The post-pandemic business landscape continues to change at a rapid rate. To keep up, executive leaders must embrace key leadership competencies to guide firms through their transformative journeys. Investing in the right executive training empowers transformational leaders to become stronger proponents of change and steer organizations toward success.

This insightful article explores the critical leadership competencies that help to elevate your transformational leadership skills. It explains the profound impact these have on unlocking growth and success across the board. That includes you as a leader, those you lead, and the organization you both serve.

Before delving into the competencies and what transformational leadership is, it is important to dispel common misconceptions and provide a concise overview of what it is NOT.

What Transformational Leadership Is Not

Transformative leadership development is not a fad. It goes beyond traditional management styles and does not focus on simply maintaining the status quo. Nor is it a transactional approach or one that involves micromanaging or controlling every aspect of your organization.

So, what is it?

Transformational Leadership: A Brief Overview

Transformative leaders inspire and motivate individuals and teams with a leadership style that builds relationships based on trust. Additionally, it fosters personal development, leads change initiatives, and embraces clear communication. Moreover, transformational leaders hold themselves and others accountable for their performance and actions to manifest the vision you have for your organization.

The seven natural or acquired characteristics fundamental to transformational leaders include:

  1. Persuasive: inspirational communication
  2. Forward-thinking: visionary thinking
  3. Empathetic: emotional intelligence
  4. Supportive: coaching and development
  5. Relational: relationship building
  6. Motivating: inspirational
  7. Adaptive: change management

Strategic thinking leaders with these traits develop certain behaviors that drive successful outcomes. Do you qualify as a transformational leader or someone who aspires to become one? How many of the above characteristic boxes do you check? Emerging leaders, and veteran managers, who lack these leadership skills and associated behaviors can develop them with the training and experience.

Breaking Down Barriers to Executive Training


Executive leadership development and training is a worthy investment, yet many organizations remain skeptical. There are reasons for this, many of which are due to past poor experiences resulting from inadequate training materials, presentations, and a lack of practical implementation. Tailored programs tied to real-world benefits will help you avoid this and ensure your executive education training isn’t a wasted investment.

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Let’s review the shared competencies of transformational leaders and associated behaviors.

Key Leadership Competencies for Future Success


These seven key leadership competencies refer to distinct knowledges and skillsets (both technical and soft), attributes, and behaviors that enable successful leadership.

1. Inspirational Communication

Inspirational communication is a competency that involves effectively conveying your vision for the future and communicating it in a way the is compelling, that inspires those you share it with. How proficient are your communication skills? Transformational leaders leverage this competence to inspire and support those around them. A 2019 study shows inspirational communication is an effective way to foster a sense of purpose and commitment in teams beyond the traditional approaches used to motivate team members. [1]

Associated Behaviors

There are several behaviors associated with inspirational communication:

  • Communicate with clarity
  • Exude passion
  • Act with authenticity
  • Provide emotional support
  • Engage your body (language)
  • Listen actively
  • Display adaptability
  • Offer positive reinforcement

Around 91% of respondents in an Interact/Harris Poll criticized their leaders’ lack effective communication skills. [2]

This chart sums up the types of communication employees often find lacking in their leadership:

Data source: Interact/Harris Poll

2. Visionary Thinking

Leaders practicing visionary thinking inspire and motivate individuals and teams to work towards a compelling future state while boosting job satisfaction. Visionary thinkers surpass other leaders by setting inspirational goals and clear measurements, but not necessarily how to reach them. Allowing their teams to ideate and innovate the path to meeting both. It’s an approach that energizes transformative change from within teams and pushes organizational success. [3]

Associated Behaviors

Visionary thinkers can think outside the box and share these behaviors:

  • Demonstrate big-picture thinking
  • Maintain a forward-looking mindset
  • Encourage creativity and innovation
  • Engage in long-term strategic planning
  • Encourage calculated risks
  • Provide inspiring leadership
  • Pursue continuous learning
  • Exhibit resilience

Future leaders at the executive level should seek to become visionary thinkers. Effective leadership development training helps cultivate forward-looking mindsets and improve strategic planning abilities in talented leaders as they gain more seniority. Participants in these programs become better at creative problem-solving, trend analysis, and more.

3. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a critical competency for transformational leaders. It concerns the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your own emotions while also effectively empathizing with and influencing the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence helps leaders build better relationships, inspire trust, and navigate conflictsn to create positive work environments, loyal employees, and strong teams.

