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What Is Transformational Leadership?



Featured image: What Is Transformational Leadership

The success of an organization rests on leadership, which can be classified into different categories. One such category is transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is a model of leadership that is based on the idea of change.

Leaders who use this model strive to change the status quo and inspire their followers to reach new heights. In this blog post, we will discuss the traits of a transformational leader, examples of transformational leaders, as well as the advantages of using this type of leadership in your organization.

What is Transformational Leadership?

Transformational leadership is a type of leadership that is focused on motivating, inspiring, and empowering employees to achieve organizational goals. This type of leader creates a vision for the future and sets high expectations for employees.

Transformational leaders also work to build relationships with employees, gain their trust, and provide them with the support they need to reach their potential. These leaders are often passionate and enthusiastic about their work and are able to motivate employees to achieve extraordinary results.

Transformational leadership can be an effective way to drive organizational change and improve employee morale.

The Transformational Leadership Model: The 4 Key Components

Here’s a look at the four key components of transformational leadership and how they can help you bring about positive change in your organization.

Positive Psychology

Inspirational Motivation

The first component of the transformational leadership style is inspirational motivation. This is when the leader provides a vision for the future that inspires people to want to be a part of it. It’s about more than just setting goals; it’s about creating a shared sense of purpose that everyone can get behind.

For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is an iconic example of inspirational motivation. He didn’t just articulate what he wanted to see happen; he painted a picture of what it would be like and made people feel like they were part of something larger than themselves. 

Intellectual Stimulation

The second component of transformational leadership is intellectual stimulation. This is when the leader challenges people to think critically and come up with new and better ideas. It’s about encouraging people to question the status quo and think outside the box.

For example, Steve Jobs was known for his ability to stimulate his team’s intellect and push them to come up with new and innovative ideas. He wasn’t afraid to challenge convention or take risks, and he expected the same from his team. 

If you want to be a transformational leader, you need to be able to stimulate your team’s intellect and challenge them to come up with creative solutions.

Idealized Influence 

The idealized influence aspect of the transformational leadership model is all about setting an example and inspiring others to do great things. As a leader, you need to be someone that others can look up to and admire. You need to be someone who is ethical and competent, and who has a clear vision for the future.

When you are able to set the right example, you will find that others are more likely to follow your lead and be inspired by your example. If you can show others that it is possible to achieve great things, you will have a much greater impact as a leader.

Individual Consideration

In order for a company to be successful, all employees need to feel a sense of ownership in the overall business goals. The Individual Consideration aspect of the transformational leadership model is what allows for this to happen. This leadership style emphasizes trust, respect, and collaboration between leaders and followers.

By taking into consideration each individual’s needs and motivations, leaders are able to create an environment where everyone feels valued and invested in the company’s success. They lead with charisma, and as a result, employee morale is high and productivity levels are maximized.

Related: Amazon’s leadership principles for success

Traits of a Transformational Leader

A transformational leader is usually humble, proactive, adaptable, open-minded, and self-aware. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these traits. 


One of the most important traits of a transformational leader is humility. A humble leader is someone who is not ego-driven or self-important. They are able to put their egos aside for the good of the team or organization. Humble leaders are also able to give credit where it is due and accept criticism without getting defensive. 


A proactive leader is someone who takes initiative instead of waiting for someone else to do it. They are always looking for ways to improve and make things happen. Proactive leaders are often described as “go-getters” because they are always taking action instead of sitting back and letting things happen. 


An adaptable leader is someone who can change and adjust their leadership style to fit the needs of the team or organization. They are not rigid in their thinking and are able to be flexible when necessary. Adaptable leaders understand that there is not one leadership style that works for everyone or every situation. 


An open-minded leader is someone who is receptive to new ideas and different points of view. They are willing to listen to others and consider different perspectives before making a decision. Open-minded leaders are also curious and continually learning. They understand that there is always room for growth and improvement. 


A self-aware leader is someone who has a deep understanding of their own strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs. They are aware of how their own emotions and actions impact others. Self-aware leaders are able to use this knowledge to make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and provide effective leadership. 

Transformational Leadership vs Transactional Leadership

Transformational and transactional leadership characteristics have been studied and discussed at length over the years. And while there are some similarities between the two, there are also a number of key differences.

Transformational leadership is about inspiring change and motivating team members to achieve their best. Transactional leadership, on the other hand, is more focused on maintaining the status quo and ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. Here’s a closer look at transactional leadership:

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders focus on maintaining the status quo and ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. They tend to be more analytical and task-oriented, and they typically rely on rewards and punishments to motivate team members. While transactional leadership can be effective in certain situations, it can also stifle creativity and innovation.

Transformational Leadership Examples

Let’s take a look at four well-known transformational leaders and explore what made them so effective. 

Satya Nadella, Microsoft

microsoft building

As the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella has been instrumental in the company’s turnaround since taking over in 2014. Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has shifted its focus from solely profit to also including social responsibility. This has resulted in Microsoft becoming a more sustainable and ethical business.

Nadella has led Microsoft’s charge into new markets such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Thanks to Nadella’s vision and leadership, Microsoft is now a market leader in several cutting-edge industries. 

Reed Hastings, Netflix

ipad showing netflix

Reed Hastings is the co-founder and CEO of Netflix. He is widely credited with transforming the company from a DVD-by-mail service into the streaming behemoth it is today. Thanks to Hastings’ forward-thinking leadership, Netflix was one of the first companies to embrace streaming video and has since become the dominant player in that space. Under Hastings’ guidance, Netflix has also produced some of the most popular original programming, such as “Black Mirror” and “Stranger Things.” 

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama is considered by many to be one of the most transformational leaders of our time. During his two terms in office, Obama accomplished a number of historic achievements including passing universal healthcare reform, legalizing same-sex marriage, and reaching an agreement on climate change.

Obama was widely lauded for his handling of the financial crisis and for his efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. Thanks to Obama’s impressive track record as president, he is now considered one of the most influential leaders in the world. 

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is considered by many to be one of the most important political leaders of our time. After spending 27 years in prison for his activism against apartheid, Mandela was released in 1990 and went on to lead South Africa through its transition to democracy.

He was elected president in 1994 and served until 1999. During his tenure, Mandela worked tirelessly to promote reconciliation between South Africa’s white minority and black majority populations.

He also helped pass a new constitution that guaranteed equal rights for all South Africans regardless of race or ethnicity. Thanks to Mandela’s leadership, South Africa is now a thriving democracy with a rich cultural heritage. 

Other Types of Leadership Styles

Laissez-faire leadership is the hands-off approach. As the name suggests, laissez-faire leaders take a step back and let their team members take the lead. This type of leadership can be beneficial in certain situations, such as when team members are highly skilled and motivated. However, it can also lead to problems if team members are not well-informed or lack direction.

Democratic leadership is a more participatory style of leadership. In this type of arrangement, leaders consult with their team members and make decisions together. This approach can help to build morale and encourage creativity, but it can also be time-consuming.

Autocratic leadership is the most directive style of leadership. In an autocratic arrangement, the leader makes all the decisions and his or her team members simply follow orders. This approach can be efficient in certain situations, but it can also breed resentment among team members.

Related: Leader vs Boss: 7 Major Differences


Transformational leaders are not only concerned with productivity, but also with employee morale and development. Transformational leaders are those who motivate and inspire others to not only reach their potential but also help organizations achieve their goals.

These types of leaders usually possess certain traits, such as humility, proactiveness, adaptability, open-mindedness, and self-awareness. If you want to be a transformational leader, start by developing these important qualities.

How do you think transformational leadership could benefit your company or organization?

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