How to Use Transformational Leadership

You can adapt transformational leadership ideas in many situations.
You can adapt transformational leadership ideas in many situations. (Image: Images)

Transformational leadership is a theory based on the work of James Burns. Whether you are a business leader, a school administrator or head of your household, you can incorporate elements of this leadership style to support positive change. Follow the four I's of transformational leadership theory: individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized Influence.

Consider the individuals you lead. Invite those who sometimes are left out or opt out of the change process to be involved. Include them on a committee or team, ask for their opinions and concerns and listen to their ideas. Get to know people's talents and strengths, and place people where they can shine, including in informal or temporary leadership roles.

Encourage intellectual stimulation. Share cutting-edge information with your followers. Buy books to stimulate new ways of thinking, and put them in a public area to be borrowed and used. Ask people to present their creative ideas. Invite speakers and send people to training or conferences to gather new ideas. Keep everyone learning and creatively sparked.

Motivate the people you lead. Get everyone focused on the same goals, and explicitly spell out your high expectations for everyone. Revisit these things often at meetings. Write about the organization's progress in a newsletter. Post steps accomplished on the way to achieving the goals. Let people know you think they can do it, and recognize efforts and progress.

Use your influence. Model the attitudes and behaviors you want to see in others. Do the things you want others to do. Make the most ethical decisions possible, and follow the Golden Rule. Embrace purposeful change, and change for the better every day. The transformational leadership theory is idealistic, but that kind of attitude can be contagious. You can bring about change with positive reinforcement.

Tips & Warnings

  • Transformational leadership is a leadership theory based on the work of James Burns. Other theorists who have written about it include Bass, Aviolo, and Leithwood.
  • Leadership skill development takes patience and resiliency. Learn more by finding leadership development training that can teach you more about facilitating the change process.

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