Sullivan and Decker (2001) define transformational leadership as “a leadership style focused on effecting revolutionary change in organizations through a commitment to the organization’s vision.”
Transformational leaders have a motivation to change the world in which they live in. They are visionaries who not only think in possibilities, but believe that those possibilities will become realities. They infuse others with enthusiasm, excitement, commitment, and a greater sense of purpose. They convert followers into leaders and leaders into moral agents!
4 CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADER
1. Idealized Influence – a major characteristic of transformational leadership. It promotes trust, admiration, loyalty, and respect amongst the team on a routine basis. Leaders who portray and apply idealized influence:
- Effectively articulate and explain the vision in an appealing manner
- Lead by example
- Act confident and optimistic
- Communicate risks
- Display a high level of ethics and moral conduct
- Gain trust, confidence, respect and admiration of their team
2. Inspirational Motivation – Transformational leaders have a way of elevating others to a higher level of needs by tapping into their interests, desires and concerns. They accomplish this by:
- Providing a practical and attainable view of the future; tapping into the imagination
- Giving their team specific objectives towards fulfilling the shared vision
- Encouraging employees to become a part of the organizational culture; stimulating teamwork
3. Intellectual Stimulation – Transformational leaders encourage change by raising the awareness of their team regarding problems and enhancing their capability to come up with solutions. Some of these ways include:
- Encouraging the critical examination of commonly held beliefs and status quo
- Creating an environment conducive to sharing of ideas and suggestions
- Encouraging innovation and creativity without fear of reprisal
4. Individualized Consideration – The transformational leader sees each person as a “whole” individual with talents and levels of knowledge. This is applied by:
- Listening to needs and concerns
- Expressing appreciation and providing public and private recognition of achievements and initiatives
- Fair workload distribution
- Career counseling and mentoring
Leadership is the critical factor in the initiation and implementation of any change process, and the Transformational style of leadership produces a positive impact on individuals, teams, and organizations during that process.
Want to know more about Leadership with Purpose and Passion? Listen to this discussion on the Zurraine Show.
References: Lievens, Filip; Van Geit, Pascal; & Coetsier, Pol. Identification of Transformational Leadership Qualities: An Examination of Potential Biases. University of Ghent, Belgium. Hay, Iain. Transformational Leadership: Characteristics and Criticisms. Flinders University.