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A Student's Guide to Leadership

Transformational Leadership

Leadership Characteristics & Traits
Share Your Thoughts! What Makes a GREAT leader?
Transformational Leadership
Decision Making
Motivate Your Team
Leadership Analysis - Winston Churchill
Leadership Analysis - Lee Kuan Yew
Leadership Analysis - Rudy Giuliani
Quiz - What's Your Leadership Potential?
Videos - Famous Speeches By Great Leaders
Further Training in Leadership
Handy links
Handy References

“Transformational Leadership” is a very recent perspective of leadership. It is a very persuasive form of leadership and this has been validated around the world.

"The leader always sets the trail for others to follow."

Robbins, Millett and Waters-Marsh (2004, p. 369) defines Transformational Leadership as a build upon a strong foundation of “Transactional Leadership” which is, “guiding or motivating their followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying role and task requirement.” Transformational Leaders are more amazing in the sense that they are able to, “inspire followers to transcend their own self-interests and are capable of having a profound and extraordinary effect on followers.”


Transformational Leadership is regarded by Davidson and Griffin (2003, p. 585) as, “a reliable reflection of the full range of leadership behaviour and is a valid predictor of effective leadership outcomes.” They believe the effectiveness of a transformational leader is due to the several traits they may possess:


  • Charismatic Leadership – “idealized influence,” the leader is seen as a role model and are admired, respected and trusted
  • Inspirational Motivation – Displaying optimism and creating enthusiasm by articulating their visions and communicating their expectations to their followers effectively
  • Intellectual Stimulation – Stimulate their followers by encouraging them to think outside the box and to question assumptions. Creativity is praised and no ideas are publicly criticized or ridiculed
  • Contingent Reward – A motivational theory that is applied to achieve results. A leader and follower communicate their expectations of what another in terms of what rewards will be gained for the work done.
  • Management by Exception – This is a corrective measure taken by leaders when they feel they need to intervene and manage a situation in order to achieve a desired outcome. The manager can step in when an exception to the desired outcome occurs or they can actively monitor errors and mistakes consistently.


(Davidson & Griffin, 2003, p.585)


Dubrin, Daglish and Miller (2006, p. 104) believes that in the case of transformational leadership, emphasis is placed upon the leader’s accomplishments rather than their personal characteristics. They add that these transformations take place through the following seven steps:


1. Raising People’s Awareness – Communicating the importance of their work and the rewards that will be achieved and how to obtain those awards.

2. Helping People Look Beyond Self-Interest – Asks people to look at the “bigger picture” and to consider how the team, organisation and community may benefit rather than their own personal gain.

3. Helping People Search for Self-Fulfillment – A transformational leader will help their followers look beyond minor satisfactions

4. Helping People Understand the Need for Change – In order for a success, a transformational must help their followers understand why change is necessary. Team members must be given the emotional and intellectual aid necessary fpr a successful transition

5. Investing Managers with a Sense of Urgency – Transformations are achieved by creating a skilled team of managers who share the same vision as the leader and are able to appreciate the urgency of change and help facilitate it

6. Committing to Greatness – Leaders must adopt this attitude and exude it in order to ennoble human nature and strengthen society.

7. Adopting a Long-Range Perspective and at the Same Time Observing Organisational Issues from a Broad Rather then a Narrow Perspective – Having a future and optimistic way of thinking has a positive effect and will encourage followers to also do so (Dubrin, Daglish and Miller, 2006, pp. 104-108).

A Student's Guide to Leadership