The Leadership Series: The power of transformational leadership

2nd May 2023 | 3 min read

LABS_Leadership_Blog-Header2-The Leadership Series: The power of transformational leadership

Could transformational leadership be the key to encouraging organisational collaboration and driving a vision forward? We look at what it takes to be a transformational leader. 

One of the styles of leadership currently gaining traction is transformational leadership. And with good reason too for it suits today’s fast-paced, high-tech world. Great leaders can inspire political movements, bring innovation to the masses or instigate social change. Think Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey or Steve Jobs. 


The origins of transformational leadership can be traced back to the 1970s, to an American historian and political scientist James MacGregor Burns who defined it as “leaders and followers make each other advance to a higher level of moral and motivation.” 

Transformational leaders go beyond the simpler idea of exchanges and rewards but rather dive deeper into their team’s motivation and help this along by giving value and purpose to what the organisation is doing, making work far more meaningful. The characteristics of transformational leadership can include:


Inspirational – able to encourage others as well as provide a unified vision for long term success which helps followers share the same passion and motivation, staying positive at all times. 

Emotionally intelligent – able to interpret emotions effectively and use their emotions to communicate with and relate to others. They practice active listening and take on board employees’ concerns and needs, as well as their ideas and input. They intrinsically understand what motivates people. 

Supportive – helping every member of the group succeed and motivating using enthusiasm and charisma, encouraging creativity and keeping lines of communication well and truly open. This encourages team members to ask questions and be more autonomous. 

Self-awarenessthriving on knowing their strengths and also their weaknesses, making inroads to improve on the latter, with a firm belief that learning is a lifetime activity.

Open-mindedtaking on board fresh perspectives from a variety of different sources rather than jumping to conclusions in order to make informed, strategic decisions.

Adaptablefuture-facing and unafraid of change, transformational leaders challenge the status quo and adjusting the way they and their teams work accordingly

Proactivesolving problems by making bold choices and well-informed risks rather than reacting to situations which sets the tone for how those around them act which results in new ways of doing things and new learning opportunities. 

Humilityhaving a good sense of who they are and aren’t afraid to admit when they make mistakes and learn from them, as well as content with not always being the centre of attention while still confident in their abilities.

Ethical – they have a strong moral code which earns respect and trust from their teams and it’s this model of behaviour which helps decision making throughout the organisation. 


The advantages of transformational leadership are numerous. These include better performance at work and higher levels of job satisfaction and wellbeing, compared with those working under different leadership styles. If the result of transformational leadership are a more engaged workforce that feels more empowered to innovate, what’s not to like?