This is because it lends itself to self-promotion by leaders as it makes use of what is known as impression management. It is also very hard to be taught or trained as it is an amalgamation of theories. Leaders may manipulate followers and there are possibilities that they may not gain as much as lose.

The present situation characterized by global turbulence, organizational instability, and uncertainty calls for transformational leadership to succeed at all organizational levels. Transformational leaders have followers who show high levels of organization commitment and job satisfaction. Such devoted workforce will make it very useful to work on finding ways to develop methods of transforming the organization through leadership.

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Dr. Paul L. Gerhardt, PhD
The Organizational Doctor TM

Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Paul L. Gerhardt. All rights reserved.


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  2. Dana Raquel Bryant says:

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