Transformational Leadership – Origin and Importance

Transformational Leadership – Origin and Importance

An Introduction

A leader is a person who influences others to meet a goal and manages his team in such a way that it moves towards that objective unswervingly. The concept of leadership varies as per situations and from one person to another. One can be a political leader, religious leader or community leader. In this article, we will introduce you to transformational leadership as a concept in the workplace.

Origin of Transformational Leadership Theory

The idea of Transformational leadership was pioneered by James MacGregor Burns. According to him, transformational leaders have a strong vision and personality with which they can influence followers to transform motivations, perceptions and expectations so that they can fulfill the vision.

In 1978, Bernard Bass modified Burns’ theory and it came to be known as Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory. He developed the theory of Burns and stated that transformational leadership is the impact a leader has on his followers. A transformational leader is admired, respected and trusted by his followers. Bass remarked that the level of transformation a leader can bring is directly proportional to the influence he has on his followers. The more he inspires them, the more they will contribute to the organizational success. The identity rendered to the followers helps them to relate to the success of the project and gives them a mission. A leader who follows transformational ideas is one who urges his followers to come up with something new instead of following the existing norms and processes.

Definition of Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a method by which a leader realizes that a change is required and he creates a vision accordingly. He then, inspires his followers to fulfill that vision. He contributes in boosting the performance of his followers by motivating them. He encourages his followers to identify themselves with the organization, thus giving birth to collective identity. He is someone, followers look up to for inspiration.

A transformational leader is one who asks the followers to take responsibility and ownership of their work. By identifying the strong and weak points of the followers, he knows which task is suitable for which follower.

Transformational Leadership

Main Features of Transformational Leadership

The definition of transformational leadership has the following components which are explained below:

  1. Realize the change required and create a vision that helps in reaching the change
  2. Motivate the team members to obtain the vision
  3. Use mechanisms to ensure that the vision is delivered
  4. Be an inspiration to the followers and build a strong team by motivating them

Realize the change required and create a vision that helps in reaching the change

For a leader, a vision is the harbinger of a change that underlines the future of the company. It provides a target and a pathway to reach the destination. It also helps in understanding the level of success that has been realized and what else is left to achieve.

There are various tools that help a leader in creating a vision. With the help of SWOT Analysis, he can decipher the internal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the business. Porter’s Five Forces contribute in realizing the extent of competition it is facing from external world, such as new entrants, existing companies and relatively low quality duplicate products or services. It also helps in understanding the bargaining power of buyers and suppliers. The external environment is identified by PESTEL Analysis wherein political, economical, social, technological, environmental and legal influences are considered. He can apply Core Competency Analysis to realize the product development strategies, advertising strategies, customer retention strategies etc. It also helps in understanding the improvements that need to be done to improve performance and delivery of assignment. A leader conducts a thorough market research to observe the major risks and uncertainties that he might face while bringing about the required change. According to that, he takes decisions for the company.

From what has been discussed till now, it can be said that transformational leaders do not follow the stereotypical track and motivate their followers to come up with new challenges and solutions.

The influencing power of a leader rests on his capacity to convince people, looking up to him. If the vision is not convincing, followers do not embrace them. But, a compelling vision moves the followers to understand and feel the essence of the vision so that they accept it. A transformational leader pursues his followers with means, such as encouraging stories, personal experiences, etc to view a bright picture of a changed future. He urges his followers to see how the changes can add value to their career.

Motivate the team members to obtain the vision

An efficient leader knows how to link to the expectations of followers. There are two main types of expectations.

  • With hard work comes a good outcome
  • Good outcomes lead to lucrative rewards

Leaders can motivate people with the power to provide them with good results in future.

Use mechanisms to ensure that the vision is delivered

It is the responsibility of a leader to ensure that his vision is managed and delivered in an appropriate manner. He can either do it himself or delegate the job to a manager. With the help of performance goals, the vision of the team can be realized.

Be an inspiration to the followers and build a strong team by motivating them

There are many theories that explain the way in which a leader should develop his team and himself. Theories by Bruce Tuckman and Belbin highlight team development.

By training the followers and gathering feedback, he not only ensures that his team members perform well, but also consider him a role model. By allowing followers to give feedback, he ensures transparency. He is always in search of potential leaders in his team, so that there is an environment to do something new.

Transformational Leadership in a Nutshell

Transformational leadership is an influence a leader has on his followers to make sure that his visions are fulfilled. It is the power to make people believe in those visions and help in bringing about the changes required in business.

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