Transformational Leadership: Important Characteristics of a Leader

Leaders are the key strengths of organizational culture, both creating and fostering a sense of belonging to the company. They are also the people who can help steer a business strategy to drive growth. Thus, effective leadership is vital to the success of every organization.

However, since the modern world is constantly changing, the traditional approach to leadership, such as autocratic or transactional, is no longer effective. That’s exactly where transformational leadership (TL) steps in.

In this article, we will look at the concept of transformational management, the important traits and qualities a leader needs to possess, and the advantages that the TL style offers to the modern workplace. Grab a pen to take notes!

What Is Transformational Leadership?

To get started, let’s first define what the term “transformational leadership” means so you can better understand the concept.

In layman’s terms, TL is a style of leadership in which the leader inspires and motivates their teams to achieve their full potential and bring about positive change in the workplace. TLs focus on:

  • Empowering and developing their team members;
  • Encouraging people to be creative, innovative, and proactive;
  • Helping others grow both personally and professionally.

So, TL is often associated with a supportive and empowering work environment that fosters employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. According to an American scholar Bernand M.Bass who created a TL theory in 1985, this style of leadership is based on four elements, described as:

  • Idealized influence;
  • Intellectual stimulation;
  • Inspirational motivation;
  • Individual consideration.

These are the four “i’s” that explain how TL is different from the others.

7 Characteristics of Transformational Leaders

To be a TL, it’s not enough just to have a number of “followers”. It’s important to embody all the four “i’s” so that others can learn from you and be inspired to follow suit. The good news is, TL skills aren’t something that you need to be born with. You can develop them as you go.

Here are seven key characteristics of TL to follow:

1. Visionary

TLs have a clear and compelling vision for the future that inspires and motivates their teams. More importantly, they are able to communicate this vision in a way that helps others see its value and understand how they can contribute to making it a reality.

2. Charismatic

Transformational leaders are sometimes referred to as charismatic leaders because of their magnetic personality that draws others to them. They understand the importance of charisma and use it to command attention, influence, motivate, and inspire trust in people.

3. Inspirational

People need encouragement to go above and beyond what is expected of them at work, and TLs know it. To instill motivation in the workplace, they use positive reinforcement, encouragement, and praise to help their team members reach their full potential.

4. Empathetic

All organizations experience conflicts from time to time, but when handled properly, those conflicts rarely become a real problem. TLs can understand and relate to the needs and concerns of their teams. They can also put themselves in other’s shoes and see things from their perspectives.

5. Empowering

TLs empower their followers by giving them the resources, tools, and support they need to succeed. They delegate tasks and responsibilities, provide training and guidance, and give their teams the autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of their work.

6. Innovative

What makes a leader a transformational leader is their willingness to innovate. They are not afraid to take risks and try new things. What’s more, they are able to encourage their followers to think outside the box and come up with new ideas and solutions to problems.

7. Ethical

Finally, what sets TLs apart is their ability to foster an ethical work environment. They have a strong sense of ethics and integrity and lead by example. Also, they are committed to doing what is right, even if it is not the easiest or most popular course of action, and hold themselves (and others) accountable for their decisions.

Advantages of Transformational Leadership

As was mentioned earlier, the traditional approach to leadership style doesn’t prove to be effective any longer. Not only does it not inspire people, but it can actually lead to growing discontent in employees, decreased levels of productivity, and high turnover.

TL, on the other hand, addresses these issues and offers a number of important advantages for both organizations and team members. Let’s explore what these advantages are in more detail:

  • Increased motivation. When people are inspired, they find meaning and purpose in their work, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and higher levels of productivity;
  • Improved performance. Surrounded by positive people who are passionate about what they do, teams are more likely to be more creative and perform better;
  • Increased loyalty. Because TLs encourage open communication and often talk to their teams to hear their needs, their followers trust them and stay loyal to the employer;
  • Stronger teamwork. Teams managed by TLs are overall more effective, as they are heard, supported, recognized, and praised for their contribution regularly;
  • Better decision-making. By allowing people to take ownership of their work, leaders help their teams gain expertise and powerful insights that can help them make smart decisions in the future.

As evident, with TLs on board, organizations can increase employee engagement, improve overall performance, and create a positive work environment where their employees can achieve their full potential.

Therefore, both organizations and leaders should invest their time and money in continuous learning and development, which can be done through the following practices:

  • Development programs;
  • Coaching;
  • Mentoring;
  • Workshops;
  • Seminars;
  • Online courses, and more.


To recap, TL is a powerful leadership style that emphasizes inspiring and motivating employees to reach their full potential. It is a style that encourages employees and one that people don’t mind being led.

Therefore, the characteristics of a TL, such as vision, passion, creativity, and the ability to inspire and empower others, are critical for driving organizational success.

By developing TLs, organizations can achieve their goals, create a culture of excellence, and respond effectively to the challenges of today’s business environment. Ultimately, transformational leadership isn’t just a tool for achieving success. It’s a way of thinking that works wonders in transforming both organizations and individuals.