Transformational leadership is a management style that inspires people and drives positive change in novel and sometimes profound ways.
In Marazanos "School Leadership that works" the behavioral traits of a transformational leader are characterized by four factors, namely, individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized influence". The following characteristics of transformational leadership are based on these four factors.
The Ten Characteristics of Transformational Leadership
- Keep their egos in check
- Ability to take the right risks and Make difficult decisions
- Share Collective Organizational Consciousness and inspire those around them
- Entertain New Ideas/Trust in Team Members
- Ability to Inspire Innovation and Intellect
- Ability to Adapt Quickly and Easily
- Positive and Responsive Approach
- Lead With Vision
Keep their egos in check
When they are in a position of power, it is easy to let your ego take over. Transformational leaders, on the other hand, keep their ego in check and do not let that get in the way of doing what is best for business. Good leadership qualities include sharing credit so that everyone is recognized for their efforts. Transformational leaders also recognize the importance of accepting criticism with grace rather than passing the buck or blaming others for their shortcomings.
An exceptional leader seeks to share the spotlight with those who deserve it. They openly acknowledge their flaws and work to improve or balance them. Of course, they do not sit back and let others insult or denigrate them. Instead, they draw strength from their talents and use them to overcome their flaws.
Checking your ego ensures that you prioritize the company over personal gain and encourages the best input from others within the organization – because when the company succeeds, you as a leader succeed as well. (Hogg).
Capability to take calculated risks and make difficult decisions
Transformational leaders conquer irrational fears and analyze risks regarding challenges, abilities, and organizational vision. They must be able to make tough decisions in the face of these possible risks. A transformational leader must be willing to contemplate some of these risks and what else they might imply for the organizations overall future. There is no transformation without some risk of failure.
If the advantages outweigh the risks of an idea, the leader also needs to decide to follow it further if it appears attainable. The leader must also recognize when the risk outweighs the benefits, and a different strategy is required.
The team of a transformational leader is right behind them, conducting the necessary research to assess the situation properly.
A Transformational leaders critical decisions can destroy existing business and shift the organization away from its tried-and-true methods. They may disrupt daily operations, abandon the playbook, and question the status quo. Transformational leaders do not avoid difficult decisions because of the risks mentioned and do not lose sight of the organizations vision and mission.
Share Collective Organizational Consciousness and inspire those around them
A transformational leader shares and comprehends the organizations collective consciousness. This makes them especially sensitive to their team members emotions and gives them a clear idea of strategies to elicit desired actions from employees. Because they are connected to the organizational consciousness, they can make decisions that promote growth while also creating a shared vision for the organization that all employees feel a part of. This helps employees feel their contribution to the organization is important and may inspire them.
People are looking to be inspired. Transformational leaders are among the most uplifting. They can inspire others to step up to the challenge. Their approach to motivation is not limited to formal recognition of a job well done; rather, they treat each employee as a valuable person and try to know what compels them. (Yscouts).
Entertain New Ideas/Trust in Team Members
If the leader is not open to new ideas, transformation is unlikely to happen. Transformational leaders recognize that success is reliant on the deep and profound efforts of the entire team, and that growth occurs only in organizations that are open to new things — whether top-down or bottom-up.
Managers with inspirational motivation encourage team spirit to reach goals of increased revenue and market growth for the organization. (D.Farnsworth et al.)
People require the freedom to develop and shape new ideas. The transformational leader recognizes this and trusts team members to chart their course to success.
Ability to Inspire Innovation and Intellect
For development to occur, it must be embedded in a teams culture. The transformational leader must expect creativity from all members of the team, not just one or two people that bring the ideas. The role of the leader is to serve as an example of universal creativity and innovation.
The worlds best leaders, in any setting, thrive at challenging peoples preconceived notions, among other things. They don't need the most extensive vocabulary in the world, but they do need the public speaking skills to help people ask old questions in new and different ways, or ask entirely new kinds of questions about their work and the world in which they do it.(Craig).
The transformational leader must understand peoples motivations and persuade them to go beyond their comfort zone. This necessitates two distinct abilities: empathy and the ability to inspire confidence. (Michigan State University. 2021).
Ability to Adapt Quickly and Easily
Transformational leaders are always looking for new ways to respond to a constantly changing business environment. They understand that the second they stop, their competitors will pass them, implying that they are adaptable and lifelong learners. (Hogg. 2015).
A leaders ability to adapt indicates that they are more open to change. Transformational leaders, more than most, can think differently about the present situation. Where others may see only a problem, they see new avenues. They are experts at reframing an issue, always asking themselves, "What if the reverse were true?" They readily take up the challenge, seeking more inventive responses to the ever-changing business environment.
Positive and Responsive Approach
The ability to be responsive provides transformational leaders with two distinct advantages. First, being active and responsive assists them in managing risk and avoiding problems by identifying issues early on. Second, being positive enables them to turn obstacles into opportunities. This type of leadership can result in creative solutions to problems that the customer may not even be aware of.
Transformational leaders do not wait for others to make decisions before reacting. They are willing to take risks, try new things, and think creatively about how to grow the organization. They also understand how to manage risk and make well-thought-out decisions based on research and multiple insights.
Related: Transformational Leadership Theory
Lead With Vision
Transformational leaders establish an inspiring yet realistic and achievable vision for the organization. They are skilled at mobilizing others to effect the necessary change that will result in a different outcome. To do so, they must communicate while cultivating a sense of purpose, commitment, and belonging. Transformational leaders can guide the organization in a direction that will increase the company's long-term viability once they have buy-in to the common vision.
Any innovator who ventures into uncharted territory must be willing to own the results of doing so, good or bad. No leader inspires confidence if they demand that others take the fall when an idea fails. Transformational leaders must assume responsibility for each of their decisions, including green lighting the ideas of others. (Michigan State University).
Leaders feel the need to hold themselves personally responsible for the cause. When leaders are held responsible by the organization, they can hold others accountable for supporting the organization in meeting aims and expectations.
Being accountable and holding others accountable is two-fold in transformational leadership. Holding yourself accountable is Idealized Influence, and holding others accountable a key component of the high expectations in Inspirational Motivation, (Wink. 2021).
If you want to inspire those around you to support you and the organization, you must exude loyalty and dedication to the long-term vision. Above all, cultivate buy-in.
The mission of the organization must be coherent with yours, and you must be able to sell it convincingly to the people on whom you rely. This is not the same as blind loyalty; loyalty to an organization also implies an openness to admitting its flaws.(Craig)
Transformational leaders typically do not require others to set their direction. They can prioritize, choose a course of action, and be accountable for the results. They also know how to use their internal motivation to energize those around them. These leaders do what they enjoy, and their values align with those of the organizations they lead.
Natasha Chimphondah is an organizational development consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
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