According to Pepsi Former Chairman and CEO, Indra Nooyi, “leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder”. There are so many qualities and attributes that a leader must possess that it is hard to pin them down. After all, there are different leadership styles and they are each effective in their own right. So, how do you choose the best leadership style that would be most effective for your organization?
Transformation leadership is emerging as a technique that is proven to work, no matter the type of your organization. It’s important to examine how transformational leaders differ from the others and why you need to adopt it for your organization.
What is Transformational Leadership?
One of the best definitions of transformational leadership is by the International Review of Management and Business Research. This type of leadership is characterized by the leaders’ ability to listen to the concerns of the individual followers, along with their developmental needs.
The goal is to identify old problems and see it in a new way. By changing one’s view of the problem, it is easier to see a new way of providing solutions and achieve your team’s ultimate goal.
The primary goal for transformation leaders is to inspire change while taking into account the interests and personal motivators of the members of the group.
Characteristics of Transformational Leadership
The success of transformational leadership relies heavily on the leader initiating this process. Therefore, it is important that s/he must possess the qualities of a good leader.
A transformation leader must possess the following characteristics and attributes:
- They are not controlled by their ego. The common mistake that leaders make is to let their ego control their decisions since they are in a position of power. However, transformational leaders focus on what is best for the team as a whole and not them as individuals.
- They are highly motivated. As an individual, transformational leaders want to perform their best and this is transferred onto the organization they lead. They want to direct the organization towards a certain path and they use their motivational mindset to inspire others to do the same.
- They are not afraid to take risks. As per the definition above, this type of leader is not afraid to try new ways to solve problems. As a team leader, the only way you can inspire transformation is by taking calculated risks so you can facilitate growth.
- They are not afraid to make difficult decisions. They take on the responsibility of being a leader seriously. They are ready to take the blame, which also means they can make decisions in a steadfast manner. Their decisions are based on the values and objectives of the organization.
- They are adaptable. They are ready to change their mindset and their decisions based on what is best for the organization at any given time. Transformational leaders understand that there are a variety of uncontrollable factors and they are open to trying creative ways to solve a problem.
- They are open to new ideas. An open-minded approach to problem solving and welcoming new ideas is another definitive characteristic of transformational leaders. It gives them a chance to explore new ways to approach problems and generate solutions in the most efficient manner.
- They are highly proactive. They are involved in every step of the organization’s growth and not just in terms of decision making. The best leaders want to oversee everything and to make sure that steps are being taken towards the goal.
- They lead with a vision. Visual and creative leadership is a vital attribute possessed by transformational leaders. This allows them to have a laser-focused approach towards achieving their goals.
Transformational Leadership vs Transactional Leadership
Transformational leadership is one of the ways that you can inspire innovation within your organization. However, this is just one of many management styles available for leaders to adopt. Transactional leadership is another common method employed by leaders.
It is important to note that these two leadership styles are the polar opposites of each other. It is important to clearly define each in order to understand what works best for your team.
Transformational leadership requires a leader to be involved in the daily aspects of running an organization. They are driven by the desire to help every member of the team achieve their next level of performance as you work towards the ultimate goal of success.
Transactional leadership, on the other hand, is concerned about ensuring that the organizational processes are running smoothly and efficiently. This type of leader uses discipline and incentives to motivate members of the team to deliver their best work. The term “transactional” is derived from the fact that rewards are used in exchange of better performance.
There are certain strengths and weaknesses for each of these leadership styles. Transactional leaders are able to identify and address small issues in an efficient manner and can keep members of the team in check. On the flip side, transformational leaders are all about the big picture. They are focused on exploring new ideas that would deliver better results or enable the team to achieve their target in the most efficient way possible.
You can choose your desired management and leadership style based on what works best for your team members and end goal.
Transformational Leadership Pros and Cons
Any form of leadership style has its own sets of pros and cons. The same can be said of transformational leadership.
Here are some of the potential benefits that you can get with this type of leadership.
- It brings all members of your team together in an effort to achieve a common goal.
- It can foster honesty and open communication within all members of the team.
- It can reduce the costs associated with employee turnover.
- It can encourage a change in vision, mindset, and culture within the organization.
- It will help your team manage and adapt to change with ease.
- It can boost morale among your employees.
- It gives plenty of freedom for the members of your team.
At the same time, you must also be aware of the potential drawbacks and challenges to this leadership style.
- It can be intimidating for some members of your team to adopt the big-picture vision at the same level as the leader.
- It can make you lose a sense of focus.
- It can be disruptive for some organizations.
- It can increase pressure among team members due to higher expectations for improved performance.
- It will require constant and effective communication to succeed.
Transformational leadership is more than just a buzzword. It is introducing a new way to manage teams and get employees to perform beyond their own limitations. If you want to influence the members of your team to keep an open-minded approach to providing solutions for existing business challenges and inspiring a vision of the future, this is something worth adapting in your organization.