Transformational leadership theory aim at effectively introducing permanent and sustainable change in an organization. This theory was created by James McGregor Burns in 1978 (Whetten Cameron, 2015). He noted that leaders and followers should develop each other’s skills, motivation, and ethics, for them to be more productive and efficient in their work. Therefore, a transformative leader is usually able to demonstrate positive virtues and to influence his/her followers.
A transformative leader always has desirable characters, which he/she uses to influence his/her followers. Accordingly, these leaders usually demonstrate integrity and fairness in their activities, are team-oriented and can encourage the formation of teamwork in their departments (Whetten Cameron, 2015). Additionally, they can coach their followers, inspire creativity by challenging ideas, and they also make their colleagues look beyond their interests (Whetten Cameron, 2015). Given the ability of transformational leadership to influence positive change, it is most appropriate in organizations that are already in operation but are not performing at their full potential due to weak systems.
The transformative leadership has four principles: idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and individualized consideration (Humphrey, 2014). With regards to the element of idealized influence, a leader should have a charismatic personality so that he can influence his/her followers (Humphrey, 2014). Normally, charismatic leaders are always risk takers, principled, and follow their core values. Their desire to succeed and their example of proper leadership usually makes their followers to trust have confidence in them.
Another element of transformational leadership is intellectual stimulation. Transformative leaders always value the creativity and autonomy of their followers (Humphrey, 2014). As a result, they involve them in the decision-making process of their departments or organizations. Further, this act stimulates their followers to be creative and innovative to identify possible solutions for various work-related activities. The leaders also challenge the assumptions made by their followers and seek ideas from them, which makes these individuals participate in the management and operation of the organization. Accordingly, the followers embrace the organization’s vision and work to achieve it.
The element of inspirational motivation required transformative leaders to encourage their followers to be more diligent in their work. In this case, the leader has a duty of making his/her followers confident, and also creating their sense of purpose in the organization. The leader normally informs his followers about the organization’s vision (Humphrey, 2014). Additionally, he/she informs them about his/her expectations of them. Furthermore, by demonstrating proper leadership skills, transformative leaders are able to inspire their followers. The leader must also have proper communication skills that will enable him to be persuasive, command authority, and inspire change. Finally, he/she must be optimistic, enthusiastic, and be able to point out positive achievements of his/her team.
The final element of transformative leadership is an individualized consideration. A transformative leader should be able to identify the specific needs and desires of his/her followers (Humphrey, 2014). In this case, he/she should observe, eavesdrop, or inquire about the things that motivate each of his/her teammates. Further, he/she must meet his/her followers often to understand their development needs, and also assist them to attain their career development goals. The leader can also build trust with his/her followers by having open, honest, and confidential interactions with them. Finally, he/she should always allocate enough time to coach them so that they can improve their skills, and become more self-confident.
Humphrey, R. (2014). Effective leadership: Theory, cases, and applications. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Whetten, D., & Cameron, K. (2015). Developing management skills (9th ed.). London, UK: Pearson.