Are you a transformational leader? Many of today’s most lauded executives and organization leaders are transformational leaders. Answer the questions below to see if you are in tune with the transformational leadership style. After the questions, we will define transformational leadership, what makes it different from other leadership styles, and how you can use it to strengthen and lead your organization to a better future.

3 Questions to Determine if You Are a Transformational Leader

We have compiled three questions below to illustrate the leadership traits, response, and motivations that agree with transformational leadership. At the end you can review the answers and get a better understanding of what transformational leadership is.

1. Choose the 5 Traits Below That Best Match Your Leadership Style

  1. Agent of Change – At the forefront, pushing organizational change
  2. Director – Oversee the creation and implementation of initiatives
  3. If It’s Working Don’t Fix It – Leave performing teams and tasks as they are
  4. Inspirational Team Player – See yourself as a peer who helps motivate the team
  5. Problem-Solver – Take lead on identifying, rectifying, and preventing issues
  6. Process-Oriented – Create clear and efficient modes of work for teams to follow
  7. Risk-Taker – Always exploring a new edge, opportunity, or technology to gain advantages
  8. Strategist – Future-oriented, creating and adhering to a roadmap for success
  9. Truth Challenger – Continually testing the things consider true are true
  10. Vision Creator – Crafting and sharing your idea of what the organization should be

A) Focus on putting out the fire and finding out what went wrong and if someone made a mistake that could have prevented the situation. Create clear expectations and procedures around the cause of the situation to keep it from happening again.

B) Empower the right people with the resources they need to resolve the situation and maintain the initiative’s vision. Work with those involved to determine why the situation happened and have the affected detail what they need to prevent this and similar situations in the future.

C) Identify the underlying causes of the situation and what signs and symptoms were missed leading to this point. Make the situation right and focus efforts on ironing out your strategy for dealing with similar situations when they arise and what can be altered to diminish the underlying causes of the situation.

3. How Are You Motivated as a Leader?

Choose A or B, whichever best matches you for the below circumstances

Are you more likely to motivate stakeholders with… 

A) Enthusiasm and Inspiration
B) Gratitude and Rewards

Do you find yourself more likely to focus on improving…

A) Commitment and Motivation
B) Compliance and Procedure

Is your personal leadership success gauged by…

A) Achieving Goals and Preparing for Future Challenges
B) Empowering a Consolidated Organization Vision

Are you more motivated to do your best by….

A) Extrinsic Rewards (Bonus, Promotions, etc.)
B) Intrinsic Rewards (Appreciation, Pride, etc.)

Are You Ready to Become a Transformational Leader?

Ready to find out if you are practicing transformation leadership techniques? Here is the answer key to our three questions.

  1. Agent of Change, Inspirational Team Player, Risk-Taker, Truth Challenger, and Vision Creator are all transformational leadership traits.

If you had three or more of these traits in your answer, you have the beginning traits of a transformational leader.

  1. B, Empower the right people with the resources they need to resolve the situation and maintain the initiative’s vision. Work with those involved to determine why the situation happened and have the affected detail what they need to prevent this and similar situations in the future.

Transformational leaders are not interested in micromanaging situations. They are more interested in helping organizations improve by empowering the knowers and doers to resolve problems and overcome changes. If you chose answer B, you understand this already.

  1. Enthusiasm and Inspiration, Commitment and Motivation, Empowering a Consolidated Organization Vision, and Intrinsic Rewards are all telltale signs of a transformational leader.

If you answered three or more of the A/B choices with these answers, you are one step closer to becoming a transformational leader for your organization.

The results are in, how did you fare? Whether you are a budding transformational leader or want a new perspective to help you become a better leader for your organization, it would be good to get a basic understanding of transformational leadership, what it stands for, and how it can benefit you and your organization.

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What is the Transformational Leadership Method?

At its core, transformational leaders practice a system that empowers and inspires employees to make the most of their roles. These types of leaders encourage employees to find ways to grow their skills and improve different aspects of the organization and how it works. This idea is founded on the four core tenants that make up the transformative leadership style.

Core Tenants of Transformational Leadership

Idealized Influence: These leaders serve as ethical role models for the organization. They present themselves as the ideal version of the type of person that works within the organization’s culture and promotes its overall vision. Leaders gain the respect and trust of those around them through their example and engender others to internalize their vision and emulate their behavior.

Individualized Consideration: Transformative leaders keep open lines of communication between people at all levels of the organization. They want to hear directly from those involved to understand employee challenges and to empower employees to share their expertise and ideas to help the company succeed. This open communication makes it fast and easy to recognize employee contributions.

