4 Steps to Becoming a Transformational Leader

Written By: Eva Rykrsmith
March 13, 2013
2 min read

You can be a good manager without being a good leader. You can be a good leader without being a good manager. You can be a good leader without being a transformational leader.

James MacGregor Burns first used the term transformational leadership in 1978 to describe a process in which “leaders and followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation.”

Non-transformational leadership encompasses traditionally expected tasks: managing, supervising, organizing work, and monitoring performance. This is also your pre-work. If you have considerable room for improvement with these basics, now may not be the right time to jump in head first with transformational leadership.

Outcomes of Transformational Leadership

  • Create a supportive environment where responsibility is shared
  • Encourage actions that support the organization rather than personal interests
  • Break through status quo; have freedom to set strategy and change direction
  • Earn genuine trust, respect, and admiration from your team
  • Influence performance and business impact beyond expectations

1. Personalize Your Management Style

Give Individualized Consideration.

Adapt your leadership style to the different personalities, needs, and skills of your team. Act as a mentor or a coach more so than a boss. Assign and delegate work based on talents and interests, but also challenge their comfort zones. Support their career development independently of their tenure with you and show concern for their well-being as people not just as workers.

2. Encourage Creativity

Provide Intellectual Stimulation.

Foster innovation by challenging assumptions about what can and cannot be done. React to mistakes and failures in a way that shows that you condone risk-taking. Give your support, provide resources, and remove barriers to change. Approach problems as learning opportunities. Think twice when people agree with you; show you value independent thinking and reward people who challenge you.

3. Guide, Motivate, and Inspire

Exude Inspirational Motivation.

Guide your team in the direction you want the group to go by setting a vision, strategy, and goals. Motivate them to bring their best by expressing your passion, communicating with confidence and optimism, and connecting tasks to a greater purpose. Your work doesn’t stop there; inspire them to act by continuously engaging their talents, re-recruiting their spirit, and celebrating successes.

4. Be a Role Model

Embody Idealized Influence.

Act with integrity and ethical standards; with both your behaviors and your words. Just as small children mimic and emulate their parents, your team will take note of what you do and use it as a template for how they act and behave. It happens automatically and subconsciously, whether the behavior is positive or negative—people will follow your example. It will happen with intention for transformational leaders—people will strive to be like you.

Written By: Eva Rykrsmith
Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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