What is Transformational Leadership?

What is Transformational Leadership?

Transformational leaders are able to communicate a clear vision and share a passion for engaging in the journey – they are able to make the group they lead feel recharged and energized for the challenge ahead.

Transformational leaders win the trust of those they lead. They usually show energy, enthusiasm and passion and they want everyone in the group to succeed. 

Some military and political leaders are transformational leaders but without honesty and integrity, transformational leadership skills can be misused.

A transformational leader’s behaviour needs to be absolutely consistent and resonant with the vision, the challenge and a commitment to the well being of the group.

Transformational leadership is best accompanied by a servant leadership approach where the leader has a clear set of values and models these for those who are led. The leader needs to give the team confidence that they really can meet the goal.

The transformational leader challenges assumptions and stimulates and encourages creativity in those who follow. Those led need to understand how they can connect with the leader, the organisation and each other.

Obstacles are overcome together. The group and the leader share responsibility for the task – the leader accepts that he/she “carries the can” and team members are not “blamed” when things go.

Each person in the team is appreciated and encouraged in turn to appreciate others. The leader acts as a coach and encourages personal development in team members.

The theory of transformational leadership was introduced by James MacGregor Burns and later developed by Bernard M Bass. Bass proposed that transformational leaders succeed by gaining the trust, respect and admiration of their followers.

Bass saw four different elements working together to make up transformational leadership. These were

  • Intellectual stimulation – encouraging followers’ creativity and ingenuity
  • Support to each follower
  • The sharing of a clear and convincing vision and passion
  • The sharing of values

If you would like to read more you can find books by Burns and Bass at these links;

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason

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