Transformational Leadership - Part 5 - Leadership Essay Example

Transformational Leadership



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There has been an increase in the interest in organizational leadership. Many researches have been carried out and a lot of literature written on this field of study. There are stories published on instances of successful leadership in different parts of the world. There are different explanations on what comprises successful organizational leadership (Bass and Avolio 1994).  Most leaders work hard to transform their organizations towards effectiveness and efficiency. Many of them have realized that the best way to achieve their vision is by empowering their followers and being an example of the effort required to transform the organization, its culture and ultimately its trajectory. They have discovered the need to challenge the subordinates to work past normal expectations and to encourage them to be creative and innovative. The leaders have realized that there is need for collective leadership capability within their organizations. This means that leadership is not only for the individuals at the top-management level (Aarons 2006). It is possible for leadership to take place at all levels of the organization and by any of the employees. As a matter of fact, it is helpful for the leaders to develop leadership in their subordinates. This motion is central to the concept of transformational leadership. The principles gotten from the concept are basic to effective leadership and are broadly relevant to many divisions of life, and more significantly to issues of social transformation. The idea of transformational leadership has captured widespread attention especially as far as organizational leadership is concerned (Bass and Riggio 2005). This paper seeks to explain the concept, transformational leadership and how can it help in increasing organization’s effectiveness.

Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is a concept in leadership that was developed in the late 1970s by James McGregor Burns. According to Burns “leaders and followers make each other to advance to a higher level of moral and motivation” (Burns 1978:23). The concept was originally developed for political leadership, but was enthusiastically adopted for organizational leadership as well as leadership in all the other spheres of life. Transformational leadership is one of the attempts to explain leadership in terms of personality and style rather than by purpose. After Burn many researchers expanded the theory. For instance Bernard M. Bass came up with the expanded version of Burn’s theory, referred to as Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory (Bass 1998). According to him the concept can be understood through the effect it has on the followers. He added that transformational leaders gain trust, respect, loyalty, and admiration from their followers. Bass added to the original concept of Burns to assist in explaining how transformational leadership can be gauged, as well as how it influences motivation and performance on the followers. The degree to which a leader is transformational is gauged through his influence on the subordinates. Since the leaders are willing to work very hard, they have a positive influence on their followers. They offer their followers something more than just self gain, such as inspirational mission or vision. They work together with their followers to achieve productivity (Bass 1998).

Transformational leadership can therefore be defined as leadership style that creates transformation on the followers with the aim of developing them into leaders. Transformational leadership “facilitates a redefinition of a people’s mission and vision, a renewal of their commitment and the restructuring of their systems for goal accomplishment. It is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents. Hence, transformational leadership must be grounded in moral foundations.

(Leithwood, as cited in Cashin et al. 2000:1). The leader focuses on changing others. The followers are encouraged to help each other, look out for the interests of each other, and look out for the interests of the organization as a whole. There are various mechanisms through which the leader improves the enthusiasm, morale, and performance of the subordinates. The mechanisms include linking the sense of self and identity of the followers to the mission and the united identity of the organization; being the role model; giving them a challenge to take more ownership of whatever they do; and understanding their strengths and weaknesses (Aarons 2006). By lining their self and identity to the mission and the collective identity of the organization, the followers will be able to identify themselves with, and work for the general good of the organization. Where the leader is a role model to his followers, he inspires and motivates them. Encouraging the employees to take greater ownership of what they do makes it possible for them to accomplish their tasks more effectively. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the workers, make it possible for the leader to align them with tasks that can optimize their performance. There are four basic components of transformational leadership. They are: idealized influence; intellectual stimulation; individualized consideration; and inspirational motivation (Bass and Avolio 1994).

Idealized influence

In transformational leadership, leaders operate in such a way that they act as role models for the subordinates. They are well-liked, respected, admired, and trusted by their followers. Due to the respect and trust, the subordinates identify with their leaders and emulate them. The leaders are considered by their followers as having astonishing abilities, perseverance, confidence, and strength of mind. There are two elements of idealized influence: the leader’s character and the characteristics that are attributed to him by the followers. Additionally, leaders with a great deal of idealized influence are always willing to assume risks and tend to be consistent instead of subjective. This is because of the qualities that their followers have attributed to them. They gain the confidence to venture into new markets and products as they are assured of support from their followers (Bass and Riggio 2005).

