‘‘Becoming a leader is not easy,
just as becoming a doctor or a poet isn’t easy, and anyone who
claims otherwise is fooling himself.’’ ~ Warren Bennis, author and
Throughout history, many unique and
have come and gone. However, these leaders all have one thing in
common – they all exhibited a
transformational leadership style. Some examples of great
leaders throughout time that utilised these transformational
leadership techniques include
Socrates, Florence Nightingale, Andrew Carnegie, Winston
Jack Welch, Oprah Winfrey, and the list goes on...
One of the more famous people to
utilize a transformational leadership style was
Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi is a great example of this style of
leadership as he was highly effective at satisfying the needs of his
people – yet he always led with a higher purpose and the greater
good in mind.
That said, we are often witnesses to
transformational leadership on an everyday basis. For instance, we
can witness the transformational leadership through:
parents utilise a transformational leadership style. They can
essentially transform a self-centred child into becoming a child
that is thoughtful, considerate and respectful of others.
– the very job of a religious leader involves using transformational
leadership tactics. While some individuals may be tougher cases than
others, the overall goal is to transform people into ethical beings.
entrepreneurs must seek to
fund their ventures and to
buy their products or services. In essence, entrepreneurs must
use a transformational leadership style to see their business grow
in the proper manner.
– Without a doubt, coaches exhibit a transformational leadership
style in order to both teach a skill set and to
people. Coaches must also learn to teach people the value of
perseverance as there most likely will be set-backs.
That said, transformational
leadership, itself, was first used by a Political Scientist named
James McGregor Burns in 1978. Specifically, Burns said that
transformational leadership occurs when “one or more persons engage
with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one
another to higher levels of motivation and morality… transforming
leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the level of
human conduct and ethical aspirations of both the leader and led
and, thus, has a transforming effect on both."
Thus, within transformational
leadership, importance is placed on the relationship between both
followers and the leaders. Transformational leaders let their
values, and the values of others in the organisation, influence
their actions. In turn, both the leaders and the followers then
create a shared behaviour. Further, transformational leaders
others and distribute this power among all of the people.
Of course, transformational leadership
is quite different from a more traditional top-down leadership
approach. For instance, transformational leaders believe that
is not a “job” but instead leadership is part of who they in fact
are. In addition, transformational leadership does not rely on
exhibiting power over people, but it instead relies on empowering
and enabling other people. Lastly, transformational leadership also
centres on offering a mutually beneficial relationship – instead of
one where followers blindly complete tasks for leaders out of fear.
Transformational leadership can also
be used successfully in business environments that can include
lawyers, environmental consultants, professionals that handle
managed forex accounts, and other professions. Often,
transformational leaders within a business environment look to
change behaviours and processes for the long term.
Instead of only thinking about the
short-term value to stake holders, transformational leaders also
believe that you should think about the employees, suppliers,
shareholders and the community at large. They believe that when you
look after all of the individuals, everyone will benefit.
That said, most businesses do not
currently have transformational leaders on staff. Instead, most
business leaders exhibit transactional leadership. Transactional
leadership, among other things, focuses on a reward/punishment
system when dealing with followers. While a leader using this style
of leadership can be influential, little change will actually occur
under this type of leadership. Why? Well, people with the
transactional leadership skill set often operate under the mindset
of “that is how we do things here” rather than “the way things
should be done”. In other words then, transactional leadership
encourages the “status quo”.
Over the years, a couple of
intellectuals have studied how transformational leadership works.
Two of the most important contributors to the study of
transformational leadership were named James McGregor Burns and
Bernard Bass. Let us discuss Bernard Bass – Bass believed that
transformational leadership was made up of four different
behavioural components. These behavioural components included
charisma, inspiration, and intellectual stimulation and
Charisma – Charisma is
usually defined as the ability for leader to trigger emotions in
their followers that allow them to identify with that particular
– The leader is able to gain the trust and respect of his or her
followers – and also able to provide an outstanding picture of the
future that the followers identify with. In turn, the people have a
common commitment and goal to work towards.
– Inspiration is defined as the ability for the leader to stimulate
the mind or emotions of his or her followers into performing a
specific activity. For instance, the leader can utilise symbols to
get the focus of followers and can communicate that he or she has
high expectations for everyone. Moreover, the leader can also “lead
– Intellectual stimulation involves encouraging followers to use
their intelligence to become
creative problem solvers.
– Individualised consideration involves the process where leaders
show appreciation for their followers on an individual basis. This
individual attention can include providing one-on-one attention,
personal support, and praise to individual followers.
That said, in order for people to
become excellent transformational leaders, they must be able to be
themselves, gain the proper mindset, exhibit
and be able to continually learn new skills.
Overall then, the most well-known
leaders throughout history used a transformational leadership style.
Today’s business leaders, can benefit from learning about both these
individuals and specific transformational leadership techniques.