Seven Principles of Transformational Leadership

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Transformational leadership challenges followers to improve. James MacGregor Burns coined the term in a 1978 book in which he explained that transformational leaders tap into their followers' values, and inspire them to become more motivated and operate at a higher level. Theological writer Erik Rees later coined seven principles for transformational leadership.

Simplicity

  • Transformational leaders keep it simple. If you want to function as a transformational leader, you need a clear answer when someone asks what the organization's goals are. Ideally, your answer takes in more than just the immediate goals, and captures the vision of an entire big project.

Motivation

  • To transform your followers or employees, use your vision to motivate them. Show how what you ask of them meets their values and goals, and that what they do makes a real difference to whether you succeed or not.

Facilitation

  • If your subordinates don't know what they need to know, help them learn. If they don't have the skills they need, arrange training for them. To be a true transformational leader, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to accomplish their mission.

Innovation

  • The environment your organization works in may change in many ways. You have to be ready to change with it and so do your employees. The better they can cope with change, the more effective they'll be at accomplishing the company's goals.

Mobilization

  • Mobilizing your troops -- or volunteers or employees -- means deploying them with the confidence that they can get the job done. This, in turns, requires spotting the followers who have the skills you need and developing and training them so that they can make a real contribution to your organization and your mission.

Preparation

  • You, as the leader, have to be prepared for whatever challenges your organization faces. To be the best leader possible, you may have to transform yourself. Commit to constantly learn more and train yourself to become better than you are.

Determination

  • Leadership isn't always easy. Transformational leadership can be even harder because the goals are so much higher, which makes it easier to fall short, get depressed and doubtful and contemplate giving up. A true transformational leader needs to find the internal strength to keep going, no matter what.

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