Inspirational motivation

Intellectual motivation refers to the degree to which leaders are able to express a vision that is appealing and inspiring to their followers. In transformational leadership, leaders tend to act in a way that motivate and inspire the people around them. This is because they provide meaning and challenge to the tasks carried out by their followers. In this leadership there is arousal of team spirit. The leader encourages the followers to work as a team where he/she is also involved. There is the displaying of enthusiasm and optimism (Gumusluoglu and Arzu 2009). Leaders get the subordinates to be involved in envisioning attractive future plans. The leaders develop plainly communicated prospects that subordinates want to meet and also show dedication to objectives and the collective vision. The idealized leadership together with inspirational motivation creates a distinct aspect of charismatic-inspirational leadership. This is a very significant kind of leadership style in organizations (Bass and Avolio 1994).

Intellectual stimulation

This is the degree at which the leaders are able to challenge suppositions, assume risk and solicit the ideas of their followers.  In transformational leadership, leaders stimulate their subordinates’ efforts in order to become innovative and creative. The leaders achieve this through questioning, reframing difficulties, and approaching past experiences in a new manner. Creativity and innovation is encouraged in the followers for the success of the organization. In transformational leadership there is no public criticism of a person’s mistakes or weaknesses. They are all approached positively to make the person involved better. Fresh ideas and creative problem solving approaches are requested from the followers. The followers are actively involved in addressing problems and looking for solutions (Aarons 2006). They are not left out and have solutions and decisions forced down on them. They are encouraged to experiment new approaches to problem solving and decision making. Even if their ideas are different from those of the leaders, they are not criticized. They are received and discussed by both the leaders and the followers. Problems are looked at from different angles, solutions proposed, and the best adopted regardless of whether they originate from the leaders or the followers. Involving the followers encourages them to work hard together with the leaders. The leaders nurture and develop individuals who are able to think independently. For transformational leaders, learning is a value and unanticipated circumstances are viewed as opportunities for learning. The followers are offered a chance to inquire, think deeply and figure out the best way of carrying out their responsibilities (Bass and Riggio 2005).

Individualized consideration

In transformational leadership, the leader pays attention to the needs of the followers for achievement and expansion by operating as a coach or mentor. The subordinates are provided with the chance to develop to the highest level possible. Individualized consideration is achieved through creation of new learning opportunities along with a supportive atmosphere. There is recognition of personal needs and desires (Gumusluoglu and Arzu 2009). The leaders are fully aware of the fact that their followers cannot perform well where their needs are not taken care of. The leaders behave in such a way that they demonstrate recognition of individual differences. This means that they provide support depending on the needs of an individual and not as a group. For instance, some of the followers will be given more encouragement, others more autonomy, others firm standards, and others additional task structure. All this depends on the individual abilities and needs. This kind of leadership encourages two-way exchange in communication. The leaders manage their organizations by walking around workspaces and constantly interacting with the workers. This creates a friendly working environment where the leaders are in close contact with the workers. The workers feel comfortable to air their needs to the leaders since they know that they will be taken care of (Bass and Riggio 2005).

The interactions with the workers are personalized. For example, the leader is able to remember past conversation, he is aware of personal needs and concerns, and is able to see the subordinate as a whole and not just an employee. The leaders are able to respect the workers and appreciate their efforts in making the organization better. The leaders listen carefully to everything the followers have to say without interrupting them or trying to prove that they are in control. There is delegation of duties to the followers since it is a way of developing them into leaders and getting things done more effectively (Conger 1999). The delegated responsibilities are closely monitored in order to find out whether there is need for additional support or direction and so as to assess progress. Ideally, the subordinates do not feel like they are being followed since they are already put in a position where there is trust. They realize that the supervision is for their individual development and for the good of the organization. The leaders spend enough time teaching and coaching the followers to make them better in their responsibilities. The idea behind this effort is to develop leadership in all levels of the organization. The leader offers his followers empathy and support. They are always there when their followers need them. Basically, there is encompassing of the need for respect and celebration of personal contribution to the team. Performance is always rewarded as a way of encouraging hard work. This creates in the followers a will and inspiration for personal growth and inherent motivation in their responsibilities (Gumusluoglu and Arzu 2009).

Transformational leadership and effectiveness

Management of CK Company requires transformational leadership to be able to increase its effectiveness and move to a higher level in performance. As already discussed, people with transformational leadership style are real leaders able to inspire their followers with collective vision. This kind of leadership is passed down to the subordinates strengthening the performance of the organization. A transformational leader inspires the subordinates and teaches them to be leaders. This means that CK Company will have leadership in all its levels. Once the top leaders are engaged, it is possible for the subordinates to organize themselves and have the operations of the company going on without interruption. This means that the operations of the organization do not have to be interrupted once the top management is unavailable or is engaging in something else. With decisions and solutions being encouraged from all levels of the organization, it is possible for operations of the organization to be more effective (Yukl 1994).

