Every organization requires a particular leadership system to achieve objectives and goals. Some do this using coercive and strict leadership, whereas others choose a more employee-friendly innovative approach like laissez-faire leadership.
A few organizations also opt for transformational leadership. Transformational leaders work by motivating their employees to do better instead of micromanaging them. It is not so common in small-scale organizations as transformation leadership success requires time and patience.
This article has everything you need to know about this style, including the advantages and disadvantages of transformational leadership.
What is Transformational Leadership?
A political scientist James MacGregor Burns conceptualized this leadership system based on motivation. The transformational leadership style motivates the employees from within by setting examples for them. Transformational leaders must perform their roles so well that the employees trust their abilities. The leader provides their employees with a clear vision of the future, and they think of their leader as a role model.
Transformational leadership transforms the behavior of its employees.
It is completely opposite to the transactional style of leadership that pushes the employees to perform better by offering rewards. This leadership style also believes in punishment for poor performance instead of the transformational style. Transformational leaders put in their effort to change the way their team takes the job. They make it something they would look forward to every day.
Characteristics of Transformational Leaders
A transformational leader can only be successful when he is visionary. They must have a realistic vision to inspire their team. When the team believes in the vision of their leader, they work hard to achieve that vision.
Communication skills are an inevitable characteristic of a transformational leader. They might not be able to transform the thought process of the employees with poor communication skills. Always remember that communication is a two-way road. You do not only inform of what you want but also what your team wants to say. You can only make your team understand the reality of your vision when you know how to communicate.
Transformational leaders are passionate and persistent about their jobs. They are optimistic about the vision and goals of their employees. The team members see the passion in their leaders and wish to achieve the same.
A transformational leader has to be role model for their employees. They are similar to coaching leaders. Transformational leaders set high standards for the team to follow. The team looks up to strong values and ethics in their leader. Make sure not to be a boss testing their team members and shout at them all the time.
Advantages of Transformational Leadership Style
The most evident advantage of the transformational leadership style is the change it instills in the organization. Transformational leaders modify the processes if the company has been working on traditional leadership methods. Such leaders alter the old patterns in the company, which encourages the team to perform well. Organizations must be ready to accept this transformation to improve the outputs.
Authoritative leadership styles typically do not allow innovation and freedom in the organization. Transformational leaders offer freedom of innovation and expression to their teams. It lets them give better suggestions to their leaders that they appreciate. Transformational leaders do not fear change and welcome innovation.
Improves the Morale
Traditional organizational leadership styles do not care much about the employee’s interests or morale. They are concerned about the results only. On the contrary, a transformational leader improves the team’s confidence by encouraging them. They utilize the two-way feedback system to praise their team and inform them of their shortcomings.
Learning and Development
Transformational leaders contribute to learning and development in the organization. The leaders instill emotional intelligence and required skills in their team to give them confidence. Engaging the team in team-building and intellectual activities encourages learning in the company.
Transformational leaders push employees to develop intrinsic motivation. Every team member works to achieve their self-decided goals that contribute to organizational growth. The employees do not work for their personal motives only. They realize the importance of teamwork and engage in processes.
Transformational leaders do not believe in unrealistic visions and create new visions for the company. They understand the problems in the existing concept and take adequate measures to fill the gap. They communicate the importance of the new corporate vision to their team to work on it together. The team follows their leader when they see them working towards their vision passionately.
Absence of Coercive Mindset
While coercive leaders take pride in controlling their employees, transformational leaders detest this approach. They do not use their position to control the team members. They consider their employee’s individual and organizational problems while making changes in the system. Such leaders do not like the idea of fear within the team. Instead, they prefer being respected for their ethics and values.
Low Turnover Rate
Transformational leaders do not push their teams beyond their abilities and limits. Instead, they utilize their emotional intelligence to motivate and inspire their employees. The team works together and does not feel burdened. Thus, transformational leaders can retain their employees through authoritative or autocratic leadership styles.
This leadership style is quite effective compared to other techniques. The changes in the organization give a new direction to the employees without coercion. Employees trust their leaders and follow in their footsteps to reach their goals.
Disadvantages of Transformational Leadership
Loss of Influence
A transformational leader can keep the team united when they understand the vision and strategy to hit the goals. Poor communication may not influence the team, and they lose interest in the vision. A transformational leadership system cannot perform with extrinsic motivation. They must motivate the team intrinsically to keep the employees engaged.
May Cause Negative Outcomes
Sometimes, transformational leaders do not impart morals and values to their team. They work in a transformational style but lead to negative outcomes instead of positive ones. They utilize their charisma and motivational power to push their employees to work in negative ways. As a leader, you must drive positive results instead of adverse outcomes.
Slow Decision Making
Transformational leadership does not require instructions from functional management. Yet, this kind of leadership involves all team members before deciding. Transformational leaders wish to see how they have transformed the mindset of their employees. Thus, they prefer input from all team members, causing a delay in decision-making.
Need for Consistent Feedback
A transformational leadership system requires consistent feedback due to the lack of micromanagement. The leaders must provide feedback now and then to keep their team on track and have high enthusiasm levels. The input allows the employees to understand their shortcomings and work on them.
Modern leadership styles like visionary, coaching, and transformational inspire their teams by setting high standards. While they encourage their team to do better, the employees may tire of working hard to achieve the goals. Unreasonable deadlines to produce quick results may also lead to burnout. It benefits you for the time being but may cause harm in the long run.
Change is Inevitable
Any organization opting for transformational leadership must know that change is inevitable. If you are looking to incorporate a transformational leadership style without considering organizational changes, that’s not possible. This leadership style requires changes in team management and strategies to modify how the employees think.
Less Focus on Short-Term Goals
Transformational leaders focus less on short-term goals and work towards their vision. The team members also tend to ignore short-term goals, following the footsteps of their leader. Such leaders may fail to structure strategies to cope with long-term goals.
Sometimes the team members might not agree with the vision or strategy of their leader. If the leader fails to communicate the need and importance of a new concept, the team may not agree with them. This may result in rebellion in the organization and cause negativity.
May be Deceptive
Transformational leaders are skilled at understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. However, they sometimes overlook the capability of the team members to keep production running. The leaders may push the employees to do work they cannot do. It can lead to disruption within the team and eventually reduce productivity.
The Bottom Line
The transformational leadership style is a modern technique that engages and motivates workers. It differs from traditional leadership styles as it does not micromanage or push employees beyond their capability. It focuses on communication, better engagement, and learning for better growth. It helps reduce employee turnover when the team respects and follows the manager. Yet, it may cause burnout or lead to negative outcomes if not managed properly. The advantages and disadvantages of the transformational leadership style can help you make better decisions.
What are the Elements of the Transformational Leadership Style?
Transformational leadership consists of four elements according to the Full Range Leadership Model. They include IC (individual consideration), IS (intellectual stimulation), IM (inspirational motivation), and II (idealized influence).
How to be an Effective Transformational Leader?
An effective transformational leader takes time to understand their team. They communicate their concerns and listen to the employees as well. Influential transformational leaders are passionate and persistent about their job.
What is the Difference Between Transformational and Transactional Leadership?
Transformational and transactional leadership styles are considered the absolute opposites of each other. Transformational leadership focuses on growth and long-term vision. Contrarily, transactional leadership works for better productivity and short-term goals. The former is motivational and engages the employees. Yet, the latter works on incentives and punishments.
Matthew is a Co-Founder at BusinessFinanceArticles.org. Matthew was a floor manager at a local restaurant in Wales. He lost his job after the pandemic and took initiative to make a team and start the project.