What is Transformational Leadership?

P.L. Hardt

Transformational leadership is a leadership style where a leader is passionate about his work and is consistently concerned with those he leads. Through a vision of change for the organization, the transformational leader aims to inspire workers throughout the company to support that vision. Not only do transformational leaders seek to change business and those they supervise, but they typically strive to change themselves, as well.

Transformational leaders are passionate about their work and consistently concerned with those who are being led.
Transformational leaders are passionate about their work and consistently concerned with those who are being led.

Both transformational and transactional leaders can be found within business culture. Transactional leaders are those that have traditional leadership qualities, such as rewarding workers for jobs well done and relaying business objectives to employees. In transformational leadership, however, leaders are charismatic individuals that drive an organization toward success — change is their primary focus in every aspect of business.

In relation to the worker, the transformational leader typically listens, resolves problems, and motivates with great enthusiasm. The transformational leadership style usually prompts the leader to work closely with employees to ensure that their needs are being met through a focus on liberty, justice, equality, and the well-being of all. A transformational leader might also call on workers to exceed goals beyond their expectations. Yet, the transformational leader typically does not demand of others what he is not willing to do himself.

The transformational leader leads by example in most cases. This type of leader serves as a role model for the workers and builds confidence in his leadership by earning their trust and admiration. His great confidence in overcoming barriers in the organization usually inspires others to do the same. Typically an individual with high moral values, the transformational leader also seeks to change himself.

Self-reflection is a key factor in how transformational leaders function. It is through an examination of the transformational leader’s own behavior and attitude on a consistent basis that he is capable of improving himself. This may include altering his beliefs when evidence dictates that change is needed, or altering the decision-making process for greater fairness within the organization.

While the transformational leader inspires others to follow his vision, he also encourages workers to identify problems and propose new solutions. Through this approach, the transformational leader typically is capable of involving everyone in the organization in the change process. Under the transformational leadership style, workers usually are never punished for their views and their intellectual contributions to business are valued.

Transformational leadership has become an important factor in industry because of the ever-changing structural and procedural processes used in business. When businesses are required to reduce staff or technology mandates that production function differently, transformational leaders can have the ability to motivate workers to accept change rather than rebel against it. Thus, the transformational leader usually is a valued part of an organization.

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