Best Practices

Transformational Leadership: How to Inspire Change

Jonathan Friedman
February 20, 2021
Transformational Leadership: How to Inspire Change

Are you having trouble leading your team through change? Are you new to transformational leadership and not sure where to start? Do you need some help inspiring your organization to change?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're in the right place.

We're here to tell you all about a revolutionary concept: transformational leadership. The transformational leadership theory guides leaders - both young and old - through a mental and emotional journey. By learning new leadership techniques and skills, you'll become a more effective leader fit to charge any team.

To learn more about the transformational leadership theory and how you can (and should) apply it to your own life, keep reading. We have everything you need to know.

Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

What is transformational leadership?

Believe it or not, transformational leadership is not a new concept. People in all realms of professionalism have been using the transformation leadership theory. This includes those people working in everything from politics to finance to entertainment to sports.

In order for transformational leadership to truly be 'transformational,' that leader needs to have a grip on the future of whatever or whomever he/she is leading. This means that a transformational leader encourages their team to work towards a common goal. This kind of leadership also includes essential acts such as motivation and positivity.

Rather than forcing your team to work hard, it would help if you encouraged them to do so. Rather than making your team care, you should show them why they should care.

In order to adequately lead this group, the transformation leader also implements a 'vision' and 'mission' statement. Both of these are goals that the organization and individuals are looking to meet.

A vision statement tells everyone where you want the organization or group that you're leading to be in the future. Include why you want these things in the future and how you plan to get there.

A mission statement tells everyone why your organization or group was made in the first place. This defines your organization or group's purpose for existing. For some, it serves to go back to an establishment's roots or core.

Having set goals with a driven sense of purpose will make an organization unstoppable. This is one of the significant reasons why transformational leaders are so successful.

Overall, transformational leaders can take a stagnant group and make them productive again. A transformational leader inspires their group to work as one unit towards a common goal to be achieved in the future.

What are the elements of transformational leadership?

Many people think about transformational leadership and its theory as four elements that intertwine and work together. These four elements are the following:

  1. Influencing as a role model
  2. Caring for employees
  3. Encouraging innovation and creativity
  4. Motivating on all fronts

Let's dive into each one of these transformational leadership elements and see how they correspond to the theory.

1. Influencing as a role model

A transformational leader has to be comfortable with people seeing him/her as a role model. That position naturally comes with the territory.

Your team members will be looking to you for advice, comfort, counsel, and mentorship. All in all, it's a great responsibility to have.

However, it is an extra responsibility that that individual has to take into account. If you or the person that you're delegating as the leader is uncomfortable with this, it's not the job for you/them.

Being a role model is great, but it does come with ridicule, judgment, and analysis. These apply to everything in that person's life.

People may be watching their social media account or judging their lunch choices. Whatever they do can be put under a microscope.

This is why it's crucial to choose a leader with solid morals and values. Have a conversation with your potential leader about what kind of conduct you expect at and outside of work.

Make sure that this aligns with the organization's morals and values.

Also, this leader should have a strong work ethic. If he/she is delegated work without doing any work him/herself, you'll find that the team won't be willing to do the work either.

Even a charismatic person can't argue their way out of this one. Your team needs to see that everyone is doing their part, including the delegated leader. Otherwise, that leader will not earn the respect of the team.

2. Caring for employees

A leader cares about the people that are following him/her. They do not boast about their position, and they do not stomp on those they work with.

Instead, a leader cares for their fellow employees in several ways:

Balancing all of these tasks is difficult. These tasks and the role of a transformational leader as a whole isn't for anybody.

The leader you designate has to be okay with juggling all of these emotional roles while also fulfilling the other transformational leadership theory elements. 

3. Encouraging innovation and creativity

While working with their team, the transformational leader needs to encourage innovation and creativity among their team members. Without innovation or originality, the team has no way to move forward.

If you remember, focusing on the future is one of a transformational leader's tasks.

Through creative thinking and problem-solving, your team will be able to see its way out of almost any situation. Having creative individuals on the team to help create these solutions is essential. If your transformational leader is visionary, it's even better.

For the team to be critical thinkers, the transformational leader needs to be open and honest about their situations. With open communication, the team will be able to piece together solutions they wouldn't have previously had.

By generating ideas from each member, your team has a greater chance of solving problems that arise within the organization. Having all of these perspectives makes the problem-solving process more manageable and allows everyone to feel like they were part of the solution.

This back-and-forth interaction between all team members is crucial for its vitality and continuation.

The bottom line is that the transformational leader needs to encourage all ideas, even those that don't work out. By nurturing these ideas and implementing those that make sense for the current situation, the leader encourages individual participation.

This means that your team will be more likely to work together to solve problems in the future.

4. Motivating on all fronts

Your leader has to figure out a way to motivate every individual on the team. Employees are likely going to come to work feeling unmotivated and tired. It happens pretty often.

However, the leader has to have a way of getting around that unmotivated. Whether it's through games and comradery or breaks and rewards, the leader needs to encourage their employees to keep going.

