What Is a Transformational Leader? 3 Things To Know

By XINNIX | April 17, 2023 | Leadership

The modern business landscape requires specific traits to lead teams to success, and many organizations are lacking those traits.

While certain leadership styles, such as transactional leadership, are common, the style that has produced the best results and is needed now more than ever is the transformational style. An example of a transformational leader is one that aims to inspire, motivate and elevate themselves and those around them. This style of leadership evolves the entire team, not just the leader.

So what is a transformational leader, how does it change sales teams, and why should you implement it into your team?

What Is a Transformational Leadership Style?

Transformational leadership is both a business model and an evolution of the traditional leadership role. This style inspires those around them to go above and beyond in their work without the need for a reward. This is quite different compared to a transactional leader who uses external factors, like rewards or incentives, to motivate their team. A leader of this style:

  • Appeals to intrinsic motivators that are unique to each individual on their sales team.
  • Articulates the value behind the organization’s goals and vision.
  • Is unafraid to upend traditional methods if it means finding a better way to lead and succeed.
  • Always stays ahead of the competition through innovation.

Transformational Leadership Is Not a Popularity Contest, It’s a Get-It-Done-Contest

Organizational change can be jarring, and without context or value, teams may be hesitant to adopt a change of leadership style. With a leadership style focused on transformation, people may not initially agree with the changes. However, since this style prioritizes direct communication, ambition to get things done and intrinsic motivation, many begin to see its benefits quickly in the workplace. After all, a leader of this style isn’t preoccupied with popularity, they’re focused on success for themselves and those around them.

Most teams would rather work with a decisive and bold leader than one who’s hesitant and doesn’t communicate with them often or directly. Furthermore, they typically respect these types of leaders. When they realize leadership isn’t about governing over the workplace with an iron fist and more about motivating others to maximize their potential, they’ll see their own value reflected and understand where they fit in the vision of the company.

Characteristics of a Transformational Leader

There are three core characteristics that outline an example of a transformational leader.

Transformational leaders emphasize a team culture of personal and professional  growth. Find out more.

1. They Find Opportunities Through Risks

Some of the greatest revolutionaries and pioneers in history were leaders of transformation. How? They had immense courage and ambition and used those two qualities to take extraordinary risks that changed the course of history. 

These leaders aren’t afraid of failure. Once they establish a vision, they work tirelessly to reach that vision, and they elevate everyone who’s on board with them. This doesn’t mean everyone will buy into the vision; they don’t focus on those who scoff at their vision, they focus on their team. A supportive team that backs the risk-taking nature of these revolutionaries understands those risks can become game-changing opportunities that will lead to the most success.

2. They Are Resilient

Because failure is an inevitable part of success, transformational leaders need thick skin to dust themselves off and get back on their feet to keep looking for risks worth taking and opportunities worth fighting for.

The resiliency of these leaders helps them find ways to overcome and adapt to see their vision through. They are not satisfied until they have led the company or their team to the desired outcome. And along the way, as challenges and trials emerge, there will be naysayers, dissension among the ranks and maybe even a few deserters. A leader focused on transformation considers these consequences but stays focused on the job at hand, not worrying about the popularity contest. In fact, the resiliency of a leader speaks for itself and sets the standard for the rest of the team, inspiring them to become strong in times of adversity and support one another.

3. They Adapt to Adversity

Resiliency and ambition aren’t enough for someone to be considered transformational — they need the knowledge and tools to succeed, and they need to know where to find them. These leaders are, therefore, innovative and are always looking within their industry for new tactics, techniques or strategies to implement within their team.

This willingness to be innovative and adaptable is critical to being a successful leader, let alone a transformational one. The world continues to change, and it always will. As leaders, we either need to adapt and change, or we will find ourselves on the outside looking in as another person emerges to take our place.

Start Your Path to Transformational Leadership

Transactional leadership follows a philosophy of establishing specific goals and managing employees by rewarding success and correcting failure with penalties.

Download the Transformational Leadership Educational Guide to see how you can transform your leadership style and team.


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