Four Elements of Transformational Leadership

Organizations emphasize the concept of leadership in training managers or group leaders to propel a team or the organization forward. Within leadership, the effectiveness of the transformational versus transactional leader is often debated. Transactional leadership relies more on a "give and take" understanding, whereby subordinates have a sense of duty to the leader in exchange for some reward.

Transformational leadership theory, on the other hand, involves a committed relationship between the leader and his followers. Transformational leadership was first coined by James Burns in 1973, according to St. Thomas University. In 1985, industrial psychologist Bernard Bass identified and wrote about four factors of transformational leadership.

Idealized Influence of Leaders

Charisma marks one of the most easily identified transformational leadership characteristics. As Ronald E Riggio PhD, explains in Psychology Today, this is part of being a positive role model, displaying a charismatic personality that influences others to want to become more like the leader. Idealized influence can be most expressed through a transformational leader's willingness to take risks and follow a core set of values, convictions and ethical principles in the actions he takes. It is through this concept of idealized influence that the leader builds trust with his followers and the followers, in turn, develop confidence in their leader.

Inspirational Motivation and Ability to Inspire Confidence

Inspirational motivation refers to the leader's ability to inspire confidence, motivation and a sense of purpose in his followers. The transformational leader must articulate a clear vision for the future, communicate expectations of the group and demonstrate a commitment to the goals that have been laid out. This aspect of transformational leadership requires superb communication skills as the leader must convey his messages with precision, power and a sense of authority. Other important behaviors of the leader include his continued optimism, enthusiasm and ability to point out the positive.

Intellectual Stimulation and Creativity

Transformational leadership values creativity and autonomy among the leader's followers. The leader supports his followers by involving them in the decision-making process and stimulating their efforts to be as creative and innovative as possible to identify solutions.

To this end, the transformational leader challenges assumptions and solicits ideas from followers without criticizing. She helps change the way followers think about and frame problems and obstacles. The vision the leader conveys helps followers see the big picture and succeed in their efforts.

Individualized Consideration of Group Members

Each follower or group member has specific needs and desires. For example, some are motivated by money while others by change and excitement. The individualized consideration element of transformational leadership recognizes these needs. The leader must be able to recognize or determine – through eavesdropping or observation – what motivates each individual.

Through one-on-one coaching and mentoring, the transformational leader provides opportunities for customized training sessions for each team member. These activities allow team members to grow and become fulfilled in their positions.