James McGregor Burns coined the concept of transformational leadership in his book, Leadership, in 1978. He defined it as a process where “leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.”
According to Bernard M. Bass, who further developed the concept in the 1980s, some qualities of a transformational leader are: clear goal setting, supportive of their followers, encouraging, and able to get their followers to look beyond their own self-interest. So, how do you become a transformational leader? Here are some steps:
Be inspiring in your vision.
If you want people to follow your lead, you’ll need to give them a legitimate and compelling reason. The best way to do this is to create an inspiring vision of days to come. This vision will set out your team’s purpose, which will be at the forefront of your endeavors. You can develop your vision by understanding the values of the people you lead, as well as the resources of your organization.
Motivate your team to deliver the vision.
As we’ve covered, you’ll need to appeal to people’s values in order to get them to buy into your mission. You’ll need to come up with a mission statement. Use storytelling as part of your call to action and speak of your mission often. Get to know your team – if you can further connect the mission directly to their own goals, they’ll be more likely to follow your lead.
Take the lead in delivery of the vision.
It doesn’t take much to come up with a vision and mission statement. The real hard work comes in delivering it and working to make it a reality. While you can get your team to help you, you’ll have to do much of the difficult and often mundane tasks yourself. To manage the delivery of your vision, you’ll need to incorporate both effective project and change management. Communicate each individual person’s roles clearly and connect your team to your plans. Everyone needs to understand what they’re responsible for and how their success will be measured.
Build strong relationships with your people.
Transformational leaders focus a lot of their attention on their people. You’ll need to work hard with them to help them achieve their goals, as well as the goals of the team. Meet with them individually and support them throughout their endeavors. Provide constructive feedback when necessary and be empathetic at all times. Your team will be better off for it.
Being a transformational leader requires a lot of hard work and understanding of how people operate. Once you’ve come up with an inspiring and uniting vision, people will be more inclined to follow your lead. Be sure to lead by example and maintain excellent self-discipline and stamina so that you don’t let yourself or your team down. In the end, if you put in the hard work and set a good example for your people, you will be more likely to find success.