With everyone jumping on the bandwagon, Transformational Leadership is now being seen as the silver bullet to all management problems. Businesses all around the world are throwing around the word, but what exactly is it? Transformational Leadership conjures up images of inspiration and change, but how can we describe it?
There are 4 core tenets that are agreed upon
1) Intellectual Stimulation
This is a leader which believes in work that engages. Rather than provide a rigid set instructions, the leader instead seeks to transform workers into thinkers who can instruct themselves.
The leader is always ready to be challenged. Nothing is true: All is to be questioned and discussed. By doing this, a culture of critical thinking is set into place. Learning is not a side-objective but instead a vital part of the working process.
This element of Transformational Leadership borrows from ideas such as democratic leadership; workers are encouraged to participate and share ideas in the course of the project.
This tenet is extremely important in forming Transformational Leadership: If an employee does not feel as though their work is engaging and stimulation, then a leader cannot dream of transforming anything.
2) Individualized Consideration
No one’s getting transformed if they feel that they are merely pawns in a leader’s game. An important component of this leadership style is the ability to recognize an individual as being more than a mere worker.
In order to do this, the leader has to build up a personal relationship with that employee. This can be done by acknowledging work they have done, talking to them every now and then or listening to their needs.
By doing this, the leader is viewed as more than a manager or boss: They are seen as someone who genuinely cares about an employee, perhaps even seen as a friend. This is important in order to create an environment where people take up personal stakes in a project and feel an inherent desire to perform well, because they are being recognized as individual contributors.
3) Idealized Influence
To put it in more simple terms, the leader becomes a role model. By having a strong work ethic, showing respect to others and being trustworthy, the leader implies that his followers should act similarly. If coupled with the previous 2 tenets of transformational leadership, the leader would have built up a strong method of implicitly influencing others.
While similar to the style of pace-setting leadership, the Transformational Leader is less explicit and demanding. Rather than make it clear that he/she is to be followed, they subtly give encouragement that their methods are the way forward.
4) Inspirational Motivation
Rather than rely on external incentives such as money or benefits, the leader seeks to inspire a worker from within. By giving meaning and purpose in a project, people are to devote more time and energy because of the leader. This element allows the leader to change the workplace to perform beyond its normal ability.
There you have it: The 4 popular tenets of Transformational Leadership. Through a combination of those 4 elements, we get a semblance of Transformational Leadership.