Four Traits a Transformational Leader Needs

I get two questions all the time, “What is transformational leadership?” and the accompanying follow up question is, “How do I become a transformational leader?”  Transformational leaders work in a way far more subtle than their traditional authoritarian counterparts.  Instead of giving orders, it’s a style that leads to positive changes to those who follow.

Transformational leaders are generally energetic, enthusiastic and passionate. Not only are these leaders concerned and involved in the process; they are also focused on helping every member of the group succeed as well.

Four Traits a Transformational Leader Needs:


A transformational leader encourages creativity and innovation among their team.  They are constantly challenging or pushing them to “wrestle” with the project, to get them to achieve a higher level of performance.  It’s important to encourage your team to question the most basic way of thinking, to get the results you want.


Another aspect of transformational leadership is the ability to foster healthy, supportive relationships with your team.  This includes keeping the lines of communication open, so that your team feels the freedom to share ideas.  When team members feel there’s a freedom to discuss ideas openly, it brings out the very best of the group.  Greater team-cohesion is created by being attentive to your direct reports needs and concerns.


Vision casting is a key element in becoming a transformational leader.  With proper vision casting, the leader is able to inspire and motivate their followers to fulfill the goals of the team and the organization with ease.  It’s imperative that you continue to help your team see the horizon and stay focused on the end result.


Being a role model is the most important aspect of being a transformational leader.  If your team doesn’t look to you for leadership, then there will be a severe breakdown in your group’s effectiveness.  One way to be a role-model is to walk the talk; your direct reports will follow a leader they trust and respect.  People are looking for a leader they can rally behind and in turn will do what it takes to get the project done.

Why does Transformational Leadership Work

Transformational leaders hold positive expectations for their team and believe the best in them; as a result, they inspire, empower, and stimulate followers to exceed normal levels of performance. In addition, these leaders focus on their direct reports personal needs and development to achieve organizational success.


4 thoughts on “Four Traits a Transformational Leader Needs

  1. Billy,

    Thanks for crystallizing the important topic of transformational leadership. I’ve delved into your blog and found it very insightful. Quick question: Is “transformative leadership” the same as “transformational leadership”? The academic literature is a bit silent on that distinction, so it’s always good to hear from an expert.

    Thank you,

  2. That’s a great question! For the most part the terminology of can be used interchangeably; however when we are speaking in an academic realm, there are a few nuances. Transformative leadership is the practical leadership application of the transformative learning theory. The transformative learning theory is more or less a course of action of with a perspective of transformation, with three unique dimensions to it. The first is: behavioral, which refers to changes in lifestyle, the second is psychological which are changes in understanding of the individual self, and the last dimension is the convictional or a revision of belief systems. Now transformative leadership speaks to leadership with these three perspectives in mind. Essentially transformative leadership speaks to change an individual’s frame of reference by having them critically reflecting on their assumptions and beliefs while purposely implementing plans that bring about new ways of defining your specific worldview. Now where transformational leadership comes into play is that it’s an offshoot of transformative leadership, because it focuses on a specific branch of transformative leadership, which ultimately is a part of the transformative leadership theory. However, the specific differences I’m referring too are so small that most people use it interchangeably, but in a pure academic setting it’s important to know that there are a few nuance differences and that transformative leadership is the over-arch umbrella and transformational leadership is a branch of it (but most people don’t really know that). I enjoy the academic questions, I really believe life transformation comes by the renewing of the mind.

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