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Transformational leadership enhances the motivation, morale, and job performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms. These include connecting the follower's sense of identity and self to the project and the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers that inspires them and makes them interested; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, so the leader can align followers with tasks that enhance their performance.
The concept of transformational leadership was initially introduced by leadership expert and presidential biographer James MacGregor Burns. According to Burns, transformational leadership can be seen when "leaders and followers make each other to advance to a higher level of morality and motivation." Through the strength of their vision and personality, transformational leaders are able to inspire followers to change expectations, perceptions, and motivations to work towards common goals.Unlike in the transactional approach, it is not based on a "give and take" relationship, but on the leader's personality, traits and ability to make a change through example, articulation of an energizing vision and challenging goals. Transforming leaders are idealized in the sense that they are a moral exemplar of working towards the benefit of the team, organization and/or community. Burns theorized that transforming and transactional leadership were mutually exclusive styles.Later, researcher Bernard M. Bass expanded upon Burns' original ideas to develop what is today referred to as Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory. According to Bass, transformational leadership can be defined based on the impact that it has on followers. Transformational leaders, Bass suggested, garner trust, respect, and admiration from their followers
Bernard M. Bass (1985), extended the work of Burns (1978) by explaining the psychological mechanisms that underlie transforming and transactional leadership. Bass introduced the term "transformational" in place of "transforming." Bass added to the initial concepts of Burns (1978) to help explain how transformational leadership could be measured, as well as how it impacts follower motivation and performance. The extent to which a leader is transformational, is measured first, in terms of his influence on the followers. The followers of such a leader 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 followers something more than just working for self gain; they provide followers with an inspiring mission and vision and give them an identity. The leader transforms and motivates followers through his or her idealized influence (earlier referred to as charisma), 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 to support being successful. Finally, in contrast to Burns, Bass suggested that leadership can simultaneously display both transformational and transactional leadership.
Now 30 years of research and a number of meta-analyses have shown that transformational and transactional leadership positively predicts a wide variety of performance outcomes including individual, group and organizational level variables.
The full range of leadership introduces four elements of transformational leadership:
Individualized Consideration – the degree to which the leader attends to each follower's needs, acts as a mentor or coach to the follower and listens to the follower's concerns and needs. The leader gives empathy and support, keeps communication open and places challenges before the followers. This also encompasses the need for respect and celebrates the individual contribution that each follower can make to the team. The followers have a will and aspirations for self-development and have intrinsic motivation for their tasks.
Intellectual Stimulation – Such leaders encourage their followers to be innovative and creative. They encourage new ideas from their followers and never criticize them publicly for the mistakes committed by them. The leaders focus on the “what” in problems and do not focus on the blaming part of it. They have no hesitation in discarding an old practice set by them if it is found ineffective.
Inspirational Motivation – the degree to which the leader articulates a vision that is appealing and inspiring to followers. Leaders with inspirational motivation challenge followers to leave their comfort zones, communicate optimism about future goals, and provide meaning for the task at hand. Followers need to have a strong sense of purpose if they are to be motivated to act. Purpose and meaning provide the energy that drives a group forward. The visionary aspects of leadership are supported by communication skills that make the vision understandable, precise, powerful and engaging. The followers are willing to invest more effort in their tasks, they are encouraged and optimistic about the future and believe in their abilities.
Idealized Influence – the degree to which the leader acts as a role model for their followers. Transformational leaders must embody the values that the followers should be learning and mimicking back to others. If the leader gives respect and encourages others to be better, those influenced will then go to others and repeat the positive behavior, passing on the leadership qualities for other followers to learn. This will earn the leader more respect and admiration from the followers, putting them at a higher level of influence and importance. The foundation of transformational leadership is the promotion of consistent vision, mission, and a set of values to the members. Their vision is so compelling that they know what they want from every interaction. Transformational leaders guide followers by providing them with a sense of meaning and challenge. They work enthusiastically and optimistically to foster the spirit of teamwork and commitment.
Each element is connected because there is a basis of respect, encouragement, and influence that is involved in transformational leadership. The personality of the leader has to be genuine because any chance of inconsistency for the followers and all trust is gone, and the leader has failed.
Earlier research on transformational leadership was limited, because the knowledge in this area was too primitive for finding good examples for the items in the questionnaire. Another weakness in the first version of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) related to the wording of items. Most items in the scale of charismatic leadership described the result of leadership, instead of specific actions of the leader that can be observed and that, in turn, lead to the results. In response to the critics, Bass and Avolio (1990) included in the revised and now subsequent versions many more items that describe leadership actions that are observed directly. They also split out attributions of leadership associated with Idealized Influence and behaviors and actions into two separate scales.
The current version of the MLQ Form 5X includes 36 items that are broken down into 9 scales with 4 items measuring each scale. Subsequent validation work by John Antonakis and his colleagues provided strong evidence supporting the validity and reliability of the MLQ5X. Indeed, Antonakis et al. (2003) confirmed the viability of the proposed nine-factor model MLQ model, using two very large samples (Study 1: N=3368; Study 2: N=6525). Although other researchers have still been critical of the MLQ model, since 2003 none has been able to provide dis-confirming evidence of the theorized nine-factor model with such large sample sizes at those published by Antonakis et al. (2003).
Implications for managers
Yukl (1994) draws some tips for transformational leadership:
Develop a challenging and attractive vision, together with the employees.
Tie the vision to a strategy for its achievement.
Develop the vision, specify and translate it to actions.
Express confidence, decisiveness and optimism about the vision and its implementation.
Realize the vision through small planned steps and small successes in the path for its full implementation.
ABSTRACT A perioperative nurse leader’s ability to effect positive change and inspire others to higher levels of achievement is related to his or her leadership style in the practice setting and the leadership style that is present across the organization. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet™ designation and redesignation process requires the demonstration of transformational leadership as one of the components of excellence. Transformational leadership can increase nurses’ job satisfaction and commitment to the organization and organizational culture. Engaging staff members in the transition to transformational leadership and developing a common mission, vision, and goals are keys to success in the surgical setting. Bass’s four interrelated leadership components—idealized inﬂuence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration—and associated behaviors were used by surgical services leaders in an East Coast, two-hospital system to successfully achieve redesignation as a Magnet facility.
Test if you are a Transformational Leader
Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D (2009) lists a few traits of a transformational leader to test individuals:
I would never require a follower to do something that I wouldn't do myself.
I have clear goals for my team.
I find it comes natural to inspire others.
I celebrate the talents and successes of my followers.
I am attentive when it comes to the personal needs of my followers.
I challenge my followers to get out of their comfort zones.
I believe that team work is the way to success.
I encourage my followers to question their most basic way of thinking. (Items 1 & 2 = II; 3 & 4 = IM; 5 & 6 = IC; 7 & 8 = IS)
Followers have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy are infectious.
^Bass, B. M,(1985), Leadership and Performance, N.Y. Free Press.
^Bass & Bass 2008, The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications" 4th edition Free Press
^Antonakis, J., Avolio, B. J., & Sivasubramaniam, N. (2003). Context and leadership: An examination of the nine-factor Full-Range Leadership Theory using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. The Leadership Quarterly, 14(3), 261-295.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1048-9843(03)00030-4
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