How can you become a transformational leader?

How can you be a transformational leader?

Leadership styles are as varied as leaders themselves. Yet as those who take one of our leadership training courses can attest, transformational leadership is one of the most effective.

But what is a transformational leader and how can you become one?

What is transformational leadership?

One of the earliest thinkers on the topic of transformation leadership was Bernard Bass. He defined it as occurring when leaders:

  • Broaden and elevate the interests of their employees.
  • Become champions of the purpose and values of the group.
  • Encourage employees to work for the team, not only for themselves.

Transformational leaders put the team's goals above all else, including themselves. They identify the purpose of the team and then do everything they can to make all of its members believe in the cause. It's primarily about inspiration and making sure each team member is attended to in a way that gets them on board. So instead of using sticks to punish and carrots to entice, transformational leaders eschew the need for both by making the achievement of the team goal the reward in itself.Transformational leaders inspire their employees to follow and champion the cause of the team.Transformational leaders inspire their employees to follow and champion the cause of the team.

How do you become a transformational leader?

Becoming a transformational leader is not a simple task and it can be difficult to know if you've really gotten there – you might be one already and not even realise. It can be broken down into three broad steps that need to be achieved. If you can do (or are doing) these three things, you can be fairly confident that your leadership will be transformational.

1. Understand the team's goal and purpose 

In order to inspire your team into working passionately towards its goal, you first need to understand it yourself. Depending on the age of your team and your industry, the purpose may be there waiting to be discovered, or you might have to do some work to create it yourself. Whatever the case, transformational leadership starts with you believing in the purpose and goals of the team, and making this a key part of the team's culture.

2. Improve your communication skills

Understanding the purpose of the team is no good if you can't articulate it. Transformational leaders need to be able communicate authentically with their peers, in a way that helps them feel invested in the goals and focus of the team. A big part of this kind of leadership is getting your employees to buy in to the business and its strategies – you can't do this unless your communication is top notch.

Improving your communication skills makes it easier for your team to achieve their goals.Improving your communication skills makes it easier for your team to achieve their goals.

3. Create motivation

The whole point of a transformational leader is that they're not someone who cracks the whip. They instead light the fire of motivation within employees that makes them want to pursue the goals of the team. If you've communicated the values and purpose of the team well, this step can sometimes complete itself. If not, there are other ways to create that motivation. A charity, for example, could take their team on a day trip to see the good work the charity has done. This connection to the real-world results can make the point of the work your team does a lot more salient in their minds. 

For more information on how ICML can help you become a better leader – by taking one of our management courses, for example – get in touch with a member of the team today.


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