Becoming a Transformational Leader

By Mostafa Sayyadi

Now that executives across the globe have identified that transformational leadership has risen to a phenomenon that is worth understanding, learning, and using in organizations around the world, let us determine what the best transformational do.

Transformational Leaders

Transformational leadership has been highlighted as the behavior indicative of friendship, mutual trust, respect, and warmth While James MacGregor Burns initially developed transformational leadership, this concept has been further developed by scholars and will continue to evolve. The key to transformational leadership is based upon satisfying basic needs and verbalizing feelings of admiration, respect and trust toward themselves to meet higher desires through inspiring followers to provide newer solutions and create a better workplace.

A strong component of transformational leadership is the concept of becoming a charismatic leader. This leadership style actually employs charismatic behaviors and motivates subordinates to provide better outcomes, more profitability, and satisfying careers. Effectiveness among transformational leaders can be, therefore, evaluated by measuring how transformational leaders are admired and respected by subordinates to provide extra effort and meet the needs of customers. Extra effort does not only help the organization but also helps the individual. In doing this, transformational leaders focus on the critical human assets such as commitment and thus help followers to effectively implement organizational changes with both efficiency and effectiveness. It is this leadership style that sheds light on the strategic role of follower attitudes and values to accomplish a higher degree of effectiveness, and highlights the importance of employees in implementing changes at the organizational level. Therefore, in today’s global business environments involve a high level of uncertainty, organizations will increasingly need more transformational leaders to be more innovative and creative.

Sure, there are critics of this leadership style, but do not let that stop you from implementing it and learning how to master it. Transformational leadership unfolds results in organizations, influencing employee individual interests to align with institutional interests, and through inspiring followers to create new ideas and innovations for effective business outcomes. In fact, a transformational leader is treating human capital as an individual quality and becomes a role model who is trusted, admired and respected by followers.

Executives can be made into leaders and leaders can become better at what they do by using the four techniques of transformational leadership. These four techniques include: idealized influence; individualized consideration; intellectual stimulation, and; inspirational motivation.

Executives can use idealized influence when aiming to develop a shared vision and improve relationships with followers.

Executives can use individualized consideration when they would like to concentrate on identifying employee’s individual needs and empower followers in order to build a learning climate and mobilize follower support and trust toward the goals and objectives at the senior organizational level.

Executives can use intellectual stimulation to propel knowledge sharing in the company to generate more innovative ideas and solutions for new and demanding issues that come up constantly in our hypercompetitive economic environment.

Executives can use inspirational motivation to focus on inspiring people and not just treat them as human assets. This sets a higher level of desired expectations for them. The four techniques of transformational leadership mentioned above, when carried out correctly, can present a set of practices for an effective leadership. These four techniques of transformational leadership represent how an effective leader working in today’s knowledge-based economy can develop and manage intellectual capital in corporations.

There are some differences between transformational leadership and trait theory. The researchers associated with trait theory believed that a great man or great leader, men or woman, was born to lead and not made into a leader In contrast, James MacGregor Burns found that followers can be made into leaders and leaders can become better at what they do by using the four techniques of transformational leadership. Therefore, James MacGregor Burns formulated how the great man/woman at the topmost levels of organizations can prosper and excel by simply applying the techniques of transformational leadership.

One example of transformational leaders in a highly competitive environment is Steve Jobs, former leader of the Apple, who built a highly effective organization through taking a change-oriented leadership approach, which highly manifested itself in talent development, organizational structure, and inspiring vision for the future. Jobs generated a shared and inspiring vision for the future expansion into global markets. Also, he built a learning climate through identifying intellectual capital and empowering them. Most importantly, Jobs transformed Apple by changing the basic values, beliefs, and attitudes of followers so that they we willing to perform beyond their previous level specified by the Apple in their job description. He also contributed to new products and services to meet dynamic market needs, through inspirational motivation and higher expectations for new and strategic opportunities to meet the needs of customers in the marketplace.

The next section, I place more emphasis on what the best transformational leaders do in their current work environment to improve competitive advantage and enhance the time and efficiency of task significance leading to satisfied followers who take better care of stakeholders. This is what every executive needs to do in today’s globalized nature of competitiveness.

Today’s Environments

Global expansion of business is constantly changing as organizations are increasingly participating in international markets. A transformational leadership approach may be necessary as the globalized market demands are increasingly difficult to adapt and sustain profitability. The emergence of global business environments drives companies to become world-class. Transformational leaders within companies can play a crucial role in achieving a high level of effectiveness and world class efficiency and effectiveness.

Today’s globalized nature of competitiveness is placing more pressure on organizations to employ effective executives who are capable to develop a global vision for organizations. Executives need to think globally yet act locally because local strategies need to be realigned with the global economic integration and for individual countries.

Organizational commitment, flexibility, and innovation are necessary attributes to evaluate the success of organizations in global markets. In fact, executives acting as transformational leaders in world-class organizations are highly characterized by enablers of organizational commitment, flexibility, and problem-solving oriented. The global markets represent cross-cultural settings and require executives who can adapt to various environments successfully. A cross-cultural setting can enhance the employee’s organizational commitment through empowering human assets and developing an inspiring vision for future.

The major tasks of executives in today’s global business environments include: empowering employees; generating a shared vision, and; creating fundamental changes at the organizational level.

Sustained performance in global markets is dependent on continuous learning. Transformational leaders build a learning climate through identifying intellectual capital and empowering them. In fact, executives that act as transformational leaders are possibly the most qualified executives that may be able to enhance organization performance in global markets through empowering human resources and enabling change. One way that transformational leadership may be valuable in foreign markets is because this form of leadership sheds light on the critical role of employee’s attitudes and values in implementing change. Transformational leaders can enable performance in globalized markets through implementing organizational change and developing a shared vision for future expansion into global markets. Further, transformational leaders foster human assets and then move them beyond self-interests by linking the individual-interests to the collective-interests. When executives as transformational leaders generate a shared and inspiring vision for the future expansion into global markets, they will secure a foothold in the ever-expansive global marketplace.

It is critical that executives understand that transformational leadership supports their companies to remain competitive. It is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right hands of executives worldwide. It is about blending scholarly concepts with real world application and places a great deal of emphasis on the literature of transformational leadership as a significant indicator for organizational competitiveness.

Mostafa Sayyadi is with the Institute of Management Consultants, Victoria, Australia

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