6 reasons why a transformational leader is more effective

By Shameem Mohamed Ismail

A transformational business leader creates a positive environment to perform their duties of individuality and is charismatic in influencing and inspiring them. Instead of using set problem-solving techniques, they involve employees to come up with solutions to problems as they arise. Transformational leaders in a workplace setting quickly identify areas in need of improvement, seeking out-of-the-box solutions. Through consultation and individualised consideration, the leader identifies cynicism and intentions to quit among teachers. Realigning their values and goals to resonate with those of the school, the leader reassures resources that they are needed and valued.

Becoming a transformational leader is not that easy, though. Transformational leadership is all about perception. It only works if it can influence the core — the follower’s feelings. Charismatic and inspiring, transformational leaders are well versed the power of language and imagery. “Transformational characteristics” are included in training courses, but the personal effort of the leader determines whether transformational leadership is achievable.

Here are some reasons for you to consider adopting a transformational leadership style:

  1. Transformational leadership is so crucial that organisations often suffer without it. The positive connection between transformational leadership and job characteristics is so strong, we should almost expect the opposite result in organisations that do not employ it. When switching to a transformational style of leadership, a leader must understand how he or she is to influence task perception. The shaping of daily tasks in a transformational manner helps foster positive perceptions among followers.
  2. Transformational leadership makes work meaningful. Meta-analytic research has produced evidence of a positive relationship between transformational leadership and work-related results. These findings demonstrate that transformational leaders make work meaningful by providing autonomy. Followers of transformational leaders feel strongly that their work is esteemed and self-congruent.
  3. Transformational leadership makes workers feel more empowered. Transformational leadership encourages a feeling of empowerment in all followers. There is an inverse relationship between cynicism and transformational leadership because persons under a highly transformational leader are usually intellectually stimulated and constantly challenged to be open-minded. Various studies have demonstrated associations between follower empowerment and job satisfaction, decreased anger and frustration, and a sense of organisational attachment.
  4. Transformational leadership allows workers to feel connected to their organisation. Transformational leaders motivate by increasing followers’ self-efficacy, facilitating social identification within a group, and linking organisational values to follower values. This allows followers to feel more determined in their work and augments their perceived empowerment.
  5. Transformational leadership makes workers want to stay around. While cynicism and intentions to quit are widely considered symptoms of employee negativity, initial research on organisational behaviours has considered them generalised traits. Recent studies found cynicism to be a specific construct that reflects the followers’ perception of the leader. Cynicism results from ineffective leadership and lack of participation and consultation in decision-making. Intention to quit (ITQ) is another form of employee’s negative reaction to poor leadership. Factors linked to ITQ include poor pay, lack of job satisfaction, and goal commitment. Employees are unlikely to have ITQ in an organisation where their need for efficacy is met in their respective job responsibilities. Highly resilient followers are more likely to adopt after setbacks at work rather than leave the organisation.
  6. Transformational leadership is universal. A study by Boehnke, Bontis, Distefano, and Distefano investigated the existence of universally consistent behaviours. They sampled 145 senior executives in two divisions of a global petroleum company and its subsidiaries around the world. One of the study’s significant findings was that the basic dimensions of leadership that produce extraordinary performance are universal, with slight variation in the six different parts of the world sampled. However, some leadership differences were attributed to the different corporate cultures in the two company divisions.

In the final result, transformational leadership is identified as consistent with a clear majority of sampled behaviours, as provided in the executives’ descriptions of their version of exceptional organisational performance. Terms such as visioning, intellectual stimulation, team building, coaching, and inspiring behaviour appeared in 68% or more of the responses. All those attributes refer to a transformational style of leadership.

It is intriguing to note that the only non-transformational characteristic in more than half of the reports was “recognising and rewarding,” at 62%, which is an element of the transactional style of leadership. It is apparent that transformational leadership is widely accepted as an exceptional leadership technique. It is applicable in all kinds of organisations, including the school setting. Whether you are a practicing leader or someone who aspires to become one, you would be well-advised to add transformational leadership to your repertoire.

Note: Shameem Mohamed Ismail is the Resident Manager at Kuramathi Maldives, one of Maldives’ best known resorts.

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