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The qualities of transformational leadership Published: Sunday, January 16, 2011 8:00 am By: Ramón L. Rivera, President & CEO

          The conditions of modern organizations functioning require undertaking radical, transformational changes. Conceptualizing and implementing such changes requires new leadership skills and qualities, those of transformational leadership. In this article I intend to point out those attributes that distinguish organizational leaders capable of conducting their respective organizations through major disruptive change, based on our research and own experience working with hundreds of organizational leaders for over twenty (20) years.

         As an idea, transformational leadership was first mentioned in 1973, in the sociological study conducted by the author J. V. Downton, "Rebel Leadership: Commitment and Charisma in the revolutionary process". After that, James Mc Gregor used the term transformational leadership in his book "Leadership" (1978). In 1985, Barnard M. Bass presented a formal transformational leadership theory, which included the models and factors of leadership behaviour. One year latter (1986) Noel M. Tichy and Marry Anne Devanna published a book under the title "The Transformational Leader" (2). Research projects, and books in the field of transformational leadership have been published in recent years have contributed to the development of the most actual leaders' concept.

         The optimal profile of transformational leadership is characterized by the presence of certain qualities. They are the leaders' qualities contained in appropriate transformational abilities of leaders and in certain attributes which are assumptions for the use of leaders' skills and for successful performance of leadership roles. In their book Improving organizational effectiveness through transformational leadership B.M. Bass and B.J. Avolio, presented a classification of skills of transformational leaders in what is known as the "Four I's" model.  Following is a description of those four skill sets:

         Idealized influence: represents the ability of building confidence in the leader and appreciating the leader by the followers, which forms the basis for accepting radical change in organization. Without such confidence in the leader, that is, in his motives and aims, an attempt to redirect the organization may cause great resistance. You can "lead" people if you make them ready to engage. You will have to become a leader who possesses idealized influence and who represents "The Roles Model" to his followers. The leaders with idealized influence are honored, appreciated, they are trusted, the followers admire them, and they identify with them and try to imitate them. Such leaders, which represent the model roles to their followers, do "the right things", demonstrating high morale and ethical behavior. They do not use their position and abilities to achieve personal interests, but they use the potentials of people to achieve the aims of organizations.

         Inspirational motivation: is the ability of transformational leadership, to inspire and motivate people to adopt the appropriate behavior. In the conditions when transformational change is being conducted in an organization, the leader has the task of clearly and continuously stimulating others to follow a new idea. Transformational leaders should, therefore, behave in such a way, which motivates and inspires people. Such behavior includes implicitly showing enthusiasm and optimism, stimulating team work, pointing out positive results, advantages, emphasizing aims, stimulating followers, etc.

        Intellectual stimulation: as ability of transformational leaders has an important role in the transformation process of organizations. Transformational leaders stimulate permanent reexamination of the existent assumptions, stimulate change in the way of thinking about problems, plead the use of analogy and metaphor, etc. By constantly searching for new knowledge, transformational leaders constantly teach, illustrate, but also promote and get new and creative ideas for solving problems from all organizational members.

       Individualized consideration: inclusion of people into the transformation process of an organization implies the need to diagnose their wishes, needs, values and abilities in the right way. This type of activity leads to higher levels of trust in the leader. So, besides a global picture, a transformational leader must know what motivates any of his team members individually. Human wishes and needs are different. Some want certainty, some want excitement and change; some prefer money, and some free time. The leader, who is aware of the difference in needs and wishes of people, has an opportunity to use all those different demands in the right way. By their behavior, transformational leaders demonstrate acceptance of individual differences and assign the tasks in accordance with their personal affinities. Following the progress in performing the individual tasks, a leader gets a picture of regularity (or irregularity) of his own action of "individualized consideration".

            Transformational leaders are individuals who, through the use of their knowledge, imagination and ability to influence the behavior of people, make conditions for transforming organizational arrangements. The extent, to which a leader is transformational, is measured first, in terms of his influence on other organizational members. The people that work with such type of leaders feel trust, admiration, loyalty and respect for the leader and because of the qualities of the transformational leader are willing to work harder than originally expected. These outcomes occur because the transformational leader offers people something more than just working for self gain; they provide an inspiring mission and vision and give them an identity. The leader transforms and motivates followers through his or her idealized influence, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration. In addition, this leader encourages followers to come up with new and unique ways to challenge the status quo and to alter the environment.


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