What is Transformational Leadership?

Definition: Transformational leadership is a leadership style that focuses on inspiring and developing people to encourage them to work towards a vision. The leader is more focused on people reaching their full potential than in what needs to be done.

What Does Transformational Leadership Mean?

The concept of transformational leadership was brought up by James Burns in his 1978 book called “Leadership”. He defined the concept as a dynamic where leaders and follower raised each other to higher levels of morality and motivation.

A few years later, Bernard Bass, developed the concept further through a book called “Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations” and he identified four pillars of transformational leadership, those being: idealized influence, which deals with the leader being an influencer and a role model; secondly, inspirational motivation, which is the leader’s capacity to inspire his followers to follow his vision through highly-developed communication skills; thirdly, intellectual stimulation, explained as the leader’s ability to appreciate and encourage ideas coming from his followers, involving them in the decision-making process to make them feel important to the vision.

Finally, individualized consideration, is an ongoing process where the leader identifies what motivates each of his followers in order to understand how to design adequate incentives for each of them.


Mike is the Chief Executive Officer of a waste recycling company that was founded by his dad. After his dad passed away he took charge of the company’s operations and since the company is very big he needs to deal primarily with his management staff. He wants to make sure his leadership style can be communicated well enough through the entire organization.

In order to do so, he adopted a transformational leadership style. He is committed to implement a culture of inspiration and individual growth and he needs to communicate that to his closest staff to equip them properly for the whole organization to follow his steps. He is sure that this will take the company to new heights by including everyone’s best into the mix.