What Is Transformational Leadership?

James V. Downton, a sociologist known for his research on charismatic leadership, activism, and new religious movements introduced the world with the concept of transformational leadership in his book, “Leadership”, which was published in 1978. His work was expanded by leadership expert and presidential biographer – James MacGregor Burns. According to Burns, transformational leadership can be seen when the leaders and his/her employees influence and push each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation.

Transformational leadership is a leadership style that can inspire and influence positive changes in those who follow. Transformational leaders are extremely energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate. Not only they are concerned and involved in the process; they are also focused on helping individual members of the team to succeed as well.


Fundamentals Practices of Transformational Leaders

James Kouzes and Barry Posner offered a notable version of a transformational leadership model in their book, “The Leadership Challenge” that was published in 1987.


The 5 Fundamental Practices of Transformational Leaders are as follows:


  • Model the Way

Transformational leaders stand up for what they believe in. Every transformational leader has a clear set of guiding principles they hold up to. To transform an individual, they must trust their own instincts and give voice to their values. Modelling the way exemplifies the clarity of personal values and building those shared values in a manner that everyone can embrace them.


  • Inspire a Shared Vision

Transformational leaders fervidly believe that they can make a difference; they have the desire to make something better, change the way things are, and create something that no else can. Transformational leaders cannot command or order commitment. They can only inspire it. What begins as “my” goals end with “our” goals.


  • Challenge the Status Quo

Transformational leaders are innovators and pathfinders. They are more than willing to step out into the unknown and take steps that are necessary for the growth of the organization and every individual who follows. They work to bring a change and the status quo is unacceptable to them.


  • Encourage the heart

A part of a transformational leaders job is to appreciate the people for their contributions and to build a culture of celebration. Encouragement can be displayed from simple gestures and actions. Transformational leaders know how to build a strong sense of collective identity and spirit that can carry the team through stormy and difficult times.


  • Enable Others to Act

Transformational leaders enable others to act. They empower the team to take decisions on their own and gain experience with the burden of responsibility and accountability of those decisions. When team members enjoy more discretion, more authority, and more information, they are more likely to use their productive energy efficiently.


How to Become a Successful Transformational Leader?

The transformational style of leadership is highly effective when it is used appropriately. But, it might not be the best choice for every situation. One way to improve your leadership skills is to assess your current leadership style and think about ways in which your strengths can benefit the team and the organization you are working in; another way is to take an online transformational leadership course. These courses guide you through the path of becoming a successful leader by providing various real-life transformational leadership examples, extensive case studies, and assignments. A certified transformational leadership course will open a lot of doors for you in the corporate world and provide ample opportunities to build a better future.


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