We’ve all experienced poor leadership in some shape or form. Many of us have left otherwise fine jobs because of this problem. It’s not just about actively disengaged and disrespectful managers and higher-ups — many people simply lack the necessary skills to lead.
But if you want to inspire and motivate your employees instead of simply relying on your authority and their subservience, you need to become a transformational leader.
What Is Transformational Leadership?
One way to define transformational leadership is through its opposition to transactional leadership. The latter style is probably what you’re much more familiar with as this is still the predominant style leaders adopt — unfortunately.
Transactional leaders motivate their workforce through the system of punishment and rewards. This way, they manage to inspire hard work on a short-term basis, but this method is ultimately ineffective. Why? Because it relies on extrinsic motivation.
On the other hand, transformational leadership is all about awakening the deep-rooted, intrinsic motivation in your followers and helping them grow. As the name suggests, this style is bent on transforming your team by empowering each and every individual and caring about their needs.
This kind of leader works on building strong relationships with their followers, gaining their respect and admiration, and making them care about mutual goals. Their employees don’t feel like they’re on the grind or just trying to get the work done. They are motivated by their leader’s example to strive for making the common vision come true.
The Four I’s of Transformational Leadership
So far, this leadership style may seem a bit vague and abstract to you. How do you achieve the above-mentioned goals? It all boils down to the four major elements of transformational leadership, often referred to as the four I’s.
As a leader, you need to act as a role model and lead by example. You need to earn the respect and admiration of your employees by putting them first, and they will respond by emulating your ideals and behaviors.
This element is about achieving that intrinsic motivation in your followers. You need to know how to inspire them and get them to follow your vision for the organization wholeheartedly. You’ll be able to do so by believing in your vision and your followers.
Make no mistake — you’re no messiah, and your followers are not your flock. They are individuals with hopes, dreams, and motives, and you need to care for each employee’s growth and aspirations.
Ultimately, this style of leadership is also about allowing for a free flow of creativity and new ideas among your employees. It’s about involving them in decision-making and stimulating their creativity instead of stifling it.
Does Transformational Leadership Work?
- 67% of millennials (who are the majority of the workforce today) say that the mission of the organization is more important than the salary. Transformational leadership puts a strong emphasis on the common mission or goal, which comes from a place of strong ethics.
- 43% of employees feel much more motivated when they are appreciated. The cornerstone of this type of leadership is the appreciation of each individual employee and consistent care for their well-being and growth.
- 90% of employees are much more likely to stay at an organization that actively seeks and acts on feedback. As we’ve mentioned, transformational leaders involve their employees in the decision-making process. They work side-by-side with them rather than ordering them around.
- 39% of employees are more likely to be engaged if the leadership is engaged. So leading by example is one of the most effective methods of getting employees to care. So many people don’t even know who their bosses are, and that’s bad.
How Can You Become a Transformational Leader?
Being a great leader is no rocket science, really. If you truly care about your organization, you’re already halfway there. Here are some tips to nail that other half:
- Be authentic — This is the single most important piece of advice we can offer. People respond to other people being real around them. Trying to build a boss-like persona will only result in resentment from your workforce.
- Don’t micromanage your team — This leadership style comes from trust in your employees and their abilities. Trust that everyone is motivated and capable to do their share of work.
- Encourage cooperation — Make people feel like a team, not like each other’s competition.
- Explain the reasoning behind each action — They need to understand why they’re doing something instead of doing it because you said so.
Great leadership will not only improve your employee retention, but it will make your employees work as one toward achieving the common goal.