Leadership is an integral part of every business but there are many different styles out there. Here with Impact International, experts in creative change, we look at the benefits and how to implement transformational leadership into a business.

What is transformational leadership?

Transformational leadership was introduced by James McGregor Burns in his 1978 book titled, “Leadership.” He defined the phrase as a process where “leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation”.

This type of leadership inspires others, such as employees, to be the best that they can be. Successful transformational leadership can make the organisation and its workforce adaptive to change and hyperaware of the industry that they’re operating in.

Examples of transformational leaders include Satya Nadella who joined Microsoft in 1992 before becoming CEO in 2014. He recognised the potential interest in cloud technology and made it the company’s primary strategy — a success that changed the face of the company. Another example is Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe Systems — he was able to create a vision for digital marketing services and pushed the business in that direction.

What are the benefits?

Having a transformational leader in a business leads to the workforce being adaptive to change. With rising globalisation, constant innovations in technology and quick changing business environments, having a flexible service and reactive employees is important for survival.

This style of leadership provides supports and recognition and encourages people to look beyond their self-interest. This leads them to take genuine interest in progressing the business and helping I succeed. They often look out for potential opportunities that the business would benefit from and make these suggestions to their leader. All of these things keep your business ahead of competition and in a state of constant innovation.

A transformational leader inspires their subordinates and truly values what they have to say. This makes them feel more valued and more likely to stay within the company to see the changes that lie ahead. High staff retention is beneficial to a business as the recruitment and training process can be costly and time inefficient.

How can you implement transformational leadership into your organisation?

So, how can you implement this style of leadership into your organisation? It all starts with the actions and attitudes of the leader.

Start by building genuine relationships with your workforce. This can be achieved by organising regular 1-to-1 sessions to monitor the employees progress in the company, the areas that they can improve and hearing their ideas about the business. Building these relationships are important as it will lead to the employee trusting the leader, their vision and any changes in the business that are proposed. The personal sessions also give the leader a chance to explain what’s going on in the business and how the workforce contributes to business goals.

It’s all well and good for a leader to announce a vision for the company, but it takes a transformational leader to successfully deliver the vision. This takes strong people management skills, experience in the field and the ability to organise the workforce to work towards the vision. It also takes motivational skills — employees must be convinced that the idea will be successful and they must be committed to its delivery.

Another way to become this type of leader is to encourage employees to put their work into context and see the big impact that they are creating. This can be done by sending employees to conferences and asking them to mix with others in the industry. This reminds people of the contextual factors that are occurring outside of the company and adapt their work accordingly.