Leadership — or the lack thereof — can make or break a business. But great leadership can come in many forms. Some people naturally gravitate toward one approach, whereas others thoughtfully and intentionally hone their leadership abilities over time.

For an aspiring organization, learning about different theories of leadership can provide a framework for interacting with, influencing, and inspiring others. One highly regarded theory is that of transformational leadership. But what is transformational leadership, and why does it work so well? Read on to learn more.

What Is Transformational Leadership?

The concept of transformational leadership was popularized by James MacGregor Burns after the publication of his 1978 book, Leadership. According to Burns, “transforming” 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.”

The transformational leader cares deeply about their followers — from helping them excel at the task at hand to encouraging them to reach their full potential across all aspects of life. Transformational leaders inspire and empower those around them to be the best they can, from an ethical standpoint as well as a performance perspective.

Transformational leadership is often connected with positive outcomes, including meeting or exceeding organizational goals and it has been proven to be effective in ensuring organizational success.

Application of components of leadership in aim of attaining organizational goals.

a)      Inspirational Motivation.

The following are some of the ways of implementing inspirational motivation.

  • Setting goals.

The workforce needs to have it in mind that they’re working in anticipation of something concrete. At times, a company's leadership knows what the big picture is, and ways to get there. Other times, the team figures out the goals and steps to arrive there. Either way, the leader's role is to help make clear of the mission for all the employees working on it. The goals should be realistic, measurable and specific.

  • Offer regular feedback.

Nowadays, majority of employees want to receive more feedback on their work than they actually get. Wise leaders can regularly check in, make themselves more accessible and offer informal feedback that is honest and frequent. Employees won’t get an opportunity to share their thoughts without such kind of dialogue. Feedback is of mutual benefit, with both parties benefiting from the conversation.

  • Incorporate flexibility and work-life balance.

Workers might at times want to do their work on their terms, but can't really do so. It’s possible to incorporate other jobs e.g. part-time jobs and not limiting employees to a single job. At times employees might have other urgent and important understandable issues. They can be allowed to look into them without necessarily being sacked. Offering more flexible workdays and remote work opportunities is one of the best ways to inspire productivity.

  • Provide a healthy work environment.

The workplace should be conducive to harbor creative thinking and satisfaction. The employer should reflect the values and personalities of employees in some way. The workplace should be a place that upholds personal space, good air quality, minimal noise pollution, adequate natural light and any other important factors. To get more knowledge on this, a leader should consider circulating a survey among employees to find out what they want and what they’d change.

b)      Individualized consideration

One of the key transformational traits is the ability to transmit a sense of the larger culture to the team, giving employees a feeling of ownership in organizational goals and a sense of independence in the workplace. A transformational leader should not dictate ideas and leave employees to carry them out. They should be concerned with professional development of employees and foster positive relationships with them. You can often identify a transformational leader by the trust, respect and admiration others show towards them. A transformational leader leads by communicating a clear vision and creating a workplace where seasoned employees are trusted to make decisions in their assigned areas. All employees are encouraged to think creatively in finding new solutions to challenges.

c)       Intellectual stimulation

Intellectual stimulation is the extent to which transformational leaders challenge assumptions, take risks and solicit employees or followers’ ideas. They recognize followers through stimulation, creativity and innovation. Such a leader acknowledges that they don’t know everything and seeks opinions from others, advancing intellectual stimulation in order to find solutions. They encourage their teams or employees to think independently arousing their team’s creativity and imagination to solve organizational problems. These leaders aren’t invested in getting their teams to conform rather they embolden employees by providing support, while giving them room to create and collaborate. When people are given an opportunity to engage in critical thinking and reinvent the preconceived “my way or the highway” thoughts, they can be intellectually stimulated to realize higher levels of potential and self-leadership.

d)      Idealized influence

Transformational leaders act as role models for their followers. As a leader, I ought to embody the values that this organization's subordinates can learn and internalize. Promoting consistent values and a sense of consistent vision would be my foundational go-to for enhancing transformational leadership. By providing them with a sense of meaning & challenging them to see a bigger ideal than what's at play, the followers would thus easily be guided into what to do in the organization. The leader can help make this unfold in the following ways:

  • Promoting a broad, inclusive vision

-          Confident and clear communication of the vision and values in a way employees understand and want to be a part of is key. Sharing the vision is a key part of transformational leadership as it helps employees understand expectations and the end of the organization

  • Leading by example

-          This process of creating idealized influence is also known as impression management. In this way, the transformational leader uses impression management by leading by example and demonstrating their willingness to put the employees and organization first.

  • Showing strong commitment to goals

-          A transformational leader will show that they are willing to take risks so as to achieve the goals set for the organization. This inspires in the employees a sense of commitment to the goal by their leader.

  • Creating trust and confidence in employees

-          The end state of idealized influence leads is employee respect, trust, and confidence. Transformational leaders are able to achieve this by putting their employees' needs over their own.

  • Representing organizational goals, culture, and mission

-          A transformational leader must embody the ideals, goals and vision of the organization so much that they can be trusted to carry the image of the organization into sectors outside of it. They ought to be the representation of what the organization stands for & is all about.


Whether it’s for a small startup or large, multifaceted organization, the quality of leadership can make all the difference when it comes to achieving both objective success and subjective wellbeing. As the evidence has shown, adopting a transformational style may well be integral to these ends. While transformational leadership likely won’t offer a ‘quick fix’ – especially for larger organizations resistant to change – this isn’t grounds for despondency.

It’s never too late to change the approach, and the power of a compelling, inspiring vision to motivate shouldn’t be underestimated.


1.       Adair, J. (2009), The inspirational leader: how to motivate, encourage & achieve success, London: Kogan Page.

2.       Zineldin, M. (2017). Transformational leadership behavior, emotions, and outcomes: Health psychology perspective in the workplace. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health32(1), 14–25.

3.       Arnold, K.A., Turner, N., Barling, J., Kelloway, E.K., & Mckee, M.C. (2007). Transformational Leadership and Psychological Wellbeing: The Mediating Role of Meaningful Work, 12(3), 193-203


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