characteristic of transformational leadership

Characteristics of Transformational Leadership – The 4 I’S

Transformational leadership is a theory of leadership where a leader collaborates with teams or followers beyond their immediate self-interests to identify needed change, develop a vision to guide the change through inspiration and influence, and carry out the change with the help of devoted group members;

The followers’ levels of maturity and ideals rise along with their concerns for the goal as a result of this change in self-interests. It’s a crucial component of the Full Range Leadership Model. When a leader’s actions have an impact on followers and motivate them to go above and beyond what they think is possible, this is known as transformational leadership.

People are motivated to accomplish unexpected or spectacular achievements via transformational leadership. It grants employees control over particular tasks as well as the power to decide after receiving the necessary training. As a result, the organization as a whole and the followers’ attitudes change for the better.

In this article, we give a few examples of transformational leadership, outlining the actual traits that a transformational leader must possess in order to be successful.

characteristics of transformational leadership

Transformational Leadership in History

Many historical figures, like Medgar Evers, Queen Elizabeth, Sojourner Truth, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, and others, have demonstrated transformative leadership. Before the word “transformational leadership” even existed, these people altered the path of history.

However, transformational leadership involves more than merely implementing change. Adolf Hitler, for instance, drastically altered Germany in the 1930s. Was he an inspiring leader? Hitler was not, by Burns’ definition, which takes moral principles into account. Hitler pretended to be a moral crusader, but his actions were totally at odds with what he said. Although we don’t expressly mention it in our definition, morality does play a role in transformative leadership.

Transformational Leadership in Business

In today’s most forward-thinking businesses around the globe, transformational leadership is commonplace. These organizations’ management could have been happy with their already impressive market positions. Transformative leadership, on the other hand, encourages them to excel outside of their main businesses. Leaders who made the decision to find new market opportunities and strengthen the sustainability of their market dominance were in charge.

Netflix : 

Netflix transitioned from DVD mail-order rentals to streaming movies and entertainment straight to customers under the direction of co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings.

According to Hastings, “Incredible people don’t want to be micromanaged.” We manage through setting context and letting people run.


Jeff Bezos had an unquenchable dream, despite the fact that Amazon wasn’t the first company to sell books to customers via dial-up modems. He aimed to have the largest online “everything store.” The business is prepared to upend even more established brick-and-mortar sectors, like the grocery industry, as he steps down as CEO in 2021.


Mobile phones and media technologies were just two of the major industry disruptors that posed a threat to Microsoft’s market dominance. With its sophisticated cloud technology, the corporation has once again excelled under Satya Nadella’s leadership and vision.

This is merely a brief list. The most forward-thinking businesses of today have persisted in growing their market shares, utilising new technology, and creating cutting-edge goods and services despite the current market and economic difficulties.

Characteristics of a Transformational Leader

It’s true that the phrase “transformational leadership” has come and gone, possibly even becoming a buzzword. Other hypotheses, such as the visionary, honest, and collaborative ones, have recently surfaced. They overlap, and many effective leaders combine a number of different types. But organizations that wish to remake themselves or reimagine the future are best served by transformational leadership.

Certain traits can be used to describe transformational leadership. The next generation of transformational leaders in your firm will likely display these traits.

Avoid Egos:

Your ego desires to be in charge. Yes, it can safeguard you. However, it can also stop you from growing and learning by shutting out or dismissing other people’s viewpoints. The interests of their team and their company come before their own personal benefit, and transformational leaders work to keep their egos in check. They also inspire faith in the process, which boosts overall firm success.


Typically, transformational leaders do not require external direction. They are able to set priorities, choose a plan of action, and accept responsibility for the results. They also know how to motivate those around them by drawing on their own inherent drive. These CEOs work at what they love, and the organizations they oversee share their beliefs.

Ability of Taking Risks: 

Transformational leaders get over irrational concerns and assess risks in light of constraints, organizational competencies, and organizational vision. Right behind them, the team of a transformative leader is doing the necessary investigation to properly assess the circumstances. Transformational leaders never let self-satisfaction and complacency stop them from taking calculated risks.

