Transformational Leadership: The Benefits and How to Apply It
Post by Hansen Beck
Unlocking the fullest potential of your employees. It all starts with (transformational) leadership and coaching. Unfortunately, there is no manual you can read that will transform you into a great leader. Leadership is a skill, which develops over time. It takes practice, a clear vision, responsibility and initiative.
What is transformational leadership?
There are different leadership styles that could work for you. We believe in inspiring employees to bring out the best in them. Transformational Leadership is all about that. It is focused on encouraging personal development and fosters an ethical work environment where staff members can share their ideas and visions. This leadership style is about creating an open company culture and coaching and mentoring staff members.
Transformational Leadership has been around for a while. The concept started in 1975 by James V. Downton and was elaborated by James Burns in 1978. Although the environments in which this leadership style has been used keep changing, the style itself hasn’t changed and is still used throughout the world in many companies.
We have experienced that being a transformational leader is having the ability to influence the workplace in such a way that it will create a positive impact.
We have seen that the success of transformational leadership is reliant on how much of an idealised Influence style you use. It is about creating a vision that everyone can relate to. We believe that by establishing a purpose behind your actions and decisions, people will trust and support you because they will understand why you're making the decisions you're making.
4 components to transformational leadership (4 I’s)
If you want to be more effective as a leader there are 4 components to transformational leadership that we believe are good to be aware of and to implement in your strategy.
Now before we dig into what those components are, it's important to understand why we need them in the first place.
Transformational leaders go the extra mile of being inspirational in their work and building relationships with their staff. They also bring innovation to their company by consistently looking for new ways to improve the company and its processes.
Many firms have leaders who are called transformational leaders. There are many traits and behaviours that they share with others in leadership roles. These components can help to grow organisational performance and to influence, motivate, recognise and stimulate staff in a positive way.
- Idealised Influence (II)
Idealised influence is about seeing new opportunities and empowering employees to learn and grow. This includes talking about values and beliefs and developing a shared vision.
- Inspirational Motivation (IM)
Inspirational motivation is the process of influencing people to perform well by responding to their needs and aspirations.
- Individualised Consideration (IC)
Individualised consideration is the process of recognizing individuals and giving them a strong purpose within the company to achieve their goals.
- Intellectual Stimulation (IS)
Intellectual Stimulation is a component where the leader acts as a role model and challenges employees to be innovative and creative. They constantly challenge their employees to higher levels of performance.
Transformational Leadership Vs. Transactional Leadership
Transformational leadership is a direct contrast to transactional leadership. These are basically two opposite leadership styles, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
While transactional leaders rely on power, control and incentives, transformational leaders utilise emotional intelligence, ownership, and a positive outlook to change the hearts and minds of followers.
Transactional leadership is focused on getting results; transformational leadership is also focused on inspiring greatness in those around you. While both leadership styles could work for you, we personally believe that a transformational leader can inspire its team members, which will ultimately result in a better long-term outcome. It takes more time to build relationships and engage with employees, but we believe it is worth it to create a positive and jovial work environment.
Another difference between transformational and transactional leadership is that transactional leadership engages our employees' brains. Transformational leadership, however, additionally activates our employees' emotional energy, multiplying our influence.
Small Business Transformational Leadership
So we have talked about the different styles and components of transformational leadership and there are different businesses where you can apply this leadership style too. Transformational Leadership is applicable for each business, including small businesses.
Unfortunately, there is no single path to success for any entrepreneur, given the unique challenges and opportunities of each industry (and product). However, we believe one thing all (small) business owners share is that they benefit from strong leadership.
Especially for a small business, transformational leadership is key to the outcomes, work environment and the workspirit of your employees. Small business owners often have to do everything themselves, working on sales and marketing for their company, arranging all the finances and even do HR management, as not all businesses have an in-house team.
Of course all businesses can benefit from good management skills. We therefore recommend investing in yourself as a leader by educating yourself, communicating well and by taking care of yourself and having a healthy work-life balance.
We would also like to share some other tips that can help while running a (small) business:
- Self awareness: by developing yourself on a personal level, you know your strengths and weaknesses and it is easier to reflect and set goals.
- Networking: a strong network is something you and the company you work for can benefit from. When networking you can create strong relationships and connections and it will take your leadership skills to the next level.
- Stay humble: great leadership is about what’s best for the company and not necessarily for yourself. This means putting your ego aside, staying humble and not always having answers to everything.
