What Is Transformational Leadership

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James MacGregor Burns, a leadership expert and presidential biographer introduced the concept of transformational leadership. So what is transformational leadership? This is a leadership style that seems to be taking off more across the county. Basically it is defined as when leadership and followers have a mindset and execute in a way that make each other advance to a higher level of motivation, moral, and performance. By using the strength of the vision they see and using an inspiring personality, transformational leaders are able to change the consciousness, expectations, perceptions, and motivation of their followers to work towards achieving a common goal.

Now compare transformational leadership with that of transactional leadership. The latter is where rewards and punishments are contingent upon the performance of each member of the team. This is the more traditional leadership structure we see in Corporate America. The business views the relationship as a manager over employee exchanging work for pay. If the employee performs well, then they receive a reward. If they perform poorly, then they are punished in some way. While this leadership structure can certainly get work done, it results mostly in just having employee's that could care less about the business and never usually grow in their positions.This is how transformational leadership is a smarter approach to business because you are evolving your employee into someone that is more conscious and better able to adapt and grow.

Here are some cons to transformational leadership:

  • Causes followers to feel a more powerful identification and strong emotion toward the leadership team and business in general
  • Promotes powerful high value models and inspiring communication that arouse a greater employee effort and the feeling of belonging to a team
  • Provides coaching, support, and overall encouragement to each follower on the team allowing for growth and maturity opportunities
  • Influences people to view problems from a fresh perspective and with a new increased awareness and problem solving approach
  • Grows employee self confidence and gives them a new sense of personal empowerment

What does a leader that approaches his management style through a mindset focused on transforming individuals act like? They focus on the overall organization and company culture and find ways to give the right type of attention to priorities and concerns while maturely reacting to crisis situations that come up. While at the same time being a solid role model and coach to individuals and helping everyone define a clear criteria for a successful business strategy. They are not scared of change and understand that for anything to grow, change must be present inside its heart. A leader with this attitude will do everything they can to make sure that the behaviors the business expresses is congruent with its beliefs, principles, and values.

Transformational leadership is ultimately about coaching each individual in your organization and the business as a whole to become greater than it currently is. It provides a good self awareness mentality that keeps constant pressure on old ways of doing things and ultimately forces people to have to think a different thought about a problem or situation. This new thought will then hopefully start to break down the belief structure and generate new ideas and methods of solving problems. There can be a spiritual aspect to this method but usually it is just a healthy dose of personal reflection and empowerment.


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Author Christiaan Stoudt

Christiaan focuses on transformation by helping businesses and individuals strategically evolve past their limiting paradigms allowing them achieve their true success and growth potential.

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