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How to Become A Transformational Leader

July 14, 2017

The all-knowing Wikipedia defines transformational leadership as “a style of leadership where a leader works with subordinates to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a group.”

Although there are a lot of different definitions of transformational leadership, it is generally accepted that there are at least a few subfactors to this competency. I tend to think of these three subfactors: (1) individualized consideration, (2) inspirational motivation, and (3) intellectual stimulation.

Below is a quick summary of these ideas and some leadership tips you can use to help on your leadership journey. 


1. Individualized Consideration

Understanding and considering the values, needs, and capabilities of each individual.

Leadership Tips: 

  • Individualized consideration isn’t about being “nice.” It’s about treating people as individuals. Ask yourself: what is the best way to motivate this person?  Everyone responds to feedback and goal-setting differently. Tailor your message to the individual to get the best results. They will appreciate it, and you will get the best out of them.
  • Ask each of the people who report to you who their favorite teacher and/or coach was. Ask why. What did that person do to motivate and inspire them?  That will tell you a lot about how those individuals respond. Do they need a firm hand or a gentle nudge? 
  • The next time you're assigned to a project, think about what parts of the project could be delegated to someone you supervise who has high potential. Make sure that it's a stretch assignment - it should be more challenging than projects they typically work on.


2. Inspirational Motivation

Motivating and inspiring others toward achieving results and common goals.

Leadership Tips:

  • When communicating to your team, try to frame ideas as bigger concepts. What are you trying to accomplish? Is it to be the best at something? Is it to improve in a particular area? Putting things in a broader framework creates a unifying directive for people. Don’t worry if it’s not about saving the world. Simply creating a sense of a goal that is larger than the task at hand is motivating to people.
  • Make it a habit of soliciting your team's input prior to making a decision. Make sure to let them know that you are interested in their perspectives so that you can make better decisions. Avoid sharing your ideas until after so that you do not influence their thinking or how they respond. Try to remain open to suggestions for change. Even if you do not think they will work, consider trying them out, especially if the risk is not that great.
  • Communicate with your team in a way that is not too terse or direct so that people feel comfortable asking questions.


 3. Intellectual Stimulation

Challenging assumptions, taking risks, and encouraging others to think independently.

Leadership Tips:

  • Force yourself not to solve problems for people, at least not every time. When presented with a problem, ask them what they think is the problem and how they would address it. If they don’t know, and it isn’t urgent or life-threatening, ask them to think about it and come back and talk to you tomorrow. It’s important to challenge people to think things through on their own.
  • Tailor what you delegate in a way that those who report to you are challenged to try something that is just at the edge of their reach. It will require them to push themselves. It's one of the best ways to foster development.

As we experience change in the workplace and labor climate, it’s important to develop leadership competencies that support teams and evolving organizational goals.

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Paul Glatzhofer Paul Glatzhofer is the VP of Talent Solutions based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI Services LLC. He works primarily with organizations that are implementing global assessment and development systems at the leadership level. Paul’s work includes leadership development, leadership skills training, coaching, leadership and executive selection, turnover and ROI analysis, and ongoing feedback development.