At lunch this week, I was discussing a particularly difficult leadership situation with a Director at a publicly traded company and we got on the topic of transformational leadership.  Anyone can take on the traits of a transformational leader and be effective in the right situations where that type of leadership is particularly successful.

What is a Transformational Leader?

According to leadership researcher Bernard Bass, Transformational Leadership occurs when a leader transforms, or changes, his or her followers in three important ways:

  • Valued Contributor: Transformational leaders increase subordinates’ awareness of the importance of their tasks and the importance of performing them well.
  • Need for Growth: Transformational leaders make subordinates aware of their needs for personal growth, development, and accomplishment.
  • Team Builder: Transformational leaders motivate their subordinates to work for the good of the organization rather than exclusively for their own personal gain or benefit.

Bernard Bass determined that, together, these changes have significant positive outcomes: they lead to the followers increasing their confidence in the leader, performing behaviors that contribute to the achievement of organizational goals, and being motivated to perform at higher levels. (1)

When Does Transformational Leadership Matter Most?

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In these volatile economic times, transformational leadership becomes a critical approach in the workplace. For example, a leader in an organization that, like many, has gone through extensive change due to external economic influences needs to demonstrate these critical skills. A leader within an evolving business needs to trust that the people leading the organization are doing as much as they can to attempt to adequately predict the next quarter’s results. Hopefully, they will work with their leadership team to ensure that each member understands their responsibilities within the overall execution of the strategic plan. You, as the leader of your group, need to steer your team to achieve the pre-established benchmarks despite the undercurrent of uncertainty.

It’s not easy. (If it was easy, everyone would do it!)

Realize that you are not alone, and many companies and managers are in the same situation. Think about what you can do personally to create stability within an environment of uncertainly. Taking on the three aspects of a transformational leader can help bring about the team growth and accomplishment that is so important to the success of an organization.

Instead of getting caught up in what’s going on around you every day, try not to lose sight of the big picture. No matter what interpersonal drama is happening in your office, take a moment to take stock of yourself in relation to the traits of a transformational leader. Are you having the impact you need to help your team succeed? Consider what both your subordinate team and executive team need from you, and the answers will become clearer. Remember, you can’t change other people, only how you react to them.

Look Around You For Models of Transformational Leadership

If you need more leadership directives from the executive team, selectively seek out the proper person to mentor you. Those with more experience than you have just that … more experience, which can be exactly the resource you need. There is a lot to be learned from others’ experience and style. Recognizing both positive and negative traits in others helps you mold yourself to be a better leader overall. Make yourself transformational no matter your personal set of circumstances and find yourself to be the catalyst for success that your team needs.

At Merito Group, we offer comprehensive consulting services where we value working with leadership teams, and providing the guidance and support to bring out the best in an organization. Contact us to learn more about how we can work with you business to get the most out of its teams.

(1)    Jones, Gareth R.; George, Jennifer M. (2011-04-26). Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior (6th Edition) Pearson HE, Inc.