A transformational leader is an individual in a leadership position–the captain of a sports team, a teacher or professor, a company’s manager or CEO–who has one goal: better the team’s productivity and collective identity. They accomplish this both directly and indirectly in a variety of ways. Typically, a transformational leader is as passionate about the mission and/or project as they are about their team. The key point of being a transformational leader is to work towards a common goal while also caring for people as individuals.
Researcher Bernard Bass described four distinctive components of a transformational leader: intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, individualized consideration and idealized influence (Zeinab et al., 2019). No one component is more important than the other, and all four make for the idealized transformational leader.
Anyone can become a transformational leader so long as they strive to meet the four components listed above. If you are in a leadership position in the workplace already, or strive to be in the very near future, here are nine reasons why you should invest in transformational leadership.
Even before we enter the workforce, transformational leadership can help us become more desirable applicants of any employment opportunity. Wang et al. (2020) researched the relationship between undergraduate students and their professors with a particular interest in the professors’ transformational leadership styles. Because student work is based on the evaluation and judgement of the professor, it is the professor’s encouragement and inspiration that forms a student’s employability at the undergraduate level. Wang et al. found that the students who were aware of their professor’s transformational leadership styles also scored higher in self-efficacy: this indicates that students inspired by transformational leaders are more likely to be confident they can do tasks and other work well. Self-efficacy is reinforced through experience, verbal persuasion, and emotional state. A professor that supports a student’s career planning and preparation is a transformational leader. This student confidence enhances employability and increases the chance the student is offered a desirable job prior to their graduation.
Once in the workplace, transformational leadership further helps employees increase their job performances through affective organizational commitment. This is the desire to belong to an organization and the willingness to display effort on behalf to the organization. Data collected from 398 employees and their supervisors of an international organization supports this notion (Sungu et al., 2019). Transformational leaders help inspire the affective organizational commitment to employees of an organization because they encourage short-term goals to become long-term objectives to better the company. In the process of creating a more enabling work environment, employees increase their job performance and productivity.
In addition to increasing job performance, employees are known to report better job satisfaction if they are working for transformational leaders. Specifically in healthcare, nurse supervisors who take time to assess the skills and needs of younger, less practiced nurses and adapt teaching and training to improve these skills practice transformational leadership. Leadership doesn’t just come from the CEO. These nurse supervisors and anyone else in a superior position must be aware that they are leaders, otherwise their actions and/or behaviors are perceived as inconsistent. Job satisfaction thus increases if employees feel they are being cared for and recognized as valuable members of the team by their transformational leaders.
Just as affective organizational commitment is vital to increase job performance, affective team commitment is essential for transformational leaders to establish team effectiveness. Viability, team process improvement, and quality group experiences were assessed in surveys completed by 445 individuals of 90 teams: the results of this survey showed that affective team commitment mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and quality of the group experience. The relationship between the two indicated transformational leaders create a strong motivation for employees to commit to their work, especially if their leaders take the time to develop a positive social relationship within the team (Paolucci et al., 2018).
Team identification is vital to establish within a team in order to achieve efficiency and satisfaction amongst the employees, and an easy way to create a cohesive team identity is for the team leader to be a transformational leader. Team identification is the extent employees share a united experience or a sense of belonging amongst coworkers and superiors (Kim & Vandenberghe, 2018). A leader with strong charisma is positively related to a strong team identity. The smaller the team, the easier it is for leaders to express charisma. Larger teams are a bit more difficult to implement the components of transformational leadership, yet it is the effort that makes for a stable team identification.
Transformational leaders are able to amplify a team’s creativity because it secures a team identification, thus decreasing the amount of conflicting ideas and beliefs amongst the team. Personality heterogeneity, or differing personalities and perspectives, makes for a diverse team but not always a cohesive one. Transformational leaders promote idea generation and development to a greater extent than unmotivated leaders, and can even create resolutions when differing personalities clash. An assessment of 65 teams in technology product and program development found that the more diverse a team is, the more a transformational leader is needed to work efficiently (sharing ideas without argument, acceptance of coworkers, creating harmony and a single mindframe) (Zhang et al., 2019).
