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Transformational Leadership Theory

Transformational leadership is a leadership theory where a leader works with followers to identify the changes needed, create a vision and execute the change with the group of followers.

Author: Arthur Lankester
February 14th, 2022

As the world continues to change, organisations are bound to face challenges. To keep up, organisations need transformational leaders–people who can inspire and drive their workforce to effectively deal with any change or obstacle, be it in their personal or professional life. However, organisational transformation also presents a challenge to organisations. Studies show that only 25% of companies that venture into transformational change are successful both in increasing workforce productivity and in achieving a sustainable transition.
To make the transformations successful, organisations must focus on three (3) essential factors. Organisations must create an environment that encourages transparency and open communication. They should develop leaders who embody the values of the organisation and display traits that others can look up to and emulate. These leaders should be able to communicate the organisation’s vision, encourage people to share this vision, and help them realise how significant their roles are in achieving it.

4 dimensions of Transformational Leadership

1. Idealized Influence: Walk the Talk

Transformational leaders serve as role models for individuals and teams. They exemplify strong work ethic and demonstrate the values of the organisation, encouraging others to follow suit. To gain the trust and respect of those under their leadership, leaders must do as they say. Transformational leaders lay down the rules and follow them as well. They prioritise what’s best for the team and the organisation rather than self-interest. When employees see positive behaviour and genuine intention from their leaders, they would gravitate towards them and emulate their conduct.

2. Inspirational Motivation: Power of Positivity

Transformational leaders share the vision and mission of the organisation with passion. They build a roadmap for collaborative effort that leads to the attainment of these goals. Transformational leaders are also transparent about the obstacles they may encounter along the way while encouraging employees to remain resilient and optimistic. This behaviour allows leaders to connect emotionally with peers and employees, which would foster team spirit, enthusiasm, and productivity. As inspiring motivators, transformational leaders can help tap the hidden skills of the employees, allowing them to hone and utilise these skills to achieve the desired results.

3. Intellectual Stimulation: Getting out of the Comfort Zone

Transformational leaders encourage people to think outside the box, take risks, and look at things from all angles. They challenge employees to explore new ways of completing tasks and seek different methods of solving problems. This leadership style cultivates creativity, innovation, analytical thinking, and the attitude of being more receptive to change.

4. Individualized Consideration: Connect and Engage

Transformational leaders act as mentors, coaching and empowering team members and individuals. If a team member experiences setbacks or failures, transformational leaders offer support and encouragement and provide suggestions on how the employee can improve.

Transformational leaders also recognize skills, talents, and achievements to boost their team’s confidence and engagement. They also keep communication lines open to encourage team members to share opinions, ideas and concerns, which inspires an honest and transparent environment.


Transformational leadership vs. traditional manager

Transformational leadership focuses on change, creativity, and forward-thinking. Transformational leaders use a proactive approach in managing their team. They inspire individuals to identify with the organisation’s vision and goals and challenge them to think of ways on how they can work together to attain success. Transformational leaders act under moral and ethical standards to set a good example and gain trust and respect.

Meanwhile, traditional management puts emphasis on structure and processes. Transformational leaders motivate people by rewarding them for completing tasks or setting consequences for substandard performance. This leadership style is reactive, where leaders respond to challenges or situations as they come.

Below are the typical characteristics of transformational leaders, in comparison to traditional managers.

Characteristics of a Transformational leader

  • Inspires and embraces change
  • Articulates the company’s vision and mission
  • Creates strategies to drive the vision and achieve the mission of the company
  • Puts forward a proactive approach in solving problems
  • Encourages people to develop a curious and creative mindset
  • Fosters collaboration and open communication
  • Allows people to make their own decisions and be accountable
  • Mentors team members to nurture positive development
  • Exemplifies high moral conduct and encourages others to follow
  • Exhibits a team-first attitude

Characteristics of a Traditional manager

  • Gives direction and provides feedback on completed tasks
  • Works within an established set of guidelines, policies, and procedures
  • Focuses on performance or output
  • Maintains the normal flow of business operations or status quo
  • Motivates people through perks and rewards
  • Handles problems as they arise

Qualities of an Effective Transformational Leader

Transformational leaders play an important role in driving organisations, teams and employees toward a successful and sustainable transition. To do this they must possess and form essential qualities and habits.

Greater sense of self-awareness

Transformational leaders not only recognise the areas where they excel, but also the traits they need to improve. They continue to seek ways to develop their skills and motivate others to do the same.

Receptive to other people’s ideas and feedback

Effective transformational leaders value the importance of working collaboratively to overcome challenges and achieve goals. They nurture an atmosphere where people can openly share their views, opinions and constructive criticisms

Lead with humility

Transformational leaders believe in their capability to lead, but they are also confident enough to accept their limitations. They put the well-being of their teams and the organisation above personal interest or advantage.

Always look beyond the present

Successful transformational leaders sustain a ready-before-it-happens mindset. They anticipate change and create strategies that enable their team to deal with any issue before it becomes a bigger problem.

Ready to Make the Shift to Transformational Leadership?

Transformational leadership is beneficial to organisations, no matter what type of industry. It also applies to individuals at all levels in the organisation. In the rapidly changing local and global business landscape, your company and workforce must be ready to face any obstacle or problem that may hinder you from achieving success. To learn more our methodology, read the Framework for Adult Leadership Development.

At Awarego, we offer leadership training programmes and e-learning courses that can help you transform leaders and employees. Visit us here for more information about our services.


Arthur Lankester

Arthur Lankester is a passionate trainer and coach helping individuals and organisations in developing ‘transformational capabilities’. Simply said, Arthur help’s people to develop skills to go through complex personal or organizational changes’. Arthur is graduated (Msc.) Psychologist and Master of Business Administration.

At Awarego

We offer leadership development coaching that is backed by scientifically-proven methodology, that can help you create developmental heat as well as train your leaders who are proactively seeking heat.

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