What is Transformational Leadership and Why is it Effective?

Have you ever wondered how someone in a group is passionate, can easily take control of the situation, and expresses a clear vision of the group’s goals? How that person makes the whole group feel motivated, enthusiastic, and recharged?
That person is showing leadership traits.
An effective leadership strategy distinguishes a company that thrives and one that fails. Amongst other styles of leadership, transformational leadership has gained immense popularity. This style can help bring positive changes in attitude, thinking and approach.

The business world is getting increasingly complex and fast-paced. Evolving social and political landscape, hi-tech developments, and hybrid working models have made the job quite difficult for leaders. To succeed in a swiftly changing work environment, you need more than basic leadership skills. You will need to juggle numerous leadership styles throughout the day to accomplish goals. That is why transformational leadership is essential, as it deals with change and perception.

Transformational leaders always stand out due to their unique approach to things. Some examples include Steve Jobs (Apple), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Reed Hastings(Netflix), Billy Beane (Major League Baseball), Henry Ford (Ford Motors), Nelson Mandela and many more.

Let’s explore more about what is transformational leadership, the components of transformational leadership, transactional leadership, and leadership meaning.

What is transformational leadership?

Transformational leadership is a type of leadership in which leaders encourage and motivate followers to innovate and embrace positive change to grow and shape the organization’s future success. This kind of leadership approach brings meaningful changes in people and social systems.

The origins of transformational leadership

After understanding what transformational leadership is, now it’s time to look at its origin.
Though principles of transformational leadership are well suited for today’s highly evolving, fast-paced, and technological workforce, this style dates back in history. James V. Downtown was the first to introduce the concept of transformational leadership in 1973. A historian and political scientist, James MacGregor Burns, further expanded this idea in 1978. His work has been continued and further developed by other researchers, including industrial expert in organizational behaviour and leadership, Dr. Bernard M. Bass, and now often referred to as Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory. He also included ways to measure transformational leadership success. According to Bernard M. Bass, transformational leadership can be defined based on the impact that it has on followers.
Transformational leadership focuses on inspiring others to follow, and a high degree of coordination, communication, and cooperation are essential for this leadership style.

Transformational leadership vs. transactional leadership

Both transformational and transactional leadership are essential.

  • Transformational leadership focuses on people and inspires them to follow and bring real change. On the other hand, transactional leadership primarily focuses on tasks, processes, and control.
  • Transformational leadership takes care of initiatives that add value, whereas transactional leaders ascertain that routine work is accomplished reliably.
  • Transformational leadership is a proactive leadership style, whereas transactional leadership is a responsive one.
  • The transformational style is about winning hearts and minds, encouraging, inspiring, and motivating, whereas transactional leadership is about following rules, rewards and punishments.

4 Components of transformational leadership

Leaders can excel further at what they do by understanding leadership meaning and using four aspects of transformational leadership. Components of transformational leadership include:

  • Individualized Consideration
  • Intellectual Stimulation
  • Inspirational Motivation
  • Idealized Influence of leaders

And each of these components of transformational leadership is positively related to individual and organizational performance.

5 Traits successful transformational leaders have in common

Core leadership attributes such as good judgment, communication skills, confidence, interpersonal skills, and competence are essential for every leader.  Another level of traits is a must-have for transformational leadership.  Some of the traits successful transformational leaders have in common include-

  • Keep Their Egos in Check– Transformational leaders have a clear vision, but they are humble enough and keep egos in check and don’t boss people around. They are good listeners who hear ideas with an open mind, and respond without judgment or conclusiveness. They keep learning and growing instead of thinking about personal gains, they let others also thrive and drive the team towards the best performance company-wide.
  • Adaptability– Leaders must be agile enough to understand changing dynamics and quickly recognize and adjust to changing circumstances and overcome challenges. Leaders see opportunities when others see problems in a situation.
  • Self-Management– Transformational leaders are capable of prioritizing, choosing a course of action, making decisions, and taking responsibility for the consequences.
  • Integrity– Transformational leaders honour commitments and keep promises. They build trust and set an example, and this credibility is impactful in driving organizational changes.
  • Receptive to new ideas– Meaningful change is only possible if a leader is receptive to new thinking. An open mindset, welcoming new thinking, and incorporating insights can help build trust and drive the organization towards success.

The transformational leadership approach has plenty of distinct advantages.  With the changing social landscapes and evolving technological conditions, embracing the changes is integral.  If you are passionate and have a strong vision for the future, then acquiring transformational leadership know-how with leadership and management courses can spell benefits in the long run.

Emeritus India offers a wide range of leadership and management courses and programmes in collaboration with reputed universities to help people lead and influence others with exclusive skill sets effectively. Understand ‘what is transformational leadership?’ and discover how you can acquire skills to succeed by enrolling in various leadership programmes or advanced management courses offered by top universities.

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