Communication is the backbone of any group of people, and transformational leaders are able to create positive communication amongst their team in order to reach a common goal. Managers must communicate amongst themselves and others through training, to meet goals and deadlines, make performance evaluations and develop interpersonal relationships. There is thus a meaningful relationship between transformational leaders and communication skills, in which inspirational motivation is especially utilized to stress the importance of projects and the company’s main purpose.
Being emotionally intelligent is what differentiates a cold boss from a transformational leader. As we have described in our post Emotional Intelligence at Work: How to Develop All 5 Factors, emotional intelligence is loosely defined as the ability to experience and understand emotions, and then regulate those emotions in a way that allows growth. The results of Wagley et al. (2020)’s study that assessed 226 managers indicated that emotional intelligence and transformational leadership foster high-quality relationships between managers and their employees, as well as job performance. Because individualized consideration focuses on the team putting their faith in a trustworthy manager, those with high emotional intelligence make for an ideal transformational leader.
Finally, the more meaningful the work becomes, the less of a chore it seems. Meaningful work is created by autonomy (self-governing), competence, and good relationships at work (Pasha & Ur Rehman, 2020). Transformational leaders foster meaningful work by meeting the team’s needs and listening to their requests to reinforce the autonomy of the individual. If the work is meaningful, the team is meaningful, and then the desire to please superiors and leaders will increase, as will job performance, commitment, and team identity.
LIFE Intelligence is a leadership coaching app designed to promote qualities of transformational leadership, like self-awareness, emotional intelligence, communication skills, conflict resolution, and team motivation. Regardless of your position–team player or team captain–there is a simple way for you to become a transformational leader. The LIFE app is backed by science, and provides hundreds of bite-sized, 5-minute lessons on everything from planning goals to making decisions, supporting others, having hard conversations, giving and receiving feedback, and much more. Just 5 minutes a day can improve your leadership skills. And, used on entire teams, everyone, just like the nurse supervisors, can positively impact their teammates and help the entire team feel more aligned, included, and supported. For employers, LIFE is an effective and fun way to promote employee development, improve emotional intelligence, and transform everyone into effective leaders. Make the most of your career and try this user-friendly app for free today.
Kim, S. S., & Vandenberghe, C. (2018). The moderating roles of perceived task interdependence and team size in transformational leadership’s relation to team identification: A dimensional analysis. Journal of Business & Psychology, 33(4), 509–527.
Paola, G., Edoardo, P., Andrea, C., Marco, C., Valerio, D., Rosalie J., H., & Giovanni, C. C. (2020). Job satisfaction in a sample of nurses: A multilevel focus on work team variability about the head nurse’s transformational leadership. Electronic Journal of Applied Statistical Analysis, 13(3), 713–738.
Paolucci, N., Dimas, I. D., Zappalà, S., Lourenço, P. R., & Rebelo, T. (2018). Transformational leadership and team effectiveness: The mediating role of affective team commitment. Revista de Psicologia Del Trabajo y de Las Organizaciones, 34(3), 135–144.
Pasha, M. A., & Ur Rehman, M. Z. (2020). Impact of transformational leadership and psychological empowerment on meaningful work, Moderating Effect of Organizational Culture. Abasyn University Journal of Social Sciences, 13(1), 365–375.
Sungu, L. J., Weng, Q., & Xu, X. (2019). Organizational commitment and job performance: Examining the moderating roles of occupational commitment and transformational leadership. International Journal of Selection & Assessment, 27(3), 280–290.
Waglay, M., Becker, J. R., & du Plessis, M. (2020). The role of emotional intelligence and autonomy in transformational leadership: A leader member exchange perspective. SAJIP: South African Journal of Industrial Psychology, 46, 1–12.
Wang, S., Peng, M. Y.-P., Xu, Y., Simbi, V. T., Lin, K.-H., & Teng, T.-C. (2020). Teachers’ transformational leadership and students’ employability development: A social cognitive career perspective. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 48(5), 1–15.
Zeinab, N. B., Khorasan, H. M., & Eskandani, F. A. (2019). Investigating the effect of transformational leadership on employees’ communicational performance. Revista Orbis, 14(42), 40–52.
Zhang, W., Sun, S. L., Jiang, Y., & Zhang, W. (2019). Openness to experience and team creativity: Effects of knowledge sharing and transformational leadership. Creativity Research Journal, 31(1), 62–73.