Through intellectual stimulation, there are adequate skill levels and experiences within the organization to have it move forward to greater levels. The top management can explore new markets or open up new branches without fear that the parent company will fall under. The leader has confidence with his followers and can therefore have a chance to take risks by finding new opportunities. There is also the possibility of coming up with new innovative and creative approaches to operations since this is encouraged by the leaders. This increases the effectiveness of the organization since the followers do not have to wait for their leaders for solutions. Additionally, more and better approaches are brought in from all levels within the organization (Conger 1999).

Transformational leaders are known to inspire their followers to perform beyond expectations. By working with the subordinates, the leaders influence them to productivity. The workers become effective since they have confident in what they do and can always inquire about anything that they do not understand. The leaders work in close contact and interacting with the subordinates. Once the management of the company realizes that human resource is one of the most important resources it has, and seeks to invest in it as required by transformational leadership, the company will surely be effective (Kotlyar and Karakowsky 2007).

The environment of CK Company is a radically changing one. Yukl (1994) defined transformational leadership as the process of influencing major changes in the attitudes and assumptions of organizational members and building commitment for the organization’s mission, objectives, and strategies (Yukl 1994:271).  This means that the workers in CK Company are equipped to adapt to the changing environment of the company. They are never caught by surprise since the leaders have prepared them adequately. Transformational leadership is the kind of leadership that enable for transformation within an organization by equipping the workers to face the changes. This means that even in the changing environment the company will be assured of being effective (Yukl 1994).

The effect of the leaders on their followers is another way that the organization can gain effectiveness. The followers of a transformational leader have trust, admiration, respect, and loyalty towards their leader (Kotlyar and Karakowsky 2007). This means that the followers are always ready to do more than initially expected of them. They are always ready to follow their leaders in any direction they lead them. This is not done in a dictatorial manner but due to the respect and admiration the leaders command from their followers. The leaders of CK Company are committed to the success of the company. This means that he will lead his faithful followers to towards this end. The leaders also respect the followers and are ready to work in a friendly environment. This is achieved through individualized consideration, where the needs of every individual are taken care of. The workers are thus motivated to work hard for their own development and ultimately for the good of the entire organization. Transformational leaders take into consideration the needs of their followers as well as their own and those of the organization. Through intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration, the company will be able to cultivate the approval of the collective mission and vision. The uniting of the workers towards one goal will increase the productivity of the organization (Peters and Waterman 1982).

Transformational leadership can help CK Company to achieve effectiveness through the adoption of a six-stage process: developing and communicating the organization’s need for change; working to overcome any resistance to the change; making individualized commitments and sacrifices; articulating a vision; creating commitment to the vision; and internalizing the vision. Once this is done, the organization needs to work together with the employees for the success of the organization. According to Sashkin (1987) transformational leaders offer the foundation for development of organizations that are very effective in terms of performance and productivity. Peters and Waterman (1982) argued that executive leadership was taken as one of the most important factors distinguishing the top 100 mid-size companies in the United States from their counterparts.

People we work with testify to the need to have a transformational leader. This is because such a leader is able to increase the influence at the top management level, improve their impact and effectiveness with everybody within the organization, participate in building the organization’s strategy and vision, and connect with the reality of the business. This means that the workers realize the need to transformational leadership and are willing to cooperate with such leaders for the benefit of the organization (Kotlyar and Karakowsky 2007).


This paper explains the concept, transformational leadership, and how can it help in increasing organization’s effectiveness. Transformational leadership is leadership style that creates transformation on the subordinates with the aim of developing them into leaders. Through idealized influence the leaders operate as role models to their followers thus being able to their respect, trust, admiration and loyalty. Through intellectual stimulation leaders are able to stimulate their followers to be more innovative and creative. Through individualized consideration the needs of each individual within the organization are taken care of. Through inspirational motivation the leaders are able to inspire and motivate their followers towards a common vision. Despite the fact that the effectiveness of an organization is as a result of various factors, transformational leadership is one of the key factors towards this end. There is evidence to testify to the fact that transformational leaders are capable of leading their organizations towards effectiveness.





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perspective on these developing streams of research. The Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), pp. 145-170

Gumusluoglu, L. & Arzu, I. 2009, Transformational leadership, creativity, and organizational

innovation. Journal of Business Research, 62, 461-473.

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Leadership & Organizational Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, 38-49

Peters, T., & Waterman, J. 1982, In Search of Excellence. Warner Books, New York.

Yukl, G. 1994, Leadership in Organizations (3rd Ed.). Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.


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