Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership



Transformational Leadership

Various theories of leadership and consequent instruments of leadership styles have been supported by researchers. Nonetheless, from the 1980s, most studies that focused on understanding the implications of leadership styles on the organizational setting have inclined towards transformational leadership and the plausibility of its positive impact on the workforce. Interestingly, the implementation of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire as a data gathering approach in most of these studies facilitated the inclination towards the respective style of leadership in question based on its ability to gauge components advocated for by Bernard M. Bass, who was responsible for extending the research on transformational leadership originally introduced by James MacGregor Burns. Contemporarily, transformational leadership has become rather popular, especially in part due to organizations’ predisposition towards post-bureaucratic sentiments and deviation from the application of transactional leadership. Even though transformational leadership has been correlated to positive results in comparison to other styles, further research on the subject is necessary in order to enhance the comprehension and development of leadership.   

What is Transformational Leadership?

Generally, transformational leadership may be established as a style of leadership that imposes change in persons as well as social structures. Ideally, the concept in question develops important and constructive change within followers in an organizational context with the key aim being the implementation of transition from followership to leadership (Bass, 1990). Applied in its genuine structure, the style of leadership augments the motivation, self-confidence, and overall performance of the followers via an array of mechanisms. In this respect, transformational leadership is a superior performance of leadership that takes place when leaders expand and raise the employees’ interests, derive recognition and approval of the objectives and sole aim of the entire group, and influence followers towards the assertion of a selfless attitude that reflects the group rather than the individual (Howell & Avolio, 1993). Additionally, understanding the concept of transformational leadership involves denoting the characteristics and qualities that leaders exhibit when applying it in different organizational settings. According to Bass (1990), persons deemed as transformational leaders are capable of achieving results by employing charisma, which influences motivation and morale among their employees, gratifying the employees’ needs, and intellectually stimulating the workers. Extensive focus on the enforcement of intrinsic motivation and increase in utility eventually imposes positive outcomes such as an increase in creativity and innovation in organizations (Jung, Chow, & Wu, 2003). Hence, from these illustration, transformational leadership constitutes a style of leadership comprises of specific factors, which involve charisma, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation applicable within the setting of an organization.

The Nature of This Line of Research

Research concerning transformational leadership has been largely based on comparisons drawn with other styles of leadership, specifically transactional leadership. For example, the latter form possesses different characteristics from the former, which further sets up a qualitative platform that can be implemented in this line of research. Over the years, the nature of research on transformational leadership has consistently been qualitative as evidenced by the implementation of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Howell & Avolio, 1993). Interestingly, in order to conduct research on the respective subject, the MLQ has always been implemented in an effort to understand the disparities between transactional and transformational leadership. Such differences eventually provide an effective and well-informed understanding of the transformational style of leadership and its ease of applicability. Apart from the qualitative approach of the MLQ, research on transformational leadership is further based on the implications it poses within an organizational context as far as the evident relationship between the leader and the follower (Shung & Zhou, 2003). Bass’ studies on transformational leadership concluded that the style in question is comprised of four elements, which comprise idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation (Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006). The application of these dimensions in research provides studies with the ability to establish relationships between transformational leadership and other plausible non-quantitative factors such as job behaviors and organizational innovation (Jung, Chow, & Wu, 2003; Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006).

Antecedents and Consequences of Transformational Leadership

Over the last three decades, transformational leadership has been approved recurrently as an extremely effective style of leadership (Bass, 1990; Howell & Avolio, 1993; Jung, Chow, & Wu, 2003). Despite this, the antecedents regarding the respective concept have been assessed sparsely since the articulation and research of transformational leadership in the early 1980s. However, the few studies performed regarding the leadership style in question have exhibited dependence on a variety of antecedents that manage to illustrate the effectiveness of the transformational style in organizational contexts. In fact, one of the antecedents of transformational leadership constitutes motivation. The intrinsic motivation of leaders and followers has been correlated significantly to transformational behaviors (Bass, 1990; Jung, Chow, & Wu, 2003; Shung & Zhou, 2003). Additionally, the respective dimension has exhibited considerable correlations with the dimensions of transformational leadership, especially inspirational motivation (Bass, 1990; Jung, Chow, & Wu, 2003; Shung & Zhou, 2003). Collectively, these outcomes illustrate the existence of numerous significant associations between leader motivation and the implementation of transformational leadership. Consequently, the effects of transformational leadership have been related to specific outcomes within an organizational context. Consequences such as job behavior and performance, innovation and creativity, intrinsic motivation among employees or followers, and follower satisfaction have been attributable to research based on understanding the implications of transformational leadership (Bass, 1990; Howell & Avolio, 1993; Jung, Chow, & Wu, 2003; Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006).

Research on Transformational Leadership

Research on transformational leadership should be conducted in order to gain a further and more informed understanding of its implications on the dynamic working environment. Even though studies on the respective subject have covered significant ground, other areas require more research regarding the style in question. More specifically, studies on transformational leadership illustrate the study’s positive implications on antecedents such as performance and motivation especially among followers (Bass, 1990; Jung, Chow, & Wu, 2003). Despite this, it is evident that the respective research does not particularly answer specific questions related to the organizational context (Kark, Chen, & Shamir, 2003). Foremost, sparse research has been conducted on the procedures that transformational leadership applies in order to impose influence on employees (Kark, Chen, & Shamir, 2003). Consequently, there is null information based on the implications that arise from the processes applied as an outcome of implementing transformational leadership (Kark, Chen, & Shamir, 2003). Using such illustrations, further research on transformational leadership is required in order to gain more understanding on the style’s implications on different areas of the complex organizational setting.


To this end, research on transformational leadership performed over the last three decades has provided significant information regarding the effects of the respective style on aspects of the organizational context. Based on its application of idealized influence, individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation, transformational leadership has evidently imposed positive outcomes associated with factors such as job performance, intrinsic motivation, satisfaction, and innovation within organizations. However, while transformational leadership seems to impose positive results as supported by a considerable number of studies, further research remains imperative in relation to new areas that consistently arise within the organizational setting as an outcome of the dynamic business environment.


Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership – learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(3), 19-31.

Howell, J. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1993). Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, locus of control, and support for innovation – key predictors of consolidated business-unit performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(6), 891-902.

Jung, D. I., Chow, C., & Wu, A. (2003). The role of transformational leadership in enhancing organizational innovation: Hypotheses and some preliminary findings. Leadership Quarterly, 14(4-5), 525-544.

Kark, R., Shamir, B., & Chen, G. (2003). The two faces of transformational leadership: Empowerment and dependency. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 246-255.

Piccolo, R. F., & Colquitt, J. A. (2006). Transformational leadership and job behaviors: The mediating role of core job characteristics. Academy of Management Journal, 49(2), 327-340.

Shung, J. S., & Zhou, J. (2003). Transformational leadership, conservation, and creativity: Evidence from Korea. Academy of Management Journal, 46(6), 703-714.

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