What is Transformational Leadership and Why is it Important?

What is Transformational Leadership and Why is it Important? | Leadership | Emeritus

Do you want to be a leader who inspires, motivates, and empowers your team to achieve greatness? Look no further than transformational leadership. This powerful management approach transforms a particular team into a high-performing group. It emphasizes and builds on people’s strengths, ensuring the team’s development and the organization’s growth. This kind of leadership is crucial for organizations focused on disruption and inspiration. Whether you’re a business owner, manager, or aspiring leader, understanding the principles of transformational leadership can take your leadership skills to the next level. In this blog, we’ll dive deep into what is transformational leadership, what makes it effective, and explore how you can apply its principles to transform your team and drive organizational success.

What Is Transformational Leadership

What is Transformational Leadership?

Transformational leaders are focused on inspiring their followers to create change, innovate, and shape the organization’s future. They know that the key to succeeding as a leader is to connect with employees and help them feel motivated to drive success. 

Such leaders can articulate the organization’s vision in a way that is both clear and inspiring. They also work to create a culture of innovation within the organization, where employees feel empowered to take risks and experiment with new ideas.

Scrum Master InterviewCharacteristics of Transformational Leadership

Certain traits make the transformational leadership style effective in leveraging employee potential. Five primary personality traits characterize transformational leadership.  


Extraversion, the quality of extroverts, is generally seen as an inspirational trait often exhibited in transformational leaders. The two main characteristics of extroverts are affiliation and agency. Affiliation relates to the social aspect of their nature, while agency relates to their leadership ability. 

Openness to Experience

Openness to experience is often seen as a key component of transformational leadership, allowing leaders to be more creative and emotionally responsive. This helps them to provide visionary leadership for an organization and to better relate to their team members.

No Micromanagement

Transformational leaders encourage employees to demonstrate their creativity and innovative ability. They become role models for employees, often inspiring them to follow in their footsteps. They don’t micromanage; instead, they foster a culture of employee independence and ownership. 


Conscientiousness is a critical characteristic of a transformational leader because it involves being detail-oriented, meticulous, responsible, and diligent. Conscientious transformational leaders are known to be organized, reliable, and focused on achieving their goals. They set high standards for themselves and their team members and are committed to delivering quality work. 

How to Become a Transformational Leader

Transformational leader aims to inspire positive changes in their employees to foster personal and professional growth. You can become a transformational leader by following the below-mentioned steps. 

Idealized Influence

Leaders with idealized influence are seen as charismatic, trustworthy, and inspirational. Idealized influence is a trait that inspires team members to look up to the leader as a role model, one who can lead by example and whose behavior is worth emulating. Idealized influence allows transformational leaders to create a shared vision and inspire their team members to work toward that vision, ultimately leading to improved performance, engagement, and job satisfaction.

Provide Intellectual Stimulation

Transformative leaders should help employees feel comfortable exploring new ideas and opportunities that can inject innovation into the organization. Encouraging innovation, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving will help create change by challenging the status quo.

Be a Source of Inspirational Motivation

As a transformational leader, it is important to encourage your team to feel committed to the organization’s vision. You can ensure that employees feel as committed to these goals as you do by giving them a strong sense of purpose. 

Offer Individual Consideration

It is important to understand that each employee is unique, has distinct skills, and will contribute to the company in their way. As a transformational leader, one should ensure that one’s team members get individual attention and consideration. This involves the leader demonstrating a genuine concern for the well-being and personal growth of each team member. 

Transformational leaders who practice individual consideration take the time to understand the unique strengths, weaknesses, and needs of their employees and provide personalized support, feedback, and coaching to help them reach their full potential. 

5 Qualities of Transformational Leaders

Transformational leaders possess multiple traits that make them effective mentors. Here are those: 

1. Self-Awareness

Transformational leaders know what they’re good at and what they need to work on. They’re always reflecting and setting goals for themselves while believing that everyone, including themselves, should be learning and improving all the time.

