It is no secret that strong leadership is central to the success of any organization. To continually motivate people and to seamlessly harness talent, leaders must effectively communicate with, delegate to, and mentor employees, whilst inspiring them to pursue the organization’s vision and mission.
Throughout history, great leaders have emerged, each with particular leadership styles. Generally, most leaders adapt their leadership styles to suit their situation. To become a more successful leader, however, there is a need for leaders to constantly switch among different types of leadership styles – which doesn’t always come instinctively or easily.
In general, people tend to employ leadership styles that are rooted in their innate preferences, personalities, and backgrounds. While biasing toward this natural tendency is really not a bad thing, sticking only to one style may stifle organizational growth. It is a common phenomenon that organizations transform constantly, and it is important for leaders to be able to adapt to new situations and change their leadership style to meet the current needs of their organization.
Transformational leadership is a management philosophy that encourages and inspires employees to innovate and develop new ways to accelerate growth and pave the way for the organization’s future success. Using this style, transformational leaders give their trusted employees the independence to make decisions and support new problem-solving approaches.
A key trait for transformational leaders is that they are found to be passionate about their work and the organization’s mission. They tend to use intellectual stimulation and inspirational motivation to help add to employee empowerment and job satisfaction. It has been observed that they identify business processes that no longer work and focus on streamlining or changing them as needed.
Any leaders should have these core leadership characteristics: a) Good Judgement b) Communication Skills, c) Competence or Knowledge, d) Interpersonal Skills, and e) Confidence. While they are very important for leaders to have these core characteristics, there is another level of leadership characteristics that are “must haves” for transformational leaders.
Over the last decade or two, the field of transformational leadership received special focus and many studies were conducted to more fully describe the key aspects of that leadership style. Bernard Bass and Bruce Avolio developed and refined a theory and measurement of transformational leadership that comprised of four “I” s of transformational leadership:
The foundation of transformational leadership is promoting a consistent vision, mission, and values to the members. Their vision is so compelling that they know what they want from every interaction.
Inspirational Motivation is the degree to which a leader articulates an appealing vision that inspires and motivates others to perform beyond expectations. Leaders who use inspirational motivation have high standards and expectation for their followers.
They are optimistic about followers’ ability to meet goals and they always provide meaning to their followers through showing the importance of all duties and responsibilities. In fact, they are able to motivate their followers to have a strong sense of purpose so they provide purpose and meaning to drive their group forward. This encourages followers to invest more effort in their tasks and to be optimistic about the future and to invest in their own abilities.
Intellectual Stimulation is the extent to which transformational leaders challenge assumptions, take risks and solicit ideas from their followers. Such transformational leaders recognize followers through stimulation, creativity and innovation. Followers’ mistakes are not publicly criticized, and creativity is openly encouraged.
These leaders support and collaborates with the followers as they try new approaches and develop innovative ways of dealing with organizational issues. They encourage followers to think things out on their own and encourages followers to think independently so that followers become autonomous.
Transformational leaders who show Idealized Influence believe in the philosophy that a leader can influence followers only when he practices what he preaches. Therefore, the idealized influence becomes the charismatic element of transformational leadership in which leaders become role models who are admired, respected, and emulated by followers.
These leaders usually have very high standards of moral and ethical conduct and can be considered to doing the right thing. They are deeply respected by followers, who usually place a great deal of trust in them. They provide followers with a sense of vision and mission.
It is the extent to which a leader attends to each follower’s needs and is a mentor, coach or guide to the follower. This leader listens to the concerns and needs of each follower and provides support and is empathic of each person’ situation and background.
When a leader shows individualized consideration, s/he is also aware of the unique talents that each follower brings to the workplace and support them in developing and demonstrating these key skills and behaviors. This leads the follower to aspire to develop further and they show intrinsic motivation when performing their work.
A transformational leader goes beyond managing day-to-day operations and crafts strategies for taking his/her organization or group to the next level of performance and success. Followers respect and trust transformational leaders, so they confirm their values to those of the leaders and yield power to them
While transformational leaders are often admired, they don’t seek out praise or adulation because their focus is on doing what’s best for their organization. Risk taking is calculated and it is generally based on gathering intelligence from team members, the leader’s own instincts and experience. Decisions are made with an eye toward the organization’s values, vision and objectives.