Transformational leadership outperforms other styles by harnessing emotional intelligence to show empathy and understanding. That matters in the new American workplace, where supportive and inclusive cultures attract and retain top talent.

Associated Behaviors

The most notable behaviors associated with emotional intelligence include:

  • Demonstrating emotional self-awareness and self-regulation
  • Practicing empathy
  • Engaging in active listening
  • Implementing constructive conflict management
  • Cultivating and nurturing relationships at all levels

Leaders with increased emotional intelligence have a positive impact on individuals and teams through effective communication, empathy, trust, and collaboration. Employees that feel heard and supported are more likely to bring new ideas and go the extra mile for their leaders.

4. Coaching and Development

Coaching and development are crucial to transformational leadership. They help individuals reach their potential, improve performance, and foster continuous learning. Effective leaders excel in this area by empowering their teams, inspiring innovation, and cultivating a motivated workforce. This approach sets them apart from traditional management styles. 

Those with dated attitudes tend to resist investing in development programs. This resistance is often due to control concerns, short-term focus, and feeling that development time is work time wasted, among other reasons.

Associated Behaviors

Behaviors associated with coaching and development are:

  • Fostering a learning environment
  • Delegating responsibilities
  • Practicing active listening
  • Providing consistent constructive feedback and goal setting
  • Facilitating growth through guidance and support

Employees view these behaviors positively. They value their leaders’ support, empowerment, communication, and growth opportunities. Consequently, training and development opportunities result in higher job fulfillment and retention rates. [4]

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5. Relationship Building


Transformational leaders connect, collaborate, and establish rapport with their subordinates. By fostering trust, they enhance teamwork which facilitates a positive work culture. Those who excel in relationship building actively engage, thus forming and nurturing strong connections. Leaders achieve extraordinary results by leveraging workplace relationships with their teams that traditional leaders can only dream of.

Associated Behaviors

Behaviors associated with relationship building include:

  • Engaging active listening
  • Empathizing
  • Communicating consistently
  • Being approachable
  • Building trust
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Demonstrating care and interest for all employees

These behaviors help strengthen employee engagement, collaboration, and workers’ overall well-being and job satisfaction.

6. Inspirational Motivation

Inspirational motivation is necessary for transformational leaders who inspire confidence, motivation, and purpose. They effectively communicate a compelling vision and set clear expectations. Furthermore, they can maintain a positive attitude to inspire and encourage team members to achieve extraordinary results. Having impeccable communication skills is also crucial to avoid misunderstandings and confusion. [5]

Traditional leaders lacking this competency often fail to inspire and motivate teams in the way leaders with transformational-based motivational skills do. That results in lower employee engagement and limited overall performance.

Associated Behaviors

The transformational leadership behaviors linked to inspirational motivation include:

  • Communicating a compelling vision
  • Setting tough but fair expectations
  • Demonstrating confidence and determination
  • Maintaining a positive attitude
  • Fostering optimism
  • Inspiring through effective communication
  • Instilling purpose and meaning
  • Leading by example

These behaviors profoundly impact employees and businesses by shaping the organization’s cultural identity and fostering a positive work ethos.

7. Change Management

Effective change management is vital for success. It involves navigating and facilitating organizational changes to ensure smooth transitions while minimizing resistance. It is critical for enhancing adaptability, fostering innovation, and enabling business growth.

Experienced transformational leaders excel in change management by proactively addressing concerns head-on and inspiring buy-in. Their ability to quickly create supportive environments gives them an edge over more formal approaches to managing transitions.

Associated Behaviors

Behaviors exhibited in change management include:

  • Demonstrating flexibility
  • Practicing open communication
  • Showing empathy
  • Encouraging collaboration
  • Inspiring others to make change
  • Exhibiting resilience
  • Displaying visionary thinking

The concept behind change management is straightforward. Yet 70% of company change management initiatives fall short. Often because these initiatives are pushed top down without understanding the position of teams and the difficulties they face. Businesses could avoid this with improved executive training for change management. [6]

Final Comments on Key Transformational Leadership Competencies

The leadership competencies highlighted in this article are vital for transformational leaders. Inspirational communication and motivation inspire confidence and purpose, while visionary thinking fosters innovation. Emotional intelligence creates positive work relationships. Coaching and development improve job satisfaction and increase retention rates. Relationship building creates trust and collaboration. And leaders who excel in change management drive smooth transitions, foster adaptability, and inspire evolution.

Unlocking the potential of transformational leadership and associated behaviors benefits individuals and teams in many ways. Proper training in transformational competencies drives 21st-century leadership and contributes to organizational success.