Transformational Leadership: Definition, Pros/Cons And Examples

Mashum Mollah 17 August, 2022
transformational leadership style

Transformational leadership style.

Leaders are the ones who lead their followers. It is not always necessary to have a title to become a leader. A true leader always makes a path for others and motivates and inspires others to do better.

But there are different types of leadership styles present. You just need to make sure that you are choosing the most effective one for your company.

And in order to do that, you need to ensure that you have proper knowledge and understanding of the major leadership styles. Here, I will guide you with all the necessary information about the transformational leadership style.


What Is Transformational Leadership Style?

What Is Transformational Leadership Style?

Leaders are meant to lead.

Now, suppose a leader is performing his or her role so effectively that they are gaining the respect, trust, appreciation, and loyalty of all those people who follow them.

This altogether changes, or I should say it transforms, the behavior of the people around them. This transformational style of leadership emphasizes encouragement, motivation, guidance, and inspiration.

That means a transformational leader is one who leads by setting examples while implementing workplace systems that support employee growth, morale, and well-being.

All those leaders who usually utilize this particular leadership style mostly focus on applying some specific skills, such as teamwork, empathy, creativity, and flexibility, in order to inspire their employees to achieve workplace goals.

Let’s discuss some examples of transformational leadership styles, that way; you will be able to understand the concept of this style more clearly.

  • Identifying common objectives and goals.
  • Aligning the interests and identity of the company with those of its employees.
  • Challenging employees or team members to take responsibility. 
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement along with developing a vision to match that. 
  • Providing team members control over their duties and jobs. 

Background/History Of Transformational Leadership

The concept of transformational leadership is basically a blend of the original theories of Burns and the additional adaptations by Avolio and Bass. 

All this started in 1978 when James MacGregor Burns gestateed transforming leadership as a part of his own FRLM or Full Range Leadership Model. As per him, there are 2 mutually exclusive types of leadership;

  • Transformational, 
  • And transforming.
James MacGregor Burns

As per Burns, when leaders build their followers and motivate and inspire them to achieve extraordinary levels of goals, transforming leadership occurs. 

Further, Bruce Avolio and Bernard Bass developed the FRLM. there, they talked about 3 leadership styles; 

  • Transformational,
  • Transactional,
  • And laissez-faire.

You might be surprised to know that Bass was the first one to use the “transformational” term for describing this particular leadership style. They completely ignored that transactional and transformational leadership are mutually exclusive.

Bruce Avolio and Bernard Bass

In fact, they believe that both styles can be used by the same leader. Avolio and Bass believed that the transformational leadership style is the most desirable leadership form.

Characteristics Of Transformational Leadership

For the successful implementation of a transformational leadership style, a number of characteristics are required. In order to become a successful transformational leader, you need to have as many skills and characteristics as possible. 

Characteristic 1: Communication Skills

Communication Skills

Well, well, well!

Communication is the key to a transformational leadership style. You have to be a pretty good communicator. Using stories and metaphors is not at all a bad idea as a part of communicating. 

Your communication should be a two-way action, which means you also have to be a good listener. 

Characteristic 2: Persistence And Passion

Persistence And Passion

Persistence and passion are one of the most prominent characteristics of the transformational leadership style. That means you are required to be passionate and persistent about what you do. 

Never forget to show optimism and enthusiasm, and consider failure an impossibility. If you will not believe in yourself, how will other people believe in you? 

Characteristic 3: Role Model

Role Model

When you are going to set high targets and expectations, you need to be a role model for your team. For courage, strong values, and a sense of ethics, people will look to you. They will learn from you. 

So, you have to be stable and emotionally mature enough. Clowning off steam or having various attitudes on a weekly basis are strict no’s. 

Characteristic 4: Visionary And Strategic

Visionary And Strategic

With a transformational leadership style, a big portion of success rests on the vision of the future and also an understanding of how to get there. The vision has to be strong enough to inspire. 

At the same time, it also has to be realistic enough so that people can believe it. You also need to communicate it properly in order to make a good vision reality. 

Characteristic 5: Coaching And Ever Learning

Coaching And Ever Learning

Whenever you are thinking about transforming people, you have to consider coaching, amongst other processes. That means you have to be effective in coaching and also mentoring others. 

This is applicable to yourself as well, as transformational leaders should never make a halt on learning. So, continue learning from your own mistakes and also others so that you know what you need to do. 

Characteristics 6: Self-Awareness


You first need to know and understand yourself as a transformational leader. You must understand how you are capable of affecting others. For most leadership styles, it is a must. 

Knowing your strengths along with weaknesses will always help you to get out everything that you have to offer others. 

Characteristics 7: Emotionally Intelligent

Emotionally Intelligent

To be honest, it is really challenging to be good at communication, coaching, inspiring others, knowing yourself, and being a role model in case you are not emotionally intelligent enough. 

Transformational leaders always have to be emotionally intelligent in order to complete their visions. 

Transformational Leadership: What’s Good…And What’s Not So Good?