This is why it's also essential for transformational leaders to know their team members personally and professionally. Your chosen transformational leader should ask their team members about their families and home lives. This brings the team closer together and allows the leader to consider their employees' problems.

What qualities should the leader have?

Because transformational leaders should have the ability to bring people together, they have to have a few qualities and characteristics that allow them to do that. Suppose you're trying to grow as a transformational leader or want to identify a great transformational leader. In that case, you should know and take note of the following characteristics:

There is no such thing as the perfect transformational leader, but these characteristics provide a guideline to finding the best fit leader.

Keep in mind that no one starts as a transformational leader. Everyone has the potential to grow and blossom into one. However, some people are natural-born leaders who can easily fit into this role.

One of the essential abilities that a transformational leader has is creating a positive work environment. This is a multi-faceted process that involves many moving parts.

To create a positive work environment, you have to bring together the right people who are going to work efficiently and effectively together towards a common goal. With this, every individual should have the right to express themselves freely, share their opinions, argue against another opinion, and disagree with your opinion.

All in all, no one in your organization, community, or group should feel singled-out or disrespectful. Your team needs to be a safe place for anyone and everyone to share their thoughts.

If you don't build a safe space, people won't feel free to share new and exciting ideas. Then, you're left with a stagnant group.

What is a transformational leader's primary goal?

As we've discussed, transformational leaders are always looking towards making the future a better time to be in. By setting goals and meeting objectives, they're looking towards continually improving their organization.

In one thought, transformational leaders are looking to make their organization the best that it can be.

To do this, a transformational leader must juggle many things at once. Most importantly, a transformational leader focuses on working with the people.

To be seen as an effective leader, you have to make sure that everyone feels seen and heard. This involves asking people for their opinions, gathering constructive criticism, looking into suggestions, and generally keeping everyone in balance.

This charismatic yet headstrong personality is hard to come by naturally and hard to learn. A transformational leader has to be 'for the people' to withstand the responsibilities and indications of the role.

What kind of organizations benefit from transformational leaders?

After hearing all of this talk about how unique, helpful, and inspiring transformational leaders are, we're sure that you're already looking inward to find the transformational leader in yourself or those around you. You may be wondering if transformational leadership is right for your organization.

The truth is that - no matter what your organization, industry, or goal is - a transformational leader can be beneficial.

It doesn't matter how bad you are or why you think you need this kind of guidance. You don't have to be a failing company or a popular company to take advantage of the transformational leadership theory.

As the name indicates, transformational leaders transform the teams and organizations they're in. This doesn't necessarily mean that they're taking these teams from wrong to the right. It could mean that they're talking a team from good to better or better to best.

You don't need to have a sob story to have a transformational leader, just like you don't need a million dollars to hire one.

If you're looking to benefit from a transformational leader, all you have to do is get to work. Identify (or hire) someone who seems to have a transformational leader's characteristics and personality traits. Ask them if they're up to the job and get running with a more successful team and the company overall.

Transformational leadership examples

While it may seem that transformational leaders are hard to come by, they do exist. Below are three transformational leadership example.

  1. Steve Jobs at Apple
  2. Satya Nadella at Microsoft
  3. Eric Schmidt at Google

How do I incorporate transformational leadership into my organization?

If you're convinced that transformational leadership is what your team is missing, you now need to start incorporating it. Transformational leadership theory isn't incorporated overnight, nor will your team accept it in a day.

You need to change current roles and implement new ones slowly. You can't change everything at once.

By slowing down like this, you'll also build a system that's made to last rather than one that was made to fail.

The first step to implementing a transformational leader in your organization is to train that transformational leader. You can't introduce them to your team on the first day. They have to be ready to take over the team immediately, or they won't gain the respect that they need.

It would be best if you made a few considerations when you're speaking to and training your new transformational leader.

Talk about successful personality traits

First, you need to establish the personality traits and personal characteristics that you're expecting from your transformational leader. Whether you're assessing yourself or someone else, you should be thinking objectively. Picking the right leader for your team is crucial to the team's success. The most widely-recognized abilities of a successful leader include:


Every single one of these is important in their own right.


The ability to empathize


The ability to empathize allows leaders to put themselves in their team members' shoes. This means that they'll understand and adequately respond to a wide range of scenarios that may come up among their team members.


The ability to speak


The ability to speak calls for a high level of charisma, whether natural or learned. Communicating with your team effectively is arguably the most critical trait for a transformational leader to have. If he/she can't convince the team to do what they're suggesting, you won't reap any of the benefits of transformational leadership.


The ability to inspire


The ability to inspire is one of the more popular traits of a transformational leader. Having an inspiring voice to listen to is essential. To enact change and help your team see the difference that could happen, the designated leader has to inspire them.


As you're looking inward towards yourself or outwards at others, don't try to seek perfection. Your transformational leader has to have some backstory or fault. They won't be relatable or respectable otherwise.

