November 23, 2022

Transformational Leadership — Building Leaders Who Build The Future

In order to build a better future, we need great leaders who can see beyond the status quo and challenge the way things are done. We need transformational leaders.

But what does it take to be a transformational leader? And how can you become one?

In this blog post, we’ll explore those questions and more. We’ll look at what transformational leadership is and offer some tips for how you can develop yourself into a more effective transformational leader.

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What Is Transformational Leadership?

Transformation leadership is a leadership style that focuses on employee satisfaction and employee engagement, empowering followers to reach their full potential. Transformation leaders have a positive effect on their followers, and they work to create an environment where psychological empowerment is valued and cultivated and where employees can contribute to organizational success.

While many leaders focus on task completion and results, the transformational leadership approach can be highly effective to motivate employees to achieve extraordinary things. And unlike other leaders, who simply tell their followers what to do, transformational leaders motivate and inspire followers to achieve more than they thought possible. They're typically passionate and charismatic, which allows them to motivate and engage employees.

Transformational leaders can also earn their employees’ admiration, respect, and trust. This creates a significant relationship between the leader and the team, which is essential for achieving success.

Additionally, transformational leadership has been shown to have a positive effect on perceived organizational support. This means that followers feel that the organization is supportive of their individual success and career development. This can include offering opportunities for training and development, as well as flexible work arrangements.

Transformational leaders also work to create and maintain an ethical climate. An ethical climate is one in which employees feel comfortable making decisions based on what they believe is right, rather than simply following orders or looking out for their own interests.

The concept of transformational leadership originated in the 1970s. It was first introduced by sociologist and leadership expert James V. Downton and expanded by another leadership expert and presidential biographer, James MacGregor Burns.

It wasn’t until 1985 that Bernard Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory emerged. In his theory, Bass' definition of transformational leadership focuses on its effects on others.

transformational leadership and communication

In today's ever-changing world, transformational leadership is more important than ever before. Transformational leaders can help individuals and large organizations alike to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing landscape. These, in turn, allow them to transform their employees into leaders.

What Are the Elements of Transformational Leadership?

According to Bernard Bass, these are the four components of transformational leadership:

Idealized Influence

Transformational leaders influence people and serve as role models for their followers. This involves setting a positive example and demonstrating high standards of leadership behavior.

Transformation leaders exhibit qualities that their followers want to emulate, such as honesty, integrity, and compassion.

Intellectual Stimulation

Transformational leaders stimulate their followers intellectually by encouraging them to think creatively and challenge assumptions. This helps followers to develop innovative solutions to problems.

Individual Consideration

Transformational leadership practices individualized consideration and takes into account the individual needs of each follower. This can involve providing emotional support, mentorship, and coaching.

Inspirational Motivation

Leaders who are transformational communicate a vision and appeal to the higher ideals of their followers. Transformational leaders also provide opportunities for their followers to grow and develop.

What Is the Difference between Transformational and Transactional Leadership?

Transformational leadership and transactional leadership are two of the most popular leadership styles.

Transformational leaders inspire and motivate others to achieve their goals, while transactional leaders focus on maintaining order and meeting deadlines.

While both styles can be effective, they have significant differences.

Transformational leaders typically create a more passionate and engaged workforce, while transactional leaders usually produce more predictable results. As a result, it's important to choose the right style of leadership for the situation.

For example, if you need to motivate a team to achieve an ambitious goal, a transformational leader would likely to have a more significant impact on employees than a transactional leader. However, if you need to maintain stability and meet specific deadlines, a transactional leader would likely be more successful.

Ultimately, the best leaders are able to adapt their style to the situation, using both transformational and transactional strategies as needed.

What Are the Leadership Skills of a Transformational Leader?

There are a number of skills that are essential for transformational leaders:

The Ability to Inspire Others

Transformational leaders must be able to inspire followers and help them see the potential for success. This requires excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

The Ability to Delegate

Transformational leaders must be able to delegate tasks and empower their followers to take on responsibility. This requires a deep understanding of each individual's strengths and weaknesses.

The Ability to Handle Pressure

Transformational leaders must be able to handle pressure and stay calm under stress. They must also be able to motivate their followers even when things are tough.

The Ability to Plan and Execute Strategies Effectively

Transformational leaders must be able to develop and execute strategies efficiently. This requires strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.

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How Do You Exhibit Transformational Leadership Style?

There are many different ways to exhibit transformational leadership style:

1. Set and Communicate a Strong Mission and Vision

Transformational leaders can’t just rely on their charisma to inspire employees. Employees need to know that their work is a valuable contribution to a larger goal. That’s why it’s so important to set a clear and strong mission and vision.

But first, it’s important to understand the difference between a mission and vision.

A mission refers to the organization’s overarching purpose. It explains why the organization or company exists. 

On the other hand, a vision shows where the company is heading and why it’s heading that way. A company’s vision can change and evolve, but its mission is more or less stable. 

Remember, it’s a lot harder to sell a product you don’t believe in (and people can usually tell), so to get employee buy-in, the leaders themselves have to be sold on this vision and mission.

Communicate your company’s mission and vision at the beginning of the hiring process. That way, your prospective employees can decide if the company’s goals are in line with their professional goals.

In addition, try to meet with each department and figure out how they can operationalize the company’s vision and mission within their roles.

