Transformational Leadership Theory

Creating high-performance workforce has become increasingly important and to do so business leaders must be able to inspire organizational members to go beyond their task requirements. As a result, new concepts of leadership have emerged - transformational leadership being one of them.

Transformational leadership may be found at all levels of the organization: teams, departments, divisions, and organization as a whole. Such leaders are visionary, inspiring, daring, risk-takers, and thoughtful thinkers. They have a charismatic appeal. But charisma alone is insufficient for changing the way an organization operates. For bringing major changes, transformational leaders must exhibit the following four factors:

Figure 1: Model of Transformational Leadership
Transformational Leadership Theory
Inspirational Motivation: The foundation of transformational leadership is the promotion of consistent vision, mission, and a set of values to the members. Their vision is so compelling that they know what they want from every interaction. Transformational leaders guide followers by providing them with a sense of meaning and challenge. They work enthusiastically and optimistically to foster the spirit of teamwork and commitment.
Intellectual Stimulation: Such leaders encourage their followers to be innovative and creative. They encourage new ideas from their followers and never criticize them publicly for the mistakes committed by them. The leaders focus on the “what” in problems and do not focus on the blaming part of it. They have no hesitation in discarding an old practice set by them if it is found ineffective.
Idealized Influence: They believe in the philosophy that a leader can influence followers only when he practices what he preaches. The leaders act as role models that followers seek to emulate. Such leaders always win the trust and respect of their followers through their action. They typically place their followers needs over their own, sacrifice their personal gains for them, ad demonstrate high standards of ethical conduct. The use of power by such leaders is aimed at influencing them to strive for the common goals of the organization.
Individualized Consideration: Leaders act as mentors to their followers and reward them for creativity and innovation. The followers are treated differently according to their talents and knowledge. They are empowered to make decisions and are always provided with the needed support to implement their decisions.

The common examples of transformational leaders are Mahatma Gandhi and Obama.

Criticisms of Transformational Leadership Theory

  • Transformational leadership makes use of impression management and therefore lends itself to amoral self promotion by leaders
  • The theory is very difficult to e trained or taught because it is a combination of many leadership theories.
  • Followers might be manipulated by leaders and there are chances that they lose more than they gain.

Implications of Transformational Leadership Theory

The current environment characterized by uncertainty, global turbulence, and organizational instability calls for transformational leadership to prevail at all levels of the organization. The followers of such leaders demonstrate high levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment, and engage in organizational citizenship behaviors. With such a devoted workforce, it will definitely be useful to consider making efforts towards developing ways of transforming organization through leadership.




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