"Lead, follow or get out of the way." — American Saying
Parents. One can argue that parents are transformational leaders within a small group called the family. They have the task of turning an extremely selfish entity called a child into a human being. I had a friend say to me once that children are animals, they must be transformed in human beings by good parents.
Coaches. The transformational task of a coach is dual in nature. First, one must install in players the skills and motivation to keep trying despite many set backs. And in some sports such as basketball and soccer, one takes selfish individuals and turns them into team players.
Religious Leaders. A tougher challenge here. They seek to turn the flawed into the moral and the selfish into the ethical.
Entrepreneurs . Almost all the writing focuses an the managerial side of being an entrepreneur. However, they must must also exhibit transformational leadership or their organizations fail to grow. It is as simple, and as complex, as that.
theories of leadership development stress how to be effective within
the status quo—what's called transactional leadership.
A leader using this style can be very influential, but
they change very little. To use a popular expression,
these people are good at “rearranging the deck
chairs on the Titanic", but they can’t keep
the ship from sinking.
many organizations run lean on transformational leaders,
the vast majority of the leaders inside organizations
being transactional. Thus we see organizations decline
as there is an increasingly disconnect between “the
way things should be done” and “the way we
do things here.”
Transformational Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
There are a number of leader styles, some relatively easy to do. But still others require a great deal of practice along with determined effort to build the component skills. This is the case with transformational leadership.
All individuals who aspire to become great transformational leaders must master their own emotions. After all, would you want to follow someone who has anger management problems? Effective transformational leaders understand how another will respond to a persuasive or motivational attempt. And when they do not correctly anticpate, they have enough empathy to adjust.
One might say this this theory is a correction for the assumption made in business schools that humans are rationally. If fact, this is a key assumption underlying the dominant theories held by the field of economics.
Transformational leaders cannot assume logic and rationale in responding to change, one will have to deal with illogic and negative emotions. And so, the importance of being high on emotional intelligence.
those who do not seek power are qualified to hold it." — Plato
Technically, emotional intelligence is not about leadership. The Emotional Intelligence approach stresses five developmental areas:
b. Social Skills
d. Self-Awareness, and
e. Achievement Motivation
Leader’s need to have a number of different types of skills. One of the practical skills transformational leaders need to develop this the ability to read people’s emotions. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and different cultures have different facial expressions for different types of emotions.
Unlike IQ, it is thought that your EQ can keep growing throughout life—and in some it does. However, since most of us will never be a diplomat, we don't develop our human relations skills fully. A macho male (or female) will not develop empathy since it's too "touchy feelly." And partly lack of growth has to do with inbuilt problems associated with an immature Ego, one symptom of which is low self-awareness and self-discipline. Of course, many of us would like to make self-improvements, but there never seems to have enough energy left over at the end of the day.
It has yet to be shown that extremely high IQs are not that important in transformational leadership. Nor has it been determined what personality traits are necessary elements with this style.
In any case, since both of these have a pretty high genetic component, maybe they aren't worth changing. For example, one could argue that it's nearly impossible to change IQ. But while traits can be changed, it this is a difficult thing to do..
However, emotional intelligence (EQ) is assumed to be completely learned (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009) and an extremely important component skill set to being a transformational leader (Goleman, 2013). Even so, EQ still is not an easy thing to master.
Goleman, Daniel (2013). Social Intelligence Competencies Predict Transformational Leadership Style and Effectiveness. Linked-in.com.
Bradberry, Travis & Greaves, Jean (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0, TalentSmart.
The Evolution of a Great Founder: Bill Gates, Former CEO of Microsoft
There is a certain type of transformational leader that many try to be, but few succeed. This type of personal, the Great Founder, also requires a set of skills not taught in the university.
In fact, one of the most successful entrepreneurs ever, Bill Gates, decided to drop out of Harvard and start a business called Microsoft. One can almost image how that conversation went. The future entrepreneur saying, "Mom, I want to drop out of school so that I can work on an entrepreurial venture for 80 hours a week, for now pay, that has a high probability of failure." But unlike most entrepreneurs, he never failed and Microsoft was never unprofitable.
For example, It was said that he took on on a 5% equity investment from a venture capitalist, not because the money was needed, but because they wanted more expertise on the board. Below are three short videos from a recent interview Bill Gates gave at Harvard.
leadership is about implementing new ideas; these individuals
continually change themselves; they stay flexible and
adaptable; and continually improve those around them.
Transformational leaders has been written about for thousands
of years--being both praised (Christ and Buddha) and
cursed (Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan).
two theorists most associated with its modern incarnation
in America are Bass and Burns. In many articles and in
his book, Improving Organizational Effectiveness
Through Transformational Leadership, Bass talked
about the fundamental theoretical qualities that define
transformational leadership from it's polar opposite,
Burns, James MacGregor
before him, James McGregor Burns wrote a Pulitzer Prize
winning book titled Leadership (see below).
He eloquently described qualities transformational leaders
possess in different fields of endeavors ranging from
the military, to business, to politics.
According to Bass, these individuals possess:
is one of those leadership qualities that is hard to
define; like beauty, you know it when you experience
it. I remember a quote, about a charismatic individual
by the name of Oliver North. One of his men once said
about him, "I would follow him to hell since he
is the only man I know who could get me back."
