Being a leader is difficult and choosing a leadership style to suit you is hard enough. From strategic to autocratic, knowing different leadership styles and how they can benefit a situation is crucial. Global creative change agency, Impact, discusses the place for transformational leadership in the workplace, and why your workplace needs this new approach.

Transformational leadership: what is it?

Firstly, we need to understand what this method of leadership entails. Transformational leadership was introduced by James McGregor Burns in his 1978 book titled, “Leadership.” He defined the phrase as a process where “leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation”.

Essentially, a transformational leader will inspire their employees to be the best they can be. Successful transformational leadership can make the organisation and its workforce adaptive to change and hyperaware of the industry that they’re operating in.

A good example of a transformational leader is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He recognised the potential interest in cloud technology and made it the company’s primary strategy — a success that changed the face of the company. Another example is Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe Systems — he was able to create a vision for digital marketing services and pushed the business in that direction. 

Bringing transformational leadership to your company

Let’s look now at how you can implement a transformational leadership strategy to your workplace. It all starts with the actions and attitudes of the leader.

Building true connections with your workforce is vital for this approach to succeed. This can be achieved by organising regular one-to-one sessions to monitor the employees progress in the company, the areas that they can improve and hearing their ideas about the business. Building these relationships are important as it will lead to the employee trusting the leader, their vision and any changes in the business that are proposed. The personal sessions also give the leader a chance to explain what’s going on in the business and how the workforce contributes to business goals.

Plus, the promises and visions a transformational leader makes must be seen to be achieved. This takes strong people management skills, experience in the field and the ability to organise the workforce to work towards the vision. It also takes motivational skills — employees must be convinced that the idea will be successful, and they must be committed to its delivery.

The benefits of transformational leaders

If your business needs to adapt to change, it needs a transformational leadership approach. With rising globalisation, constant innovations in technology and quick changing business environments, having a flexible service and reactive employees is important for survival.

This variant of leadership encourages employees to work past simple self-interest and provides the support and recognition necessary to make this so. This leads them to take genuine interest in progressing the business and helping it succeed. They often look out for potential opportunities that the business would benefit from and make these suggestions to their leader. All of these things keep your business ahead of competition and in a state of constant innovation.

Transformational leaders don’t just inspire their employees — they truly value what they have to say and contribute too. This makes them feel more valued and more likely to stay within the company to see the changes that lie ahead. High staff retention is beneficial to a business as the recruitment and training process can be costly and time inefficient. 

This type of leader can also encourage employees by showing them how to view their input in terms of a wider context and overall impact. This can be done by sending employees to conferences and asking them to mix with others in the industry. This reminds people of the contextual factors that are occurring outside of the company and adapt their work accordingly.

Terry Clark
Author: Terry Clark

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