Transformational Leadership


Transformational leadership is currently the most popular perspective of leadership. It is defined as a leadership approach that causes a change in individuals and social systems. Ideally, transformational leaders create positive change in their followers and ultimately develop their followers into leaders. However, don’t confuse this with pseudo-transformational leadership.

Transformational leadership is fairly easy to identify. These types often take control of the given situation and convey the vision or goal of the group or organization. They listen, remain calm, and look for opportunities. They are often passionate and can energize the room or group with their words. It’s about motivation and inspiration. It is easy to see why this type of leadership is so popular. However, it is far from perfect.

Transformational leadership holds some distinct limitations. For instance, this type of leader often lacks attention to detail regarding operations. This is obviously not a good thing and can be potentially devastating.

To explain this, we must acknowledge that all of the motivation in the world will not compensate for a worker’s lack of skills regarding task completion. If we “cause and effect” this particular example, we can foresee a transformational leader offering only words of encouragement when a detailed demonstration or training is needed instead.

This is not to say that transformational leadership doesn’t have its place; it does. I value this type of leadership in many roles. Instead, I am merely pointing out that its limitations create an opportunity for improvement in the leader. In my practice, I call this a “leadership gap.” If transformational leaders can recognize potential gaps and then proactively attempt to fill them, they will have greater success. Honest and constant self-reflection is critical for such leaders.