The I's of Transformational Leadership

April 29, 2014

Transformational leadership may be an adjustment to your behavior, but it can have beneficial effects.

There are numerous leadership styles that are practiced today by those serving in management positions. There is transactional, servant and transformational leadership styles. As a general rule, people utilize a combination of leadership styles throughout their day. I know I do. Transformational leadership was first introduced by James MacGregor Burns in 1978 as a process where “leaders and followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation.” Transformational leadership has been found to enhance employee mental health and result in higher levels of satisfaction. There are four elements to transformational leadership and they are as follows:

• Individual consideration. In this element, the leader considers and understands the needs of each individual. The leader acts more as a coach and a mentor. Assignments are given based on the talents and interest of the individual. The transformational leader also challenges the individual to go outside their comfort zone.

Intellectual stimulation. Transformational leaders encourage employees to use their creativity and critical thinking skills to solve problems. Employees are supported in their quest to reach their goals. It’s communicated that it is OK take risks and challenge the status quo.

Inspirational motivation. In this element the leader communicates a vision and purpose that inspires and motivates others. Goals, vision and strategy are communicated with optimism and confidence which gives the employees purpose and meaning and propels them forward.

Idealized influence. This element refers to the leaders actions as a role model. In essence, does the leader walk the talk and lead by example?  Remember that employees mirror your actions.  As leaders, we are always on a stage and our actions are closely watched.  If you want employees to demonstrate behavior that is positive and professional then as leaders we must emulate that behavior.

Transformational leadership is just one of many leadership styles in use today. As with any new behavior it will take a conscious effort to implement the elements which compromise this leadership style. If this style interests you, I suggest identifying two elements, start utilizing them until you are comfortable then implement the remaining two.