2. Proactive

Leaders are proactive and not passive. They make decisions that can set an example for others instead of just waiting for change to happen. By being proactive, leaders show they are taking the initiative, which can inspire others to do the same.

3. Adaptable and Innovative

Good transformational leaders know how to change with the times. They are always coming up with new ways to stay ahead of the competition. They are not afraid to change traditional methods that have worked in the past as they look toward the future.

4. Open-Mindedness

Transformational leaders need to be open to new ideas and fresh perspectives. Rather than making decisions without considering other points of view, these leaders regularly gather feedback and input from various sources. This helps them make strategic decisions that are more likely to be successful.

5. Humility

Finally, transformational leaders know that they don’t have all the answers and are okay with admitting that. They can remain confident in themselves and their abilities but also know when to put their ego aside for the sake of what’s best for their team or organization.

ALSO READ: What is Organizational Leadership and Why Should One Aim for it

Transformational Leadership: Advantages and Disadvantages

What Is Transformational Leadership

It is important to carefully consider your work environment, your employees, and your own goals before deciding if transformational leadership is the right style for you.


  • Ability to communicate new ideas
  • Maintaining a balance between long-term and short-term goals
  • Opportunity to create good collaboration with different teams 
  • Ability to establish trust
  • Chance for increased innovation and creativity
  • Happy employees who feel seen and valued


  • Poor fit for bureaucratic structures
  • There’s a chance that transformational leaders may become too focused on inspiring and motivating their team members, thus neglecting their own needs, which could lead to burnout and exhaustion 
  • Loss of focus on immediate needs
  • Transformational leaders who provide personalized attention and support to individual team members may inadvertently show favoritism 

Transformational Leadership vs. Transactional Leadership

While transformational leadership emphasizes inspiration, vision, and innovation, transactional leadership focuses on clear roles, goals, and rewards. Here is a breakdown of both styles to make it easier to understand the differences. 


The transformational leadership theory is about changing routines and patterns to find something new and better. On the other hand, transactional leadership is more focused on a directed and structured environment. 


The motivational tools of transformational leadership are enthusiasm and inspiration. For transactional leadership, motivation takes the form of rewards for achieving set goals.


Transformational leadership uses intrinsic rewards, such as esteem and pride. Transactional leadership, on the other hand, uses extrinsic rewards, such as incentives and promotions. 


In transformational leadership, authority is based on the leader’s charisma and ability to inspire, while in transactional leadership, authority is derived from the leader’s formal position and ability to offer rewards or penalties.


Transformational leadership focuses on commitment and long-term success, but transactional leadership focuses on compliance and short-term goals.

Examples of Transformational Leaders

Howard Schultz

The former CEO of Starbucks focused on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere in Starbucks stores and promoted ethical and sustainable business practices. Schultz’s transformational leadership not only led to the growth and success of Starbucks but also had a significant impact on the coffee industry and the way people think about the role of corporations in society.

Nelson Mandela

The former president of South Africa was a powerful source of inspiration.

Oprah Winfrey

The media mogul is known for her visionary, charismatic, and inspirational leadership style.

Transform with Emeritus

Transformational leadership requires effective guidance if you want to learn and enhance your leadership skills. To know more about this leadership style, enroll in Emeritus’ online leadership courses. These well-designed and comprehensive programs will ensure an insightful understanding of leadership and the approach that will work best for you. 

Write to us at content@emeritus.org

What Is Transformational Leadership

About the Author

Content Marketing Manager, Emeritus Blog
Manasa is the content ninja that every brand needs. Apart from being an expert in tech-related trends and digital marketing, she has found her calling in edtech. Her 10-year-long tryst with education started with a teaching fellowship for underprivileged children, followed by a stint as an edupreneur. It gave her the perspective she now uses to create impactful content for Emeritus. Manasa loves the life of a digital nomad that allows her to travel and hopes her reels go viral on the Gram.
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