What does it Mean to be Transformational Leader

Most of the time the word leadership is thought of it in the simplest meaning of the term, which is somebody who leads others. Leadership involves so much more than just ability to lead someone else. Somebody can lead others to the classroom but would they consider them a leader? In order to lead somebody needs to be able to demonstrate, meaning they need to lead by example. As a leader one should also be able to affectively navigate, which means they need to provide the map and be able to follow it. That still doesn’t cut it, a leader needs to be able to influence others and get them to engage in a worthy cause, which means they must also have to be able to connect to those they are leading.

Leadership is no easy feat and it requires a tight grasp on the qualities needed. Having a good understanding of leadership is valuable as well as understanding how to implement that knowledge. Some leadership styles have been molded that way by your life but other parts of it have or can be learned. In the following paragraphs I’m going to explore what transformational leadership is as well as how it is used. Transformational Leadership is an exceptional example of a type of leadership that anybody can use. Transformational leaders not only create change in the area it is being implemented but it also creates a significant change in the individual, therefore creating leaders from those who were originally followers. In the following paragraphs transformational leadership will be discussed along with why it is a good approach to leadership.

The definition of transformational leadership is defined as “A leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems. And in it’s ideal form it creates a valuable positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders. Being able to adapt, as well as being assertive, along with being conscientious, and also being intelligent are all good qualities of a very strong leader. A productive person that is proactive wont limit themselves and what they can do to affect their specific circumstances but instead use it as an opportunity to demonstrate their character and grow with at the same time and a transformational leader will be able to help this type of follower become a leader. It is important to understand that although experts believe that these qualities are important aspects of a good transformational leader they are not limited to those specific ones.

Many experts have varying opinions on what qualities or skills that a transformational leader should possess, however most do agree that being able to transform their followers into leaders is the key factor. Transformational leadership according to Ronald E. Riggio psychologist and leadership expert conducted” research that clearly shows that transformational leaders— leaders who are positive, inspiring, and who empower followers— are better leaders.” Riggio in his research states that, “They are more valued by followers and have higher performing teams.” When transformational leaders strive to mold their followers into leaders by thoroughly involving them in the process, not only succeed at their goals but also improve the lives of others involved.

Further research was conducted in (1978) by James McGregor Burns, His was a concept of transforming leadership in his descriptive research on political leaders, is now used in organizational psychology as well. Burns further asserts that transforming leadership is a process in which “ leaders and followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivations.” The goal in this type of leadership in not just to advance the company or the organization but it is dually focused on the improvement of the individual. This type of leadership shoes that they possess the ability to incorporate the win/win strategy. Another important aspect that a transformational leader strives for is the win/win in which both parties involved are equally rewarded and successful. According to the research a transforming approach to leadership create significant change in the life of people as well as organizations.

Transformational leaders are highly idealized and sought after because of their ability to lead by example by the leaders personality traits, and ability to make change by example, articulation of an energizing vision and goals. Leaders with these transforming traits lead by excellent moral example of working towards the benefit of the team, organization and or community. Transformational leaders have all parties in mind and when the implement the plain they include the followers being sure to make them feel valued and helping them become successful with their tasks.

Further research, that was conducted by Bernard M. Bass(1985) continued on the same track as Burns(1978) Research, expounding on the psychological systems that underlie transforming leadership. Transformational was used by this researcher (Bass) instead of the term transforming. He (Bass) further added to the initial concepts of Burns research in 1978, To help explain how transformational leadership could be measured and how it impacts followers motivation and performance.

In summation, a transformational leader is considered a leader who has a high level of influence on the follower. This is the 1st yardstick upon which a transformational leadership is measured. Consequently, the people under such a leader are characterized by trust, loyalty, admiration and respect for the leader due to the leader’s character (transformational leadership) leading to a more motivated work force with strong resolved to meet the company‘s goals and objectives. The transformational leader pushes the workforce towards achieving goals that are more worthwhile rather the pursuit of self gain by providing them with a sense of belonging and giving them a sense of purpose and giving them a well defined plan on how to achieve their goals. These leaders motivate and transform their followers though their leadership style marked by their drive and passion for the goal as well as individual consideration and intellectual stimulation. Therefore, the work force is pushed to utilize their innovative and creative sides of themselves to overcome challenges of becoming complacent and create and enabling environment in order to seek and obtain the company’s goals and so that they can eventually reach the outcome that is desired. However, Bass and Burns (1978) (2008) knew that leadership could be both transformational and transactional.

Today, several studies conducted over the past 30 years have shown that transformational leadership can greatly help in predicting a range of performance outcomes constituted by individuals, groups or organizational level variables as explained and explored in Bass and Bass 2008 the Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications fourth edition Free Press. In this transformational leadership model, four elements are highlighted. These include the following: Individualized Thought- how much the leader takes care of or attends to each, followers needs, acts as a tutor, mentor and listens to the followers concerns. The leader gives empathy and support, and keeps communication open and places challenges before the followers to motivate and enrich them.

It is imperative that no matter what leadership is used, that adequate research be done to find a style that is best suited to your specific capabilities. Although transformational leadership is extremely effective and well researched and tested, it may not be a style that all individuals are willing or capable to implement. A transformational leader understands what is needed to be effective and that includes working as a team. Without cooperation any situation quickly becomes a failure, which directly affects your ability to collect on your other habits we discussed. Any situation works much better when both parties are willing to cooperate it’s like a well old machine that needs all of its parts to work affectively.

When somebody thinks of leaders they probably assume they were given their position or fell into it by happenstance. What if, though, leaders are just like you and I but they have somehow learned how to be the type of person it would take to be a leader. Transformational leaders have developed the skills and qualities necessary to lead in a productive manner that benefits others as opposed to just themselves or the organization. It is not just about being able to lead, its about being a highly effective person. Leadership is just one of the many hats given to highly effective people. After all isn’t a leader just to highly effective person at leading. Transformational leaders have taken it one step further and learned to care deeply about others and what it would take to make them good leaders as well. This type of leadership takes a lot of work and even more commitment to ones self, the cause the people being led.   

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