The how of transformational leadership

Mostafa Sayyadi looks at the importance of transformational leadership and some ideas for implementation.

Leadership has always been at the forefront management training. French mining engineer Henri Fayol has been posited as the forefather of the functions of management. In his original French publication, translated into English in the 1930s, he had 14 which he reduced to five primary principles: planning, organising, commanding, co-ordinating and controlling.

Today’s experts have reduced these further to: planning, organising, leading, and controlling.

Leadership, being a strong component of management has manifested itself into the forefront of many executives and aspiring leaders. Today, the question remains, can leaders be made or do they have to be born leaders to be successful?

Before attempting to answer this question, let us agree that leaders can be made and that being a born leader may be an additional attribute of leadership.

Transformational leadership has been highlighted as the behaviour indicative of friendship, mutual trust, respect, and warmth. While James MacGregor Burns initially developed transformational leadership, this concept has been further developed by scholars and will continue to evolve.

Transformational leadership produces results in organisations; influencing employees’ individual interests to align with institutional interests

The key to transformational leadership is based upon satisfying basic needs and verbalising feelings of admiration, respect and trust to meet higher aspirations by inspiring followers to provide newer solutions and create a better workplace. 

There are critics of this leadership style, but transformational leadership produces results in organisations; influencing employees’ individual interests to align with institutional interests, and through inspiring followers to create new ideas and innovation for effective business outcomes.

In fact, a transformational leader treats human capital as an individual quality and becomes a role model who is trusted, admired and respected by followers. 

Executives can be made into leaders and leaders can become better at what they do by using the four techniques of transformational leadership. These four techniques include: 

  • Idealised influence
  • Individualised consideration
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Inspirational motivation.

Executives can use idealised influence when aiming to develop a shared vision and improve relationships with followers. Executives need to instil pride in organisational members for being associated with them, display a sense of power and confidence, and go beyond self-interest for the good of the organisation. 

They should talk about their most important values and beliefs, consider the moral and ethical consequences of decisions and emphasise the importance of having a collective sense of mission.

Leaders can use individualised consideration to concentrate on identifying employees’ individual needs and empower followers to build a learning climate. To mobilise follower support and trust toward the goals and objectives at the senior organisational level.

In doing this technique, leaders need to spend time coaching others, consider the different needs, abilities, and aspirations of employees and help organisational members develop their strengths, and provide various formal training programmes to improve performance.

Intellectual stimulation should be used propel knowledge sharing in the company to generate more innovative ideas and solutions for new and demanding issues that come up constantly in our hypercompetitive economic environment.

Executives need to emphasis effective coordination among different functional areas, and seek differing perspectives when solving problems. They can suggest new ways of looking at how to complete assignments, and undertake a comprehensive analysis when confronted with an important decision.

Use inspirational motivation to focus on inspiring people – do not just treat them as human assets. This sets a higher level of desired expectations for them. To do this executives need to talk optimistically about the future and about what needs to be accomplished. Always expressing confidence that the goals will be achieved.

These four techniques of transformational leadership, when carried out correctly, can present a set of practices for effective leadership. These techniques show how an effective leader working in today’s knowledge-based economy can develop and manage intellectual capital in organisations.


About the author

Mostafa Sayyadi is a business and technology journalist.



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