Inspirational Motivation: Leaders are very good at creating and communicating a clear vision to the organization. Their charisma and enthusiasm for the vision are infectious and build an organization’s passion for seeing the vision become a reality.

Intellectual Stimulation: Transformational leadership engenders creativity and encourages continual growth and development. Leaders encourage employees to challenge the status quo and long-assumed assumptions to discover new opportunities and continually push against the barrier of “can’t be done.”

How is Transformational Leadership Different From Other Approaches?

The most common style of leadership is transactional leadership. It creates a bounded box of expectations and uses clear discipline and reward structures based on performance. Transactional leadership can also be myopic, spending more time focused on creating and achieving short-term goals. This leadership style is more tactics-focused than strategic, which can trade long-term sacrifices for short-term success or lead to leadership only acting when something goes wrong and resting on its laurels when things go well.

Across from transactional leadership is strategic leadership. Strategic leaders often use more perspective in their style of leadership. They view immediate goals and processes as steps in a staircase to achieving long-term initiatives and success. Strategic leadership creates long-term consistency in an organization and attempts to forecast industry and market changes and prepare for them in advance. One downside of the strategic leadership style is that it is often resistant to change until forced, more often opting to follow the status quo, stick to the plan, and ride out disruptions.

Meanwhile, transformational leadership focuses less on establishing a strategic roadmap or managing oversight of employees. It is more focused on establishing a cohesive vision of what the organization should be and providing employees the independence and trust to make decisions and take actions to move the organization closer to its vision, values, and goals. Instead of being change-averse, like strategic leadership, transformational leadership examples are open and enthusiastic for change. Due to the ever-changing nature of technology, it’s unsurprising that many successful tech organizations like Apple excel following a transformational leadership system.

How Transformational Leadership is Useful for You

Even if you are in an industry, organization, or role where transformational leadership is not the best fit, any leader can gain helpful insight and ideas on how to lead better. One of the biggest strengths of transformational leadership is the human element. Groups with transformational leaders are highly engaged with their mission and are loyal, and care deeply about the group’s collective success in living their vision.

Because employees in transformational leadership organizations are highly independent, empowered to make decisions, and feel heard by leadership, such groups find it much easier to recruit incredible talent to their teams, and employee turnover is often very low. 

And, because decisions are made and actions taken by those most intimate and affected by situations, these organizations create self-repairing and self-optimizing loops of customer service and production. With empowered employees and teams in place, you can reduce the amount of direct management necessary, freeing your leadership efforts to focus on crystalizing your organization’s vision, values, and goals. You can focus on developing the strategic roadmap to achieve your vision and increasing the amount and quality of communication and feedback throughout all levels of your organization.

So, transformational leadership may be worth your pursuit if you are a leader looking to increase overall performance, hire better talent and keep them, or create more self-sufficient teams/departments. 

Transformational Leadership Strengths & Potential Pitfalls

Perhaps the greatest strength of the transformational leadership style is its ability to create an easy-to-communicate vision for an organization. By creating an ideal goal leaders want to reach, they can provide their teams a purpose, get them excited about the vision, and lead organizational change to those ends. A big part of the change to meet the vision is empowering the people within their company to make the changes needed to achieve more outstanding results and improve the company overall.

But, there are some clear pitfalls transformational leaders can fall into without experience and the proper training. Clearly communicating your vision for an organization can be difficult. And while you may see it as a passionate pursuit, the vision can be daunting to others and seem impractical, even unachievable by others in the organization. For those people, it’s critical a transformational leader can break their vision down into a roadmap of concrete goals and achievable milestones.

EWF International’s Executive Education

We provide advanced leadership programming designed exclusively for senior and executive leaders. This training is not the same old skills-based retread but workshops to help you better understand your leadership style, explore your challenges, and strengthen your ability to provide impactful results for you and your organization through impactful leadership.

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Another pitfall is the transformational leader’s potential propensity for trying to build a better mousetrap. As a truth challenger, they often push against the walls of what is considered fact and what people say cannot be done. A good trait that can become an issue when resources are wasted trying to squeeze the last drops of efficiency or effectiveness out of operations to achieve their vision. 

And finally, the transformational leadership method works better for some industries and organizations than others. Transformational leaders thrive In industries and environments where creativity and innovation are vital to success. No surprise that they are well-suited for today’s fast-paced, diverse, and highly technological workforce and work well in constantly innovating fields like technology companies. But, in roles where the focus is squarely on achieving a prescription of short-term goals, a transactional leadership approach can reduce chaos, change fatigue, and improve overall results. 

As with many leadership choices, it comes down to identifying and using the right approach and tool for the given situation. In that aspect, transformational leadership is helpful, regardless of leadership style and industry.