For example, in what way does the Human Resource department contribute to the company’s vision and strengthen the company’s mission? It’s a great way to distinguish yet promote unity among the different teams in your company. Even if they play different roles, everyone has common goals.

transformational leadership and communication

2. Don’t Let Your Personality Limit You

If you ask experts to describe certain characteristics of transformational leaders, many of them will say that they’re charismatic. That’s why many managers shy away from this leadership style—they don’t believe that their personalities are built that way.

And while many people believe that leaders are born and not made, experts disagree. It’s possible to learn management skills and even shift between different effective leadership styles.

Awareness of your personality traits is important—it helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses. However, you must not let it limit your leadership style. It may push you out of your comfort zone, but you don’t have to change your personality to adopt new behaviors. 

Here are a few practical things you can try the next time you’re with your team members:

  • Be more present.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Dress your role.
  • Share the spotlight with others.
  • Express genuine concern for others.
  • Check your ego and self-interest.

If these things don’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. You’ll get better with enough practice. 

3. Walk the Talk

Being authentic is a key component of transformational leadership. To truly inspire and motivate others, you need to walk your talk.

If you want your team to behave in a certain way, you need to model it first. It’s very demotivating if employees believe that their leader lacks integrity. 

transformational leadership and communication

One practical tip for this is to openly admit your mistakes and shortcomings. And it’s important to do this without playing the blame game.

Remember, no one expects their leader to be perfect. Mistakes are inevitable, but they don’t have to define you. Moreover, there’s a lot to learn from mistakes, so you’re doing your team a disservice if you pretend that it didn’t happen.   

On top of that, it helps facilitate a positive relationship in your company. When you’re humble and honest, your team can laugh with you and not at you.

transformational leadership and communication

4. Put Together the Right Team

Like any other leadership style, certain scenarios work best with the transformational style. While this leadership style can work across industries, you need to consider the team composition. 

If you’re working with unskilled workers, they may require more direction and oversight. This doesn’t really go well with the level of employee autonomy that comes with this leadership style. 

So if you want to be a transformational leader, then you need to make sure you put the right team together. You’re looking for a group of people you can mentor or coach rather than train. Otherwise, you may want to try different leadership approaches.

5. Get to Know Your Team

A central feature of transformational leadership is empathy. The first step towards empathy is getting to know both your colleagues and subordinates.

Over time, try to get to know your team on different levels. While it’s important to understand everyone’s role in the company, try to make an effort to know people individually. This includes knowing a little bit about their personal goals and background. This is invaluable information. 

When you know your employees, you’re in a better position to support, encourage, and inspire them. On top of that, it also helps you come up with more meaningful rewards to better motivate them. Remember, it’s harder to get behind a leader who doesn’t seem to care about your well-being.

6. Trust Your Team

If you want your team to trust you, you have to show that you trust them. Here are some ways you can showcase your trust in your team:

  • Don’t micromanage.
  • Honor their autonomy.
  • Foster critical role or task ownership.
  • Encourage creativity and innovation.
  • Ask for suggestions regularly.

Transformational leaders are inspiring because they can empower their teams to reach their potential. When you trust your employees enough to give them the freedom to decide how to do their work, you also give them the room they need to come up with new ideas.  

transformational leadership and communication

7. Improve Communication Skills

All leaders need good communication skills, but a charismatic leader needs to have excellent and effective communication skills. They need to be able to articulate their goals with clarity and passion at the same time.  

transformational leadership and communication

A good idea can fail because of poor communication. Here are things you can do to improve your leadership communication skills:

  • Listen attentively and give people your full attention.
  • Brush up on conflict resolution techniques.
  • Create a safe environment to promote open communication.
  • Provide multiple feedback channels.

Remember, communication also goes two ways. Your team needs to know that you value and consider their input.  

8. Establish Your Company’s Culture

Company culture can seem elusive if you don’t take an active role in shaping it. It’s important to establish an environment where everyone's on the same page and works towards the common good rather than their self-interest.

Establishing your company’s culture doesn’t happen overnight. It may seem abstract and overwhelming, so here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What type of behaviors does your company reward?
  • What’s the day-to-day work environment like?
  • Do people work together or alone?
  • Does everyone know each other? Or are there cliques in your company?
  • Do you have a lot of employee turnover? What causes it?
  • What are your company perks? Do they excite your employees?
  • Are there professional growth opportunities everyone has access to? (ex: a leadership program)

Your answers will give you a sense of your company’s culture. If certain answers aren’t to your liking (or goes against your company’s mission or vision), then perhaps it’s time to change these practices. 

9. Get Help

If you can’t tell yet, transformational leadership takes a lot of effort and time. It’s more challenging to be this kind of leader when you don’t have a lot of free time.

If you’re serious about taking your team to another level though, then you may want to consider getting some extra help. For example, a virtual assistant can take a lot off of your plate. That way, you can delegate routine administrative tasks that normally take up a lot of time and focus on mentoring your team.

Research shows that employees led by transformational leaders have better performance and higher job satisfaction. If these are the sort of positive effects you want to see in your organization, then you may want to try some of these leadership behaviors.

Final Thoughts

Transformational leadership is about more than just delegating tasks and giving orders. It’s about setting a vision for your team and inspiring them to achieve it.

It takes a lot of effort to be a charismatic leader, but the payoff is worth it. If you can establish trust, empower your team, and communicate effectively, then you’ll be well on your way to becoming a transformational leader!

And if you want to take your team to the next level, don’t forget to get some help! A virtual assistant can take care of routine tasks so you can focus on leading your team. Contact us today so we can match you with the perfect virtual assistant for your business needs!


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