Find someone who fits these characteristics or who is willing to put in the work to improve these characteristics.

Create a proper team culture

If you want your team to succeed, you need to build a respect and appreciation culture. We won't get too much into this since we've already discussed the importance of inclusion, but we do want to explore the culture beyond collaboration and innovation more.

We already know that your team needs to work together by listening to one another and valuing what each other has to say. However, there's more that goes into creating an inspirational work environment.

Usually, companies looking to create a more motivational and inspirational space will set various systems into place.

For example, you may want to create a rewards system for your team. Perhaps they get a reward every time they do something 'x' number of times.

You may want to hold group events: a dance, a conference, a brunch, or a dinner. Feel free to allow the team to invite their significant others and make an entire night of it. You can help your group members grow closer this way while also ensuring that they're getting time to relax from work responsibilities.

Some companies offer benefits. If you have a partnership with another company, you should see if your team can get discounts there. 

By incorporating small things like this, every team member will feel more appreciated. In turn, they will be more motivated to work hard for the organization providing all of these things.

Define and implement your organization's values

As you're redefining your team and looking towards transformational leadership theory, we urge you to take a second look at the values that you've placed at the core of your organization. That said, you should make core values now if you haven't done so up until this point.

A core value is something that your company should carry with it in any situation. There are several popular core values that many different companies claim and implement:

Whether you choose from that list or take inspiration from another core value, we urge you to define and implement it as quickly as possible. You should know what your core values will be before you start transforming your leadership style.

Core values define how your team should act in work situations. You're defining how your team members should act when faced with challenges. What kind of individuals do you want your team members to be?

As you're implementing these values, you should make sure that they're being accepted and used in all aspects and measures. You want to be sure that your team embraces and respects them to the fullest extent. Otherwise, there's no point in having those core values at all.

Transformational leadership and project management software

As you're implementing transformational leadership across your company and - more specifically - within your team, you need to think about how you're going to take it to the next step. Transformational leadership alone is decisive.

However, with a project management system, transformational leadership is unstoppable.

Begin your transformation journey with TrueNxus

TrueNxus understands how to most effectively plan and execute change management. Our workspace is built to enable your entire organization as a cross-functional team. It has everything that you need to undertake enterprise transformation.

In any business transformation you need help with:

Here's a look at some of TrueNxus's features:

1. Multiple views

Personalized views illustration

With any change initiative, people require different ways to visualize work across time. Not only that, but each individual specializes in a specific domain, and as such, each thinks about work differently. To ensure successful planning and execution, you need software that provides personalized views that make sense to everyone involved in the change. These views need to be in sync as well.

TrueNxus provides you with the following views:

List

Plan screenshot

A list is a table that allows you to manage your cross-functional projects easily. You can organize your project work into groups such as workstreams or any logical way to categorize tasks.

Timeline

Product roadmap or project timeline screenshot

With TrueNxus's Timeline, a Gantt-chart like view, you can visualize your project plans across time. It lets you understand how all of the work fits together. You can make updates to the project plans through an interactive interface.

3. Automated project status reports

Automated project status reports illustration

We understand that each cross-functional team member is busy balancing multiple priorities, from your day-to-day responsibilities to various programs and projects. Therefore, TrueNxus successfully executes monitoring and controlling projects by automatically analyzing the project's health in real-time, giving senior leadership and the team the insights they need to make decisions and move the ball forward.

4. My Work

View all of your work in one place

Another essential thing for everyone involved in a business transformation is understanding what you're on the hook for delivering. With TrueNxus, you can view every task and every dependency vital to you, across every project, in one location, ensuring success.

5. Dependencies

Dependencies

Additionally, we know that you don't want to let your colleagues down or be let down. You can ensure the successful delivery of programs and projects through collaboration and documenting task dependencies. By doing so, you can be accountable when others are reliant on you. You can understand dependent tasks, change implications, and adjust course as needed.

6. Automated notifications

Automated workflows - notifications

No matter your role in any digital transformation, you can also successfully execute work by leveraging software to notify when changes occur. With TrueNxus's 20+ out-of-the-box automated notifications, you will have the transparency you need to stay in-the-know.

7. Comments

Cross-functional team collaboration - comments

Additionally, the entire cross-functional team can ensure project plans are successful by collaborating directly in the app. With TrueNxus, you can communicate with colleagues, clients, consultants, and contractors in one place.

8. Project charter

Charter illustration

Lastly, you can leverage OKR and create a project charter. You can ensure the successful execution of projects by documenting and aligning the project's objectives, benefits, and risks from the very beginning. TrueNxus is the only software that has a project charter directly in the app.

Conclusion


Think about how powerful your team and your organization will be with a leader who is willing to stop and organize projects, ideas, and tasks. By breaking everything up, your leader will be making it easier for everyone (including him/herself) to get things done.

Your company will become more productive, and those big projects will seem like nothing.

Try our software for free and see how your team flourishes. You'll be amazed by how quickly your team pulls together with this kind of productivity software on their side.