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Transformational Leaders' Impact

leadership transition Sep 28, 2023
team discussion

- By Sophie Pinkoski 

In the dynamic landscape of leadership theories, transformational leadership has emerged as an aspirational approach that shares striking commonalities with the humanistic leadership model. While both models complement each other well in their people-first objectives, transformational leadership builds on the humanistic model by recognizing the individual need for intellectual stimulation.

Transformational leadership depends on a charismatic, driven leader who can motivate each individual to come together under a shared goal.

They are able to build their team’s capacity by empowering each member to reach their greatest potential. They do so in a number of phases:

Clarity of Vision –– Transformational leaders begin by crafting a compelling vision that resonates with their team and aligns their personal values with that of the organization. This vision acts as a unifying force, bringing diverse individuals together under a common purpose. From there, the team can set clear, actionable goals and outline the steps required to attain them. When everyone is unified under a shared purpose, they build a sense of community that drives engagement and passionate enthusiasm for their work.

Everyone involved can then better understand the big picture of what they came together to achieve.

Role Modeling Values –– A leader's actions should mirror their organization's vision and values. As James MacGregor Burns, an early scholar of transformational leadership says, “Leaders and their [team] raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation”.

By embodying the ideals they envision for their organization, a leader fosters a positive cycle where individuals can emulate their example, demonstrating desired actions within their team.

This creates a culture of psychological safety for their team, where each person feels comfortable enough to bring their best contributions to work every day.

 Creating New Leaders –– One of the most distinctive aspects of transformational leadership is its capacity to cultivate new leaders within an existing team.

By encouraging individuals beyond their perceived limits, transformational leaders enable them to discover their greatest potential.

Expanding on Burns’ initial definition of transformational leadership, his contemporary, Bernard Bass noted, “Transformational leaders … are those who stimulate and inspire [their team] to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and … develop their own leadership capacity”. A transformational work environment isn’t just one that drives continuous results, it’s one of continuous learning as well. Offering professional development opportunities best suited to realizing each individual’s full potential will advance their journey toward becoming the best version of themselves they can be. By reaching their full potential, team members are empowered to see what they’re truly capable of and even envision themselves in a leadership role.

By merging the compassionate, empathetic elements of humanism with the motivational, goal-oriented approach of transformational leadership, organizations can create an environment where individuals are inspired to reach their greatest potential. This holistic approach not only drives organizational success, but also empowers individuals to become exceptional leaders in their own right.

This blend of transformational and humanistic leadership can illuminate the path toward a brighter, more prosperous future where everyone finds meaning in their work and beyond.


Further Reading

Transformational Leadership, Mind Tools

How to Kill Creativity. Harvard Business Review

Seven Transformations of Leadership. Harvard Business Review

Burns, J.M. (1978) 'Leadership,' New York: Harper and Row.

 How Do Transformational Leaders Inspire and Motivate Followers? Very Well Mind

 Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational Leadership.

 Brown, B. (2018). Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Random House.

 Bray, J., Lee, J., Smith, L., & Yorks, L. (2000). Collaborative Inquiry in Practice: Action, Reflection and Making Meaning. (pp. 1–19) Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications, Inc.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). “Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health”. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(3), 182-185.

Allen, T. D., French, K. A., Dumani, S., & Shockley, K. M. (2015). “Meta-analysis of Work-Family Conflict and Strain”. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 86, 157-171.

Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). “Crafting a Job: Revisioning Employees as Active Crafters of Their Work”. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 179-201.

Muff, K. (2009). “Developing globally responsible leaders in business schools”. Journal of Management Development, 32(5), 487–507.

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