The transformational leadership style is one of the most popular and effective leadership styles when it comes to motivating employees and improving their productivity. 

But along with some good traits, it comes with some bad things as well. Here, we will discuss both the good and bad of the transformational leadership style. 

The Benefits Of Transformational Leadership: Pros

Now, I will talk about the major advantages of the transformational leadership style. Here, I will offer you a complete insight into the positives of transformational leadership. Here are the major advantages.

  • Promotes Motivation.
  • Defines A Clear Goal And Vision.
  • Maintains Workplace Integrity.
  • Encourages Professional Development.
  • Enhances Loyalty Along With Decreases turnover.
  • Encourages Passion.
  • Improves Communication.
  • Eases Transitions.

Now, I will explain each and every advantage I’ve mentioned above. 

1. Promotes Motivation

Motivation is one of the most important things for your employees or team members to perform well. 

And transformational leadership style focuses on improving employee motivation that can encourage team members to become more productive along with achieving their goals. 

When it comes to motivating employees, leaders can opt for external incentives, such as recognition or bonuses, or use internal motivators.

Here, a transformational leader might encourage motivation by knowing every team member as an individual, along with learning about their interests and also personal goals. All those employees who feel motivated in the workplace might be more likely to touch their production goals and also feel satisfied with their work.

2. Defines A Clear Goal And Vision

Transformational leadership also revolves around defining clear goals which fulfill the vision for an organization, team, project, or department. When you have a vision for a project, it will help all the members of the same project team to understand its value. 

It eventually improves motivation and also encourages commitment. When everyone in your team believes in the value of the work your employees are doing, they might feel more dedicated to achieving a higher level of performance. 

This will always assist your teams in making progress toward both long-term and short-term goals, which support the overall objectives of the business. 

3. Maintains Workplace Integrity

When I am talking about the transformational leadership style, I must say that the management style of this specific leadership style encourages employees to focus on all those current tasks at the same time while acting in the best interests of the organization. 

Originality, clarity, and essential values, like integrity and honesty, are all crucial for transformational leaders. 

In order to maintain the integrity of an organization, a transformational leader always treats every employee equally, conducts self-assessments, rewards honesty, and also encourages open communication.

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4. Encourages Professional Development

Along with motivating your team members to meet business and project goals, a transformational leadership style encourages professional development. It basically inspires employees to grow their skill sets, develop professional abilities, and take on new challenges to advance in their careers. 

When team members get support from their leaders, they might be more willing to take risks along with pursuing challenges, which leads to professional and personal growth. 

5. Enhances Loyalty Along With Decreases Turnover

Transformational leaders always make every team member feel like a valuable part of the organization. Transformational leaders help employees feel empowered, engaged, and committed to helping the company succeed. 

All those employees who feel valued in their workplace and believe that their work contributes meaningfully to their goals might be more likely to stay with their company. 

Here, maintaining employee loyalty holds the potential to reduce the costs of turnover along with retaining employee team members who are effective in their roles. 

6. Encourages Passion

The transformational leadership style is mostly about encouraging passion among the team members. When your employees see that you, as their leader, are enthusiastic about a new objective or perspective, they might become enthusiastic also. 

All those leaders who have faith in their work might encourage others in order to see the value of their projects along with a commitment to them. 

In addition to that, transformational leaders work towards understanding the motivations and passions of their team members. They generate opportunities for their team members in order to apply their interests and passions to their work. 

This way, the employees get the chance to utilize their best skills while contributing to project goals. 

7. Improves Communication

Leaders with a transformational management style encourage excellent communication among all the team members and between supervisors and employees. They might lead by example. 

They also can use excellent communication skills while establishing their particular expectations with all the team members. 

Communication skills always involve the usage of directness in order to express expectations and concerns, along with practicing active listening. It also includes asking questions to gain clarity and insight. 

Leaders who are capable of demonstrating excellent communication skills might also create workplace environments that prioritize open communication. 

8. Eases Transitions

Effective change management strategies are being used in a transformational leadership style. Just having an effective transition plan along with preparing employees for the change can actually minimize the impact of the transition.

By offering additional employee support, developing a system that simplifies the work process during transitions, and openly communicating about expectations, a transformational leader can always ease transitions. 

At the same time, leaders also can provide more flexibility to their employees during the changing time. 

The Disadvantages Of Transformational Leadership: Cons

Just like everything else, the transformational leadership style also comes with some disadvantages or drawbacks. Here, we will now talk about the negative sides of the transformational leadership style. 

First, let’s get an insight into the major ones of transformational leadership. 

  • Prioritizes Long-term Goals Over Short-term Goals.
  • Needs Continuous Communication.
  • Increases Potential For Burnout.
  • Slows Decision-Making.

Now, I will provide you with an in-detail insight into all the drawbacks I have mentioned above. 

1. Prioritizes Long-term Goals Over Short-term Goals

Transformational leadership is mostly focused on the long-term goals of any project. So, when it comes to short-term goals, it might focus less. It means that the particular approach of transformational leadership style, the approach might be less structured in how it becomes effective toward long-term goals. 

