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Exploring the Traits of a Transformational Leader: Essential Characteristics and Qualities


Believe it or not, there is a big difference between being in charge of people and having the leadership skills that benefit an organization or company and all the people that make it what it is. In a time where there is so much change, which is the only constant, the world is looking for the type of people who highlight the essential characteristics and qualities of a transformational leader. In this article, we unveil the traits of a transformational leader and give you the tools you need to become one.

What is Transformational Leadership?

“Be the change that you want to see in the world”. It’s one of the most famous quotes in the world and ties in nicely with how we define this style of leadership. When someone takes a transformational leadership approach and acts as a role model, their goal is to motivate, inspire, and support their team members to be a part of the company or organization’s goals for the future, all while having their finger on the pulse and keeping up with this constant state of change.

Key Benefits of Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is all about encouraging positive change while remaining authentic in your intentions throughout the entire process. There are a whole host of key benefits to this leadership style, all of which can lead to intellectual stimulation, better performance, improved well-being and a universal sense of empowerment among a team.

Increased employee motivation and engagement

When a leader’s mission is to inspire their staff to be as passionate about their vision for the business as they are, they go the whole nine yards for their team. When people feel as though they are a part of something, that they play a role in its success, and are fully engaged in what they’re doing, the collective effort for the purpose of change is a lot more powerful than the work of one leader. Being a good leader means bringing everyone else along for the journey, which in turn, ultimately enhances employee performance.

Promotes innovation and creativity

When you’re doing the same thing day-in and day-out, especially in your standard 9 to 5 job, the work and the tasks you’re required to undertake can get a bit tedious. Transformational leadership turns that on its head. In order for transformational leadership to be effective, it has to inspire innovation and creativity. When people have the freedom to express themselves, challenge the status quo, have their voices heard and contribute ideas, that’s when change happens. When everyone is on the same page, it helps to build strong and cohesive teams.

Improves employee satisfaction and retention

How we work has changed significantly over the past few years, and even more so over the past 50. Previously, it was very common for people to work in one specific industry and stay in it long-term, sometimes even for their whole career. Now, people are more experimental with their career path, which often means a high turnover in staff. Keeping staff relies on the transformational leadership theory – when it exists, it increases employee satisfaction and retention.

Develops Future Leaders

Being a transformational leader also means that you’re not just focused on the impact that you can make in the time you are in the role, but also the legacy you can leave behind. It’s about setting an example that makes others working their way up the food chain want to be the type of leader you have shown them that you can be. People who have worked for companies like Apple and Microsoft have seen this act of transformational leadership and then have gone on to create their own businesses, many of which are leading the way for whatever industry they are in.

Characteristics of a Transformational Leader

Now that you know what a transformational leader is, let’s talk about the characteristics of a transformational leader and the power they have to change the dynamic of a work environment.

Inspirational Motivation

Most of the time when people in senior positions tell someone in their team what to do or throw around demands, it isn’t well received. The goal is to inspire and get people as excited about the future of the business as you are. Staff need to feel as though they are motivated, intellectually stimulated, have a sense of purpose and are contributing something to the cause that is valued by their leaders. 

Empowerment and Supportive Nature

While tough love can at times be a good technique, it’s not particularly effective in a workplace situation. Good staff are hard to find, so keeping them takes work. A transformational leadership style shows adaptability, empowers the team, and supports them to reach not just the company’s goals, but their own personal ambitions within the role. Having strong communication skills is also imperative for organizational effectiveness, as well as understanding different personality traits and working styles.

Common Goals and Focus on Results

If you’re a highly work-focused individual, it can be easy to focus too much on personal gain and get tunnel vision. That’s when we forget that sustainable success is only obtained when you have others backing you. It takes a village to achieve certain outcomes, so keeping an open mind about what others want and ensuring that your goals align to have a shared vision is key. It can be easy to get sidetracked, but you have to be focused on results as a leader in order to get where you want to be.

Confidence in Decision-Making

Building trust is also a strong characteristic of a transformational leader. When you show that you have clear vision and are going to do what you say you’re going to do, your team will be able to see that you’re reliable. Showing confidence in your decision-making also helps to build rapport with those you’re leading and encourage them to work hard to meet your expectations, as well as their own expectations of themselves.

Final Thoughts

Transformational leadership is about doing things differently. We’ve seen in many situations that the type of leadership where someone is only focused on their own success and how they are perceived is just not conducive to long-term success for companies and organizations. Being the type of leader who motivates and inspires, recognizes the power of teamwork, supports their staff to be the best they can be, and does things differently in order to keep up with the changing pace of the business world is the difference between being a good leader and a great leader.


Aish Hinton

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