Transformational leadership theory

Leadership with values, meaning and a higher purpose


Transformational leadership theory has evolved from and contains elements of preceding leadership types, such as trait and behaviour theories, charismatic, situational and transactional leadership.

Transformational leadership theory is about leadership that creates positive change in the followers whereby they take care of each other's interests and act in the interests of the group as a whole. In this leadership style, the leader enhances the motivation, moral and performance of his follower group.

transformational leadership theory,change management,change managers,change management training James MacGregor Burns first brought the concept of transformational leadership to prominence in his book Leadership [1978].

Originally this was in the context of his researches into political leadership, but this term is now used in organisational psychology as well. Macgregor drew the important distinction between transactional leadership and transformational leadership.





Compare Transactional & Transformational Leadership


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Transformational leadership theory transcends transactional leadership and rather than describing a set of specific behaviours, it outlines an ongoing process by which "leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation" [Leadership, p20].

Transformational leadership theory is about leadership with values and meaning, and a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order needs.



"Essentially the leader’s task is consciousness-raising on a wide plane. The leader’s fundamental act is to induce people to be aware or conscious of what they feel - to feel their true needs so strongly, to define their values so meaningfully, that they can be moved to purposeful action."

Macgregor [Leadership, pp 43-44]




The 4 Transformational leadership components


transformational leadership theory,change management,change managers,change management training

There are four leadership components of transformational leadership theory, which are:

(1) Charisma or idealised influence - the degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways and displays convictions and takes stands that cause followers to identify with the leader who has a clear set of values and acts as a role model for the followers.

(2) Inspirational motivation - the degree to which the leader articulates a vision that is appeals to and inspires the followers with optimism about future goals, and offers meaning for thecurrent tasks in hand.

(3) Intellectual stimulation - the degree to which the leader challenges assumptions, stimulates and encourages creativity in the followers - by providing a framework for followers to see how they connect [to the leader, the organisation, each other, and the goal] they can creatively overcome any obstacles in the way of the mission.

(4) Personal and individual attention - the degree to which the leader attends to each individual follower's needs and acts as a mentor or coach and gives respect to and appreciation of the individual's contribution to the team.transformational leadership theory,change management,change managers,change management training This fulfils and enhances each individual team members' need for self-fulfilment, and self-worth - and in so doing inspires followers to further achievement and growth.

Bernard M. Bass [1985], suggested a transformational leadership theory that added to Burn's original theory - the extent to which a leader is transformational, is measured:

(1) In terms of the leader's influence on the followers.

(2) The leader success in seeking new ways for working, while he tries to identify new opportunities and assess threats.

8 FREE Introductory Lessons from Practitioners Masterclass - HERE




Applying the theory


Transformational leadership theory is about leadership that creates positive change in the followers, whereby they take care of each other's interests and act in the interests of the group as a whole. Here, the leader enhances the motivation, morale and performance of his follower group.

This is more to do with “being” than “doing”. What you do, and how you do it will be largely determined by how you are as a person.

transformational leadership theory,change management,change managers,change management training These are addressed in the "Practitioners Masterclass" which takes a holistic view of the key areas and shows you how to put all this into practise.

To equip yourself, stay one step ahead with the tools and processes that will enable you to apply the theory - check out the Practitioners' Masterclass [or click on the image to the right].




Organisational change is inseparable from personal change


The inherent (and flawed) assumption in most training and work-related attempts at encouraging personal change (in support of organisational change) is that it is skills based, in other words we can be taught to change.

Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change.

We can't change because of our "immunity to change" or inner resistance.

Managing Personal Change - Resources HERE







James MacGregor Burns - Leadership with a higher purpose

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