Proactive Approach: 

Transformational leaders benefit from being proactive in two different ways. First, it aids in risk mitigation and problem prevention through the early detection of problems. Second, it assists them in transforming obstacles into chances. This leadership style may result in creative answers to issues that the client may not even be aware of.

Inspire the people around them:

People look for inspiration. The most motivating leaders are probably those who are transformational. They are able to inspire others to rise to the challenge. They treat each employee as a valued individual and take the time to understand what inspires them, rather than simply providing formal recognition for a job well done.

Share collective organizational consciousness:

The collective consciousness of the entire organization is shared and understood by a transformative leader. This makes them particularly sensitive to the emotions of their team members and offers them a thorough understanding of the techniques to use to motivate workers. They can make decisions that promote growth and develop a shared vision for the company that all employees can identify with since they are connected to the organizational consciousness.

Hunt for new ideas:

 If a leader is not receptive to fresh ideas, transformation is rarely possible. Transformational leaders are aware that teamwork is essential to success and that progress can only occur in settings where new ideas are welcomed, whether they are top-down or bottom-up.

 Lead with a vision:

Transformational leaders set an inspiring, yet realistic and achievable, vision for the organization. They are adept at mobilising others to create the necessary change that will actualise a different outcome. To do this, they must communicate effectively, cultivating a sense of purpose, commitment, and belonging. Once they achieve buy-in to the common vision, transformational leaders are able to guide the organization in a direction that will increase the long-term viability of the company.

The 4 I’s of Transformational Leadership:

Burns’ theories were further developed in 1985 by Binghamton University professor and leadership expert Bernard M. Bass, who created the Bass Transformational Leadership Theory, which outlines four essential elements of transformational leadership:

Intellectual Stimulation: 

Transformational leaders challenge the status quo and even seasoned leaders’ presumptions by questioning the mentality of “this is how we’ve always done it.” They promote this same mentality among their staff members. This calls for a focus on fresh encounters, fresh chances, and innovative ways of thinking.

The transformational leader eliminates the “fear factor” from work by stressing the opportunities to grow and learn rather than the results of the efforts, encouraging staff to always be learning and looking for and acting upon possibilities rather than playing it safe.

Individual Consideration:

The capacity to communicate an understanding of the wider culture to the individual, fostering a sense of freedom and ownership among employees, is one of the important characteristics of transformative leadership.

Transformative leaders do not dictate policies from a bubble and then rely on their team members to implement them. They establish wholesome relationships with their staff members and care about their professional growth. This entails maintaining open lines of communication, catering to each employee’s specific needs, guiding them, and appreciating their particular contributions.

A transformational leader is frequently identified by the respect, trust, and adoration others have for them. Leaders who transform do not micromanage. They show leadership by articulating a distinct vision and fostering an environment where seasoned workers are trusted to make decisions in their specialised fields. All staff members are urged to use their imaginations to come up with fresh answers to persistent problems.

Inspirational Motivation:

Employees expect their leaders to present an inspiring and deserving vision. To do this, transformational leaders must communicate a vision so effectively that their followers internalise it and adopt the objective of realising it as their own. Giving workers a clear sense of purpose and establishing high standards and expectations for success are the first steps in achieving this.

Instead of being sparked by fear, achievement is motivated by leadership. High standards and expectations are set for themselves by transformational leaders, who subsequently serve as role models for their team members and the entire organization. Their activities transfer to their followers the same enthusiasm they feel for a project, a goal, or the overall company vision. In order to accomplish their aims, employees now have a strong sense of purpose and a “mission attitude.”

Idealised Influence:

 As was already established, the best approach to inspire employees to work hard is to lead by example. Employees look up to transformational leaders in every manner. This also entails setting an example of morally upright and virtuous conduct, remaining committed to professional objectives, and demonstrating excitement for business strategy.

Respect and trust are the cornerstones of this influence. Employees appreciate and trust leaders who have achieved idealised influence because they know they will act in their best interests, not just “for the welfare of the organization,” but also for the team and each member individually. With this confidence, workers develop into followers who aspire to imitate and internalise the values of their superiors.


I hope this article was helpful for you and you would love to read another article on:
What Is the Difference Between Transactional and Transformational Leadership?

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