Yes, it also allows flexibility with how teams move towards goals, but leaders might require to balance their focus using management strategies, and that too, of course, in combination with a transformational leadership style. 

For example, they might need to work with individual team members to set short-term goals and can offer direction and structure for meeting project milestones along with supporting member contributions. This also includes empowering them to define their individual objectives. 

2. Needs Continuous Communication

The transformational leadership style needs continuous effective communication for maintenance. For leaders, it is really challenging as they try to manage or be responsible for managing multiple responsibilities. 

In order to be effective, transformational leadership often needs leaders to hold open communication policies with their employees to receive and obviously give feedback. 

This is really effective for small teams or those teams in different industries, where all members collaborate frequently; it might be less practical in the rest of the workplaces. So, as a leader, you need to consider your workplace and also the work style of your team in order to determine the most suitable communication methods for your needs. 

3. Increases Potential For Burnout

Transformational leadership promotes employee motivation, and transformational leaders using this particular style might be required to account for how their employees or team members are achieving a healthy work-life balance.

All transformational leaders always encourage their team members to grow professionally, along with meeting a high performance and productivity standard. This obviously helps the employees find value in what they are doing, and they work hard towards goals.

Here, when the employee emphasizes balance, that might reduce the potential for burnout. When employees are able to work towards their professional goals along with upholding their personal requirements and obligations through the support of leaders, they also might feel more fulfilled in the workplace. 

4. Slows Decision-Making

When it comes to the transformational leadership style, it always involves getting input from every member of a work team; the decision-making process automatically gets slower. 

Taking the insights of all the members might offer valuable perspectives, but it might not be practical for every decision. Here, the leaders are required to assess when they should induce everyone into the decision-making process and when to make the decision on behalf of the team. 

All those leaders who usually work with smaller teams and collaborate too often might utilize group decision-making tactics more often than those who work with larger teams.

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Transformational Leadership: Case Studies (Examples)

Now, you get a basic understanding of the transformational leadership style along with its advantages and drawbacks. Here we will discuss some great examples of transformational leadership. So that you get a complete understanding of that. 

Case Study 1: Sir Richard Branson (1950 To present)

Sir Richard Branson

The founder of the Virgin Group, Branson, is one of the perfect examples of a transformational leader. He completely believes that in case you are capable of motivating your people and utilizing their creative potential, you can always get through the bad times while enjoying the good times together. 

When your employees are smiling and happy and enjoying their work, they will always perform well. This particular philosophy is part of the reason why he has formed the Branson Center for Entrepreneurship, which has multiple locations in different countries.

Every company heavily depends on supporting creativity and innovation. 

Case Study 2: Lee Iacocca (1924 To 2019)

Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca, the CEO of Chrysler in the 80s, is popular for developing Pinto and Mustang cars during the time he was employed at Ford during the 1960s. Later in 1970, he ended up as the president of Ford. 

During the end of the same decade, he shifted to Chrysler, and until 1992, he served there as its CEO.

The whole world was astonished by his performance when he transformed Chrysler from the edge of bankruptcy to a highly profitable organization. He developed a vision and also mobilized all employees in order to reach it; during the same time, he let go of 60,000 employees.

Lee Iacocca also challenged the status quo and instilled a culture of efficiency and innovation, along with trimming the cost of the company.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

I believe after going through this article, you will get an understanding of the transformational leadership style. In case you have any queries, you can directly reach me. I will try to come up with a solution as soon as possible.

Till then, I am answering some most common questions that I think you also might have in your head.

Q1: How To Become A Transformational Leader?

Now, you know, “what is a transformational leadership style?” Now, it is time to know how you can become a transformational leader.
When you are thinking about becoming an effective transformational leader, there are some golden rules that you need to follow along with deploying and implementing a transformational leadership style.
All these rules are really focused on the team, communication, passion, and also having situational awareness. Here are some major things you need to take care of.
1. Take enough time and understand your team. 
2. Always communicate with your team effectively and listen to them. 
3. It is crucial to develop situational awareness. 
4. Enhance your change management skills; you will always need them in the future. 
5. Don’t forget to be passionate.

Q2: Is Transformational Leadership Effective?

In comparison to transactional leadership, transformational leadership is more effective. Also, there is empirical evidence that states that a transformational leadership style is crucial in assisting people in elevating efficiency and effectiveness within an organization.

Let’s Learn And Grow!

I believe after going through this article you get to learn a lot. I will always welcome your views on this. And for more information about leadership skills and team management, you can follow Mashum Mollah and my site.

Keep learning and growing!

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Mashum Mollah

Mashum Mollah is a tech entrepreneur by profession and passionate blogger by heart. He is on a mission to help small businesses grow online. He shares his journey, insights, and experiences in this blog. If you are an entrepreneur, digital marketing professional, or simply an info-holic, then this blog is for you.

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