Vision. This involves
the creation of a compelling picture of the future,
a desired future state that people identify with. By
creating this vision, the leader provides a means for
people to develop commitment, a common goal around
around which to rally, and a way for people to feel
Intellectual stimulation. Transformational
leaders show new ways of looking at old problems, they
challenge the existing boundaries and the mental prisons
people put themselves into.
inspire is difficult, requiring as as it does a decent
understanding of psychology.
What does a psychologist know about leadership? Quite a lot in this case. Of the many psychologists who wrote in this area is Daniel Goleman. His name is most associated with this concept primarily because of two widely read books he wrote. He has also written a third book on emotional intelligence called, "Primal Leadership."
Transformational Leadership Example: Queen Elizabeth I of England
are similarities between managing a corporation and running
a country. The most obvious difference—countries
are much harder to run.
Elizabeth began her reign, England was, to put it mildly,
a mess. Ascending to the throne at a particularly chaotic
time of British history, she was beset by enemies from
without and within. A betting man would have put good odds
on her getting through the first two-years alive.
at the end of her 45 year reign, England had become the
richest and most powerful nation in Europe and was well
on its way to becoming one of the great powers of the modern
age. Bottom line: No Elizabeth—No British Commonwealth.
Example of a Famous Transformational Leadership: Alexander The Great
King of Macedonia, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Persia and Afghanistan
It contains numerous hot links to more detailed
information on key people, events and places during that
period of history.
can one so young accomplish so much? By the time Alexander
died in 323 BC, he had not yet reached his 33rd birthday.
Yet, in that short time, he had created an empire that
stretched from Greece to India.
an age where tyrants ruled by brute force and fear, he
defied the conventional political wisdom of the time.
Rather than cleaning out the treasury of a conquered
nation and then taxing them them to the max, he built
new cities (often called Alexandria's), libraries; established
mechanisms for communication and commerce; had engineers
build new roads, and had scientists capture new knowledge.
as much for his sound strategy and tactical innovation
in the military arena as his wise statesmanship in the
political sphere, he was the student of Aristotle who
went on to became even greater than his teacher.
Transformational Leadership Books
A leadership book typically teaches you what, but life teaches you how." — Unknown
Good books can be invaluable to the study and development of transformational skills. There are many good books and new one come out more all the time. This list focuses more on the classics.
James MacGregor Burns (2003). Transforming Leadership, New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
Twenty-five years after the publication of Leadership,
Burns expands his theories on how leaders cultivate transformational
leadership skills in themselves and in their successors.
with the explaining the two opposing styles: those who
occupy the position (they arrange the deck chairs on the
Titanic) and those who transform not only their own position, but
those around it (they fix the ship).
history, citing meaningful examples from the lives of great political
transformational leaders. Unlike many writers, he possesses
into recent psychological approaches and so has a more profound
understanding of transformational leadership.
Burns, James MacGregor, (1982). Leadership, New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Considered a classic by many, the book was the
winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award after
it was published in 1978. It focuses on the many different
types of leadership. Burns argues that the type of leadership
exercised by a general in the military is in many respects different
from that used by an executive in a multinational corporation,
a mayor of city or the head of a religious organization.
Two chapters of the book cover power and purpose
of leadership, three chapters on the origin of leadership, four
chapters are dedicated
to understanding transformational leadership and five chapters
cover transactional leadership. On the change side
of things, he covers heroic, moral, revolutionary and reform
styles of transformational leadership.
He illustrates his points with vivid historical
stories on Joan of Arc, Freud, Gandhi, Mao, the Roosevelt's,
and others. He also puts forth his
that great leaders play to mutual need, empathy and growth;
whether one lives
within the status quo or tries to transform it.
• Paperback: 544 pages
Yukl, Gary. (2002) Leadership In Organizations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.
Much can be learned by a good book honed by
constant improvement. Originally published in 1981, Yukl's
book is now up to the fifth edition. The book is jammed packed
of sound theory on leadership. It contains fifteen chapters,
some of which are listed below:
In his recent
book Primal Leadership, Goleman presents the theory
on why emotional intelligence is an important
for leader effectiveness.
It makes sense
that leaders are not only be aware and in control of their own
emotions, but also able to influence individuals at an emotional
level. Can you take someone who is feeling "down" and
leave them feeling "up?"
Kouzes, James and Posner, Barry (2007). The
Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition, San Franciso, CA: Jossey-Bass.
By James Kouzes
and Barry Posner
There is a
story of a rather old professor who was adamant about not having
read the first edition on any textbook. It was his belief that
good theory only gets better with age and reprints.
While not a
textbook, The Leadership Challenge continues to get
published and republished since it first came out in 1989.
The book presents
five leadership principles. These five are:
a Shared Vision
c. Model the
Others to Act, and
While not claiming
to be a book on transformational leadership, these principles lend
themselves to its implementation.
Bass, Bernard, and Riggio (2005). Transformational Leadership, 2nd Edition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
This is a book
written from the academic side of view--strong on theory and strong
on research. Bass, unlike with Burns, has developed
a very strong reputation as a scholar in the area of transformational
Tichy, Noel & Devanna, Mary (1986). The Transformational Leader. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
By Noel M. Tichy, Mary Anne Devanna
This book takes a different path and focuses on the transformational
leader in the context of the organization. It really goes into the
inside story of how to be a great leader in the world of business.