Transformational leadership is a style of leadership where the leader is charged with identifying the needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of the group (followers). Transformational leadership creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.
James MacGregor Burns first introduced the concept of transforming leadership in his descriptive research on political leaders, but this term is now used in organizational psychology as well. According to Burns, transforming leadership is a process in which “leaders and followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation”.
Bernard M. Bass later developed the concept of transformational leadership further. According his 1985 book, “Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations,” a transformational leader:
- Is a model of integrity and fairness.
- Sets clear goals.
- Has high expectations.
- Encourages others.
- Provides support and recognition.
- Stirs the emotions of people.
- Gets people to look beyond their self-interest.
- Inspires people to reach for the improbable.
The Four I’s
The full range of leadership introduces four elements of transformational leadership:
1. Intellectual Stimulation – Transformational leaders challenge the status quo, encourage creativity, are receptive to exploring new ways of doing things and exploring new opportunities to learn.
2. Individualized Consideration –Transformational leaders keep lines of communication open so that followers feel free to share ideas and so that leaders can offer direct recognition of the unique contributions of each follower.
3. Inspirational Motivation – Transformational leaders have a clear vision that they are able to communicate to followers. These leaders are also able to help followers experience the same passion and motivation to fulfill these goals.
4. Idealized Influence – The transformational leader serve as a role model for followers. Because followers trust and respect the leader, they emulate this individual and internalize his or her ideals.
Tips for Becoming a Transformational Leader
1. Develop a challenging and attractive vision, together with the employees. Your vision sets out your team or organization’s purpose. If you’re developing a vision for your team, start with the company’s mission and vision, and explore the ways in which your team can contribute directly to it.
2. Tie the vision to a strategy for its achievement. Appeal to your people’s values , and inspire them with where you’re going to lead them, and why. Use business storytelling as part of your call to action to help people appreciate the positive impact of your vision on the people you’re trying to help.
3. Develop the vision, specify and translate it to actions. Combine effective project management with sensitive change management . Communicate each person’s roles and responsibilities clearly, and connect these to your plans. Set aside time to coach your people. When you help them find their own solutions, you not only create a skilled team, but you also strengthen their self-confidence and their trust in you.
4. Express confidence, decisiveness and optimism about the vision and its implementation. As a leader, you’re the one people are looking to as an example. Be confident and decisive, even if you don’t always feel it-fake it till you make it!