What Is Transformational Leadership?

When we think about leadership, we generally think of someone in a position of power who can make our job fun or stressful. However, this is only the traditional perception of leadership.
Currently, there are various leadership approaches. Some approaches are authoritarian, while some leadership styles, like transformational leadership, are egalitarian.
Big companies, such as Amazon, implement transformational leadership in the workplace. It has proven to be a practical leadership approach to increasing productivity.
This article will answer, “What is transformational leadership?” and tell you all the information needed to become a transformational leader.

What Is Transformational Leadership?

Transformational leadership is a management approach that focuses on creating positive change. A group leader who employs transformational leadership focuses on guiding team members beyond their capabilities and self-interests to achieve overall success.
You can apply this leadership approach by identifying an individual’s abilities, interests, needs, and goals. Then, utilize these elements to benefit the organization without micromanagement.
A transformational leader motivates his team members to perform at a higher level by assigning tasks that are appropriate for their skill set and trusting them to take ownership of their work.
Transformational leadership can prepare employees for future decisions and positions of leadership.

What Are the Components of Transformational Leadership?

Transformational leadership is an effective leadership style that encourages creativity, self-development, and innovation. Now that you're on board with this approach, you may wonder, “What are the components of transformational leadership?”
There are four key components, known as the 4 I’s, to transformational leadership:
  • Individualized Consideration: The leader understands that individual communication is crucial for good team performance.
If a worker has difficulties on the job or adjusting to the team, you take responsibility for training them. You help them overcome those difficulties and direct them toward effective solutions.
As a result, your team becomes more trusting and reliant on one another, increasing overall productivity.
  • Intellectual Stimulation: Transformation leaders acknowledge that they constantly need to strive for more and challenge their team to progress.
Challenging your team doesn't mean drowning them in extra work. It means you need to push your team further by dismantling limiting beliefs. Create an open door for creativity and ask your members about their ideas.
Encourage them to take their current work up a notch by learning new skills relevant to their position. For example, you can guide them to learn the newest software needed for future projects.
  • Inspirational Motivation: Finding value and purpose fuels teams to push forward. You need to have a compelling vision and be able to articulate it to your team.
It’s essential to support your vision with great communication skills. Try to be precise and engaging. You should also communicate optimism and acknowledge hard work.
As a result, your team will be motivated to put forth effort in each task because they know their hard work contributes to a significant outcome.
  • Idealized Influence: This means to “practice what you preach.” Transformational leaders are a manifestation of all the qualities they want in their team.
You serve as a role model, gaining your team’s trust as a leader and making them want to imitate you.

Is Transformational Leadership Effective?

Transformational leadership is generally considered a positive leadership approach. Groups that are led by transformational leaders show higher productivity, job satisfaction, positive attitude, and lower turnover rate compared to other leadership styles.
Take the IT industry, for example. You’ll find that successful IT companies, such as Amazon, are led by transformational leaders.
These companies constantly need innovation to satisfy market demand and thrive in a competitive business environment, which transformational leadership facilitates.
However, some studies suggest that transformational leadership can adversely affect employees’ productivity. They attribute the decrease in productivity to what’s known as the “Too-Much-of-a-Good-Thing (TMGT)” effect.
The TMGT effect is when something seems to produce only positive outcomes until it reaches a tipping point and begins to produce negative outcomes. The negative outcomes are often puzzling and can’t be explained.
Still, transformational leadership typically shows positive outcomes. What’s more, the best leaders are those who can implement different leading approaches according to the situation.

Transformational vs. Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership differs from transformational leadership, as transactional leadership uses rewards and penalties systems to evaluate its employees.
Transactional leadership follows the “give and take” principle, in which the employee does something, and the leader rewards/punishes the employee for it.
This leadership style doesn’t allow room for creativity and focuses on getting things done. In contrast, transformational leadership motivates members to work toward a vision, which allows for creativity.

Transformational vs. Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership is the complete opposite of transformational leadership. This leadership style gives control to only the leader for decision-making. Such leaders rarely allow group members to share views or participate in the decision-making process.
Autocratic leadership is generally associated with negative work outcomes. However, some studies suggest it can be effective under certain conditions.

How to Become A Transformational Leader?

You can enroll in a graduate program or take training courses to put the four elements of transformational leadership into action.
However, the key to developing transformational leadership is self-awareness. You need to understand your personality traits to identify and overcome your weaknesses.


You can start by identifying which character traits you lack most and work on them one at a time. For instance, if you’re shy and tend to self-censor your views, you’ll want to engage more in each meeting.
Prepare for meetings by organizing your thoughts to effectively deliver your ideas. That’ll help you gain confidence in thinking on your feet more often.
In contrast, if you often engage in meetings and express your ideas, try to hold back and let others speak. Remember that leadership is also about allowing others to figure out solutions independently.

Courses and Certifications

You can enroll in leadership and management online courses. You’ll find plenty of resources on various MOOC platforms.
You can also take non-degree certificates in transformational leadership or enroll in a strategic leadership graduate program.


There isn’t a completely good or bad leadership style. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses depending on the scenario. That said, transformational leadership is one of the most fruitful leadership approaches.
Transformational leadership focuses on what the employees need, providing room for creativity and innovation. It encourages employees to participate actively in their own development.
Transformational leadership also focuses on having a clear vision. This creates a culture that motivates people because they know they’re a part of something bigger.