Hello everyone, in this blog post I would like to talk to you about transformational leadership. I came across this style while researching famous company owners. This post was originally intended to be formed around top business leaders/owners. However, I came across an interesting theory and went further on to research it. The more I dug into this, the more I was excited about it and actually realized that all great historical figures like Martin Luther King or Franklin Roosevelt were actually natural transformational leaders. So let’s get straight into it, shall we? The term was first coined by James V. Downton, and then later developed and researched in more depth by James MacGregor Burns. Burns claimed transformational leadership to be an occurrence in which:
Leaders and followers make each other advance to a higher level of morality and motivation
To simplify this, transformational leadership focuses on people who have unique characteristics. They are mainly considered as role models for the team, to guide and inspire them towards a better working environment. Bernard M. Bass later further developed Burns’s theory and implemented a psychological mechanism explaining transformational leadership. Bass claimed how the impact of transformational leadership can be measured on the influence of the followers. Followers of such leaders would show signs of greater loyalty, trust and hard work. There are many reasons why these leaders influence their followers in such a way.
Transformational leadership unique charisma
There are many charismatic people in the world which are often not leaders. So what does separate these people from the rest? It is their unique personality. Transformational leaders have the tendency to read people very well. And as such is very good at knowing their follower’s weakness and strengths. However, simply knowing what your colleague’s weakness is won’t cut it. There are a lot of people who understand what their friends or co-workers strengths and weakness are. But not all of them have the ability to bring out their best potential.
Transformational leadership style revolves around people who are able not to only distinguish these traits but also to enhance them. It has been theorized that this kind of leader with 20 mediocre followers could bring out a better team than one normal leader with 20 skilled followers. Being mediocre is something that does not apply in teams led by such people. And the ability to read their strengths and weakness is not the only reason that is important.
How idealism beats self-gain
It is often said that these leaders have one common trait. And that would be crazy visions and ideas that bring people together. Understanding who you are working with and inspiring them to become better at it. All for achieving one goal, one idea that separates them from the rest of the flock. What mostly separates these teams from others is their interest. Self-gain is something every human strives for. It is in our nature to want to survive. And who does not want money?
However, money and self-interest are not what produces the best result. Yes, they are important for survival, but are they really that important? There are much more things that bring out value in life than money. And that is what transformational leadership brings out in people. It brings out the wish to follow and work hard on an inspiring mission. A vision towards a change in the future and an identity. I mean who would not want to leave their name in the history books. Or if not there, just to leave a trace in the world and to change it. This topic interested me mainly due to it being closely similar to what I want to do with life and my own goals.
How to know if you are a transformational leader?
Many of us might have traits similar to those of this people. So let’s get to listing them and see if you are or know someone who might be a transformational leader. A motivation that comes from within, or simply say passion. You need to do what you love and love what you do otherwise you will never be able to take the first step. After passion comes decision-making, and not only simple decisions like which toilet paper will we buy for the company. But the hard decisions which might impact the future of your team, company or project which you are leading.
Keeping your ego in check
Now, this may be one of the hardest parts that many leaders struggle with. When it comes to leadership, ego is one of the things that ruin many teams. What I mean with this is that most people won’t be able to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the team or other people. If I were to associate this characteristic with someone then I would have to say it would be Shanks from One Piece. If you haven’t seen One Piece you can skip this part. At the start of One Piece first episodes, Shanks is introduced as the pirate whom Luffy idolizes. There is a scene at a bar when mountain bandits come in and start trashing the place. Shanks gets his head smashed and covered in alcohol.
However, he had not lost his temper and refused to attack the bandits. Now if you were a big notorious pirate and knew you were strong, would you be able to keep yourself in control without bursting out in anger and beating the guy? Probably not, and many of us could not stand it. Though if you look at it from this perspective, that is a trait that makes a good leader. Knowing when to be serious and when to just let it roll. Keeping your ego in check may be hard, and for some, it may even be impossible.
Being able to keep a cool mind does not necessarily always have to mean you do not have to take risks. This does not mean you will jump off a bridge just because someone told you to. But making calculated risks is a common trait among many transitional leaders. If you take a look at Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King you will see they both took a lot of risks. Martin Luther King fought for the rights of African Americans and against discrimination in general. Even though his protest was peaceful many claims that his life was not that peaceful during the era of protest.
At the time computers where science fiction, a visionary Steve Jobs worked his way against IBM. Even though Steve Jobs did not create the computer like many people believe. He did create apple and lead the people like a true leader. Your primary example can be Wozniak. Wozniak single handed-ly developed Apple I, the first product which he and Steve brought to market. Even though Wozniak was a genius he did not believe in himself. And did not believe he could even sell it. When Jobs saw what he built he had a vision, a vision that would change the world. And so he did, leading Wozniak and several others they certainly built a legacy that will be remembered unless an asteroid erases us from existence.
Transformational leaders understand what needs to be done, and what actions to take to form creativity. They believe in themselves and their vision and have the adaptability to change based on the environment they are working in. With their open-mindedness to ideas and suggestions from their team, they are able to bring forth innovations. They simply inspire others and make them better which later brings forth amazing growth in the team.
Now before I finish this article I would like to mention two more characters from anime which I consider to be very good leaders. First of all is Onizuka from GTO. Even though he is not really a role-model person, he is a great teacher. He understands his student’s issues and helps them cope with them or fix them. And he is doing it in his own weird way. You could say that Onizuka falls into a completely new group of leadership, he is the hentai transformational leader which does things in a very weird way.
While if we look at Oikawa, he fits the profile of a transformational leader perfectly. If we look at all the points we can see how he is calm, rational and always does what’s best for the team. He quickly adapts to any team he is in and makes them play at its maximum potential. You simply want to play with him.
That would be all from me on transformational leadership, if you want to you can express your opinion down below in the comment section. And also if you enjoyed this you might also like our post on pirating in the 21st century or perhaps a look into first impressions and theories behind them. Thank you for reading.