Transformational Leadership

Key Idea

The concept of a transformational leader is attributed to James MacGregor Burns, who argued that leadership is either transactional or transformational. While the transactional leader emphasizes a tit-for-tat motivational style (e.g., if you do this well, I’ll reward you in this way), the transformational leader focuses on listening and caring, empowering others, and inspiring a commitment to a goal or outcome that’s more important than any one person.

Book to Read

Transformational Leadership
by Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio (2006, 2nd edition) 

Quick Take from the Book

There are four core components of a transformational leader:

  1. Idealized Influence (serving as a role model, someone who can be trusted).
  2. Inspirational Motivation (creating meaning and purpose for the team).
  3. Intellectual Stimulation (questioning assumptions, encouraging new approaches).
  4. Individualized Consideration (supporting and caring for others).

Quote of Note

"Research evidence from around the world suggests that transformational leadership typically provides a positive augmentation in leader performance beyond the effects of transactional leadership. Furthermore, transformational leadership should be a more effective form of leadership globally because the transformational leader is consistent with people’s prototypes of an ideal leader. Of course, there are cultural contingencies, as well as organizational factors, that can affect the impact of transformational leadership in particular instances. However, authentic transformational leadership has an impact in all cultures and organizations because transformational leaders have goals that transcend their own self-interests and work toward the common good of the followers." – Bass and Riggio

Related Styles: Authentic Leadership, Exemplary Leadership, Appreciative Leadership

Return to List of Leadership Styles