So much is written about leadership styles and the type of leaders that are in high demand today. So what is the difference between transformational leadership and transactional ones?

Transformational leadership is a leadership style that focuses on inspiring and motivating followers to achieve exceptional performance and personal growth. It goes beyond transactional leadership, which is based on a simple exchange of rewards and punishments. Instead transformational leadership emphasizes the leader’s ability to create a vision, foster positive relationships, and stimulate intrinsic motivation in their team.

At the core of transformational leadership is the leader’s ability to articulate a compelling vision that inspires and aligns the team towards a common goal.

Take Sara’s transformational leadership as an example

Sarah worked in a small manufacturing company. When she took over as the CEO of the struggling company, morale was at an all-time low. Employees were disengaged and productivity was declining. However, Sarah saw the untapped potential within the organization and knew that she could make a difference.

First and foremost, Sarah set a compelling vision for the company’s future. She painted a vivid picture of success, emphasizing the importance of collaboration, creativity, and customer satisfaction. Her unwavering belief in the company’s potential was infectious, and employees began to see new possibilities.

Sarah actively fostered a culture of empowerment. She encouraged team members to voice their ideas, take risks, and challenge the status quo. She created forums for open dialogue and ensured that everyone felt heard and valued. By promoting intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration, Sarah inspired her employees to think innovatively and take ownership of their work.

Sarah led by example, embodying the values and qualities she sought in her team. She worked alongside her employees, showing dedication, integrity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Eventually the company began to thrive. Productivity soared, innovation flourished, and employee engagement reached unprecedented levels. Sarah’s leadership had unlocked the hidden potential within each employee, creating a cohesive and high-performing team.

Inspired by her example, employees became leaders themselves, not just within their professional lives but also in their communities. They embraced the TIGERS 6 Principles of collaboration — trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success — becoming agents of transformation in their own right.

Through her empowerment and exemplary leadership, Sarah’s legacy not only transformed a company but the lives of those she led. Her story is a testament to the immense power of transformational leadership to shape a better future for individuals, organizations, and society as a whole.

Let’s unpack this. What is required to be a transformational leader?

To be a transformational leader, eight key qualities and practices are required:

  • Vision and Inspiration

Transformational leaders have a clear vision of the future and can articulate it in an inspiring way. They inspire and motivate others to share in the vision and work towards its achievement.

  • Genuineness and Integrity

Transformational leaders lead by example and demonstrate genuineness and integrity in their actions. They are consistent in their words and deeds, earning the trust and respect of their followers.

  • Emotional Intelligence

Transformational leaders possess high emotional intelligence, allowing them to understand and empathize with the emotions and needs of their team members. They effectively manage relationships, promote collaboration, and create a positive work environment.

  • Empowerment and Development

Transformational leaders empower their team members by delegating responsibilities and providing them with the necessary support and resources. They foster personal and professional growth, encouraging individuals to reach their full potential and best versions of themselves.

  • Communication and Influence

Transformational leaders are skilled communicators. They effectively convey their vision, goals, and expectations to their team members. They listen actively, encourage open dialogue, and use their influence to inspire and persuade others.

  • Innovation and Risk-Taking

Transformational leaders encourage innovation and creativity within their teams. They foster an environment where ideas are valued, and they promote calculated risk-taking through team decision-making, planning and plan execution to drive growth and continuous improvement.

  • Collaboration and Team Building

Transformational leaders emphasize collaboration and teamwork. They build strong relationships among team members, promote a sense of belonging, and facilitate cooperation towards shared goals.

  • Continuous Learning and Adaptability

Transformational leaders are committed to their own personal and professional development. They continuously seek opportunities to learn, grow, and adapt to changing circumstances and market conditions.

Becoming a transformational leader requires self-reflection, ongoing development, and a genuine commitment to serving and empowering others. By embodying these qualities and practices, individuals can make a profound impact on their teams and organizations, driving meaningful and lasting change.

Transformational leadership behavior

Transformational leadership is a leadership style characterized by inspiring and motivating followers to achieve exceptional performance and personal growth. These are leaders who embody the TIGERS 6 Principles of trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success. Beyond this, transformational leaders exhibit several other key behaviors:

  • Visionary Thinking: They have a clear vision of the future and communicate it effectively to inspire others.
  • Inspirational Motivation: They inspire and motivate their followers by setting high expectations, expressing optimism, and providing a compelling purpose.
  • Intellectual Stimulation: They encourage creativity, innovation, and critical thinking among their team members, challenging them to explore new ideas and approaches.
  • Individualized Consideration: They show genuine care and support for the individual needs and development of their followers, providing mentorship and guidance.
  • Idealized Influence: They serve as role models, embodying desirable qualities and values that their followers aspire to emulate.

Transformational leaders have a significant impact on their followers, leading to increased job satisfaction, higher levels of performance, and personal growth. By empowering their team members and fostering a collaborative and innovative environment, they drive positive change and contribute to the long-term success of their organizations.

Why do some executives degrade the significance of transformational leadership?

There can be several reasons why some leaders may degrade the significance of transformational leadership.  However, for this example, let’s explore the following five reasons:

  1. Lack of Understanding: Some leaders may not fully understand the concept and benefits of transformational leadership. They might view it as a soft or idealistic approach that lacks practicality or measurable outcomes. Without a deep understanding of the research and evidence supporting transformational leadership, these leaders may underestimate its potential impact.
  2. Resistance to Change: Transformational leadership often requires a shift in leadership style and mindset. Some leaders may be resistant to change and prefer to stick to more traditional or autocratic approaches. They may feel uncomfortable relinquishing control and empowering their team members, fearing that it might undermine their authority or result in loss of control.
  3. Short-Term Focus: In some cases, leaders may prioritize short-term results and immediate goals over long-term transformation and development. They might believe that transactional leadership, which focuses on exchanging rewards and punishments for performance, is more effective in driving immediate outcomes. However, they may overlook the long-term benefits of transformational leadership, such as increased employee engagement, loyalty, and sustainable performance.
  4. Organizational Culture: The prevailing culture within an organization can also influence leaders’ perceptions of leadership styles. If the organizational culture values conformity, obedience, and a hierarchical structure, transformational leadership may be seen as disruptive or incompatible. In such environments, leaders may be discouraged or discouraged from adopting transformational leadership practices.
  5. Personal Insecurities: Some leaders may feel threatened by the empowerment and development of their team members. They may fear that nurturing a culture of transformational leadership could diminish their own importance or reveal their own shortcomings. This can lead to resistance or attempts to downplay the significance of transformational leadership.

It is important to note that while some leaders may degrade the significance of transformational leadership, many others recognize its value and embrace its principles. Organizations and leaders who prioritize long-term success, employee development, and creating positive work environments where trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success are measurably of high quality in group process reap numerous benefits. They are also more likely to appreciate and adopt transformational leadership approaches. These approaches unleash the key principles and practices for inspiring change with legacy outcomes like Sarah’s.

Care to take this transformational leadership conversation deeper?

The following resources provide additional information and training on the TIGERS 6 Principles and Transformational Leadership:

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

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