It doesn’t take long in the workplace to notice that there are several types of leaders. Employees are motivated, challenged, and developed in different ways by different types of leaders. Their distinct personalities can lead to a variety of outcomes.
Transformational leadership has grown to prominence in recent years. In today’s digital environment, organizations across all industries are experiencing fast change. Employees of transformational leaders are encouraged, inspired, and motivated to perform in ways that result in meaningful change.
As a result, an engaged workforce is empowered to innovate and contribute to a company’s long-term success. “What is transformational leadership, exactly?” you might question as your curiosity grows.
Transformational Leadership’s beginnings
While the ideas of transformational leadership are well-suited to today’s fast-paced, diversified, and technologically advanced workforce, the style is far from new. James MacGregor Burns, a presidential biographer and leadership expert, is credited with coining the term in the 1970s. Kevin Ford, a specialist in organizational change and leadership development, expands on Burns’ initial concept. According to Ford, there are three types of leadership styles that are effective:
Tactical leaders concentrate on using operations-oriented knowledge to solve simple challenges.
Strategic leaders have a strong sense of the future and can keep a clear vision while forecasting industry and market changes.
Transformational leaders are more concerned with encouraging organizational cooperation that can assist move a vision forward rather than making decisions or formulating strategic goals.
It’s helpful to work through the numerous components that are essential to this management style as you get a better knowledge of transformational leadership. But first, consider the distinctions between transactional and transformative leadership.
Leadership that transforms vs. leadership that is transactional
It’s crucial to realize that leaders aren’t limited to a single leadership style. Combining diverse approaches can improve organizational outcomes in many circumstances. Transformational and transactional leadership are two well-studied leadership styles, and a single leader may demonstrate variable degrees of both.
The foundation of transactional leadership is a system of transactions between the leader and each employee. Employees are rewarded with positive reinforcement when they achieve particular objectives. A good transactional leader knows how to recognize and reward achievements in a timely manner. Team members are frequently evaluated and provided feedback based on predetermined performance criteria in this leadership style. Workers aren’t always asked to think outside the box when it comes to their jobs.
Transformational leaders, on the other hand, motivate employees in ways that go beyond trades and rewards. By expressing the value and reason behind the organization’s goals, this strategy can boost a team’s intrinsic motivation.
A transformational leadership style motivates people to go above and beyond required expectations in order to achieve a common goal, whereas transactional leadership is primarily concerned with extrinsic motivation for specific job responsibilities. Leaders who learn to balance these approaches will be able to realize their maximum potential.
There are four elements to transformational leadership
When working with their staff to create effective change, transformational leaders rely on communication, charm, adaptability, and sympathetic support. In practice, there are four main components to this leadership style:
- Individualized attention – Transformational leaders pay attention to their employees’ issues and needs in order to provide the best possible support. They work on the assumption that what motivates one individual may not motivate another. As a result, they’re able to adjust their management approaches to suit the needs of different members of their team.
- Inspirational motivation – Transformational leaders may express a cohesive vision that motivates team members to go above and beyond. They recognize that personnel with a strong sense of purpose are the most driven. These executives aren’t afraid to put their people on the spot. They are capable of imparting significance to the tasks at hand while being hopeful about future ambitions.
- Transformational leaders are role models for ethical behavior. Their moral behavior gains them the required respect and trust. This can assist leaders in making decisions that benefit the entire organization.
- Transformational leaders challenge assumptions, take risks, and solicit input and ideas from their teams on a regular basis. They don’t fear failure and instead create an environment where it’s okay to talk, be innovative, and express different points of view. This allows employees to ask questions, exercise more autonomy, and eventually find more efficient ways to do their tasks.
5 Characteristics of Successful Transformational Leaders
You might be wondering what transformational leadership looks like in practice as you consider it. Blake Morgan, a senior contributor to Forbes, lists a handful of habits that strong transformative leaders share. Here are five of the most important characteristics:
- Effective transformational leaders are self-aware – Transformational leaders value personal development and are aware of their own strengths and flaws. They frequently pause to ponder and create daily or weekly objectives. These leaders think that everyone, including themselves, should be learning and growing on a continuous basis.
- They maintain an open mind – A crucial part of transformational leadership is always open to new ideas and viewpoints. Before making strategic decisions, these leaders regularly solicit feedback and suggestions from a variety of sources.
- Adaptable and imaginative leaders are the most effective transformative leaders – Good transformative leaders are aware of shifting business circumstances and are constantly looking for new methods to stay ahead of the pack. As they look to the future, they’re not scared to change old tactics that have worked in the past.
- Proactive leaders are good transformative leaders – Leaders can’t just sit back and wait for things to change. Rather, they take the initiative and make big judgments that set the tone for others to follow.
- They are humble in their leadership – Finally, transformational leaders have no problem admitting they don’t know everything. They can keep their egos in control and do what’s best for their team or organization while remaining confident in their goals and talents.
Make a positive difference as a transformational leader
You can see how beneficial transformational leadership can be now that you understand the foundations. You’ll be able to answer both “What is transformational leadership?” and “Why is it effective?” You might even be considering some practical methods to put this approach into reality!