Transformational Leadership

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What is Transformational Leadership? Meaning.

Transformational Leadership is a style of leadership, related to Warren Bennis, that motivates through identification with the leader's vision: pulling rather than pushing others on.

According to Bennis (On Becoming a Leader), it is good to make a distinction between:

  • Managers: Doing things right. Transactional Leadership. Administers, maintains, Focuses on system and controls and the sort term view, asks how and when, keeps an eye on the bottom line.

  • Leaders: Doing the right things. Transformational Leadership. Innovates, develops, focuses on people, inspires, creates trust, asks what and why and has a long term view and an eye for the horizon.

Background of Transformational Leadership. History

The concept of transformational leadership is credited to James MacGregor Burns, a political science and leadership researcher, who in the 1970s defined the actions of transformational leadership as a process in which leaders and followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation. Burns talked about the difficulty to differentiate between management and leadership and argued that the differences are in characteristics and behaviors.

According to Burns, the transforming approach creates significant change in the life of people and organizations. It redesigns perceptions and values, and changes expectations and aspirations of employees. Unlike in the transactional approach, it is not based on a "give and take" relationship, but on the leader's personality, traits and ability to make a change through example, articulation of an energizing vision and challenging goals.

Typical Transformational Leadership Behaviors (B.M. Bass, 1985)

In 1985, B.M. Bass, leadership researcher and professor at Binghamton University, expanded on Burns ideas to develop the Bass Transformational Leadership Theory, consisting of four main components or 4 I's of Transformational Leadership:

  1. Idealized Influence. Refers to leaders being a role model, having high standards of moral and ethical conduct, who are held in high personal regard, and who engender loyalty from the follower.
  2. Inspirational Motivation. Refers to leaders with a strong vision for the future - based on values and ideals. Leader behaviors falling into this dimension include stimulating enthusiasm, building confidence, and inspiring followers using symbolic actions and persuasive language. Idealized influence and inspirational motivation are highly correlated and are sometimes combined to form a measure of charisma.
  3. Intellectual Stimulation. Refers to leaders who challenge organizational norms, encourage divergent thinking, and push followers to develop innovative strategies.
  4. Individual Consideration. Refers to leader behaviors like listening and demonstrating genuine concern for the needs and feelings of the followers, aimed at recognizing their unique growth and developmental needs, as well as coaching followers and consulting with them.

Burns, J.M. (1978), "Leadership", N.Y, Harper and Row
Bass, B.M. (1985), "Leadership and Performance", N.Y. Free Press.

Special Interest Group

Transformational Leadership Special Interest Group.

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Cultivating Transformational Leaders
We are constantly talking about the need for leaders as well as for "Leadership" responsibility for influencing a positive change process through out our various organizations, institutions, and socie...
Transformational Projects
Hi can somebody can help me and talk about transformational projects, for example involving change of the corporate purpose or of the strategy. I understand that the transformational project is beyon...
🔥 NEW Typical Transactional Leadership Behaviors
I need an explanation of typical transactional leadership. In particular: - What are typical behaviors / characteristics of transaction leaders? - To become such a leader, is that based on talent or...
Transformational Leadership and WYSIWYG
The above is a very good description/definition by Warren Bennis. Check out Three laws of performance (Steve Zaffron, Dave Logan): - First law: performance/action correlates to how the world occurs ...
Transformational Leadership in Complex Environments
I need your views on how to develop transformational leadership in a government sector, where there are messy, complex, wicked problems. Is transformational leadership suitable to deal with wicked p...
Reflection in Transformational Leadership
How can reflection serve as an important aspect for transformational leadership?...

Best Practices

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🥇 Transformational Leadership Definition
I need a simple and concise definition for transformational leadership. Any suggestions?...

🥈 Transformational Leadership not Easy for Managers
Traditionally managers have not oriented themselves into playing a leadership role. Their focus seems to be on the task alone with little consideration given to the person performing the task. The tr...

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How to Combine Transformational and Transactional Leadership?

Leadership Development
In the book "Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: The Road Ahead", attention is paid to Transformational versus ...
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Transformational Leadership. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

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Compare with: Emotional Intelligence  |  Servant-Leadership  |  Covert Leadership  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  Theory X Theory Y  |  Level 5 Leadership  |  Contingency Theory  |  Competing Values Framework  |  Expectancy Theory  |  Seven Surprises  |  Seven Habits  |  Results-Based Leadership  |  Situational Leadership  |  EPIC ADVISERS

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