An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Transformational Leadership

What is Transformational Leadership?

Transformational leadership is a leadership style that focuses on inspiring and motivating team members to make positive changes within an organization. Rather than focusing on making decisions and strategic plans, they focus on facilitating collaboration between peers, providing support, and communicating a vision that pushes everyone forward.

What are the 4 “I’s” of transformational leadership?

The four "I"s of transformational leadership are often associated with the leadership model developed by leadership expert Bernard M. Bass and later expanded by James MacGregor Burns. These "I"s represent key components and behaviors of transformational leaders:

  • Idealized Influence: They act as positive role models, gaining the trust, admiration, and respect of their employees. They demonstrate high ethical standards and embody the values and work ethic they wish to see in their team.
  • Inspirational Motivation: They articulate a compelling vision of the future that energizes and motivates employees. They convey a sense of purpose and direction, instilling enthusiasm and optimism among the team.
  • Individualized Consideration: They pay individual attention to the needs and development of their employees. They provide personalized support, coaching, and encouragement to help each team member understand their strengths and areas of improvement.
  • Intellectual Stimulation: They empower employees to express ideas freely, solve problems, and actively participate in the organization’s evolution. By valuing these diverse perspectives, they stimulate intellectual curiosity and promote a culture of continuous learning and growth.

What are the characteristics of a transformational leader?

Most transformational leaders have the following traits in common:

  • Encourage innovation and forward-thinking ideas
  • Demonstrate a high level of empathy and charisma
  • Lead by example
  • Stay adaptable and open-minded
  • Facilitate equal and inclusive participation 
  • Are self-aware

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