How to implement Transformational Leadership into your business
Transformational Leadership is a solution for your business that focuses on creating long-term growth by investing in your staff’s, managers’ and leaders' personal growth. It can lead to a motivated, dedicated, and productive workforce and positive work environment.
Guiding and inspiring employees is an important part of transformational leadership, it can help to develop professionals within the organisation and help them to achieve their goals and aspirations.
Benefits of Transformational Leadership
So what are the benefits of implementing transformational leadership into your business? We have experienced this leadership style can be very beneficial when implemented well. Please find some of these benefits below.
- Drive business performance and productivity
- Improve communication and engagement
- Stimulate collaboration
- Transform the workplace culture
- Creating a common purpose between leaders and employees
Implementing Transformational Leadership
While Transformational Leadership brings lots of benefits, it also has its challenges when implementing this style into an existing organisation. Our experience has shown that connecting is a very important element of it. When you’re connecting with your employees and truly listening to what they have to say, this will help to build trust and can make the implementing process more pleasant.
This in-person approach will also help you to understand what their personal needs are, what the person wants to learn, and what their goals are. Of course, it all starts with the employee and his or her mindset to learn, grow, and develop.
Talent Development is a part of Leadership Management. So once the implementation is finished, a talent development program is a great next step to invest in employees and their skills.
Please find a few tips below when implementing transformational leadership into your business.
- Create a safe environment: to have open conversations, ask questions and discuss ideas.
- Personal Sessions: organise one-to-one’s to get to know employees, hear their ideas, and build relationships. doing this will lead to building trust and engagement.
- Collaboration: if employees feel that they do not have input into the change process and that they have no control over the change or their role, or they feel threatened by the change, chances are that they will resist the change and the new ways of working. It is therefore always important to collaborate with employees.
What are the barriers to implementing change?
Implementing a new leadership style can create conflict in the workspace. When it’s time for the next step and the next chapter of the company, it often requires change, and this can cause barriers when implementing these changes.
Change Management is something that can help when implementing a new leadership style, or changing other aspects of the company.
Change management is a term used to describe the processes and methods that are used to ensure an efficient transition to new ideas, products, systems, and procedures.
Change management ensures that changes are implemented consistently and successfully across all units in the organisation. It is important to note that although change management can be used in the context of mergers and acquisitions, it is not limited to such situations.
Inspired by the insights from the change management world, our programs focus on evolving people's attitudes and behaviours. Through learning, understanding, and doing, we help participants develop the skills – individually and as a team – for change.
With a thorough understanding of what it takes to participate in change management processes, participants will be able to develop sustainable change in their own organisations.
Our experience has revealed a few barriers to implementing change in an organisation:
- Confusion - If employees do not clearly understand what change means for them and their organisation, then they will have difficulty supporting the change.
- Control - If employees feel that they do not have input into the change process and that they have no control over the change or their role, or they feel threatened by the change, they can resist the change.
- Lack of Trust - The biggest barriers to change are a lack of trust and the fear of failure. In order to move forward, we believe employees (and leaders) need to understand that there is no success without failure, and that the only way they will learn and go forward is by taking some risks.
What is transformational coaching?
Transformational leadership and coaching go hand in hand. The goal of coaching is to help individuals, teams and organisations to become more self-aware by developing certain skills and behaviours. It gives employees a clear understanding of the challenges they face, how they can overcome these challenges, and what they need to do to achieve their goals.
Transformational coaches can help to improve the work quality of employees by finding new ways to inspire them.
We found transformation coaching is a natural result of action. Transformation coaching happens when we put our ideas into practice. It allows us to discover ways of acting that serve our goals and objectives, transforming our personal lives and businesses in the process. Each step we take allows us to create a different future for ourselves with a long-term impact.
How Transformational Coaching Is Different From Traditional Coaching
Since the two coaching styles are completely different, it's important to understand how each style operates.
For many professionals, the idea of receiving support on an ongoing basis that helps them identify and move beyond obstacles and develop skills, can be seen as an extension of what they already do or know.
A transformational coach has a unique approach that extends far beyond the role of a traditional coach. Transformational coaches help you to identify what your goals are and how to achieve them.
What makes a great leader?
There is not one answer to that question. A great leader has certain personality traits and skills that help them to bring out the best of the team.
Whether a transformational leadership style or another style is something for you or not, skills like communication, adaptability, motivation and guidance are important when leading a team.
We believe that a great leader gives purpose to the everyday lives of its employees and can inspire them to achieve goals together.
We have experienced that transformational leadership brings a lot of benefits and with the right implementation (change management) it can help your company, your employees and even yourself to grow and develop.
Written by Hansen Beck