Transformational Leadership - How to make your employees happier

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Transformational Leadership - How to make your employees happier

Transformational leadership is a modern management tool that is intended to lead to greater satisfaction and productivity among employees. In this process, the manager serves as a role model with his behavior and encourages his employees to copy his behavior. The manager also exemplifies the company's values and always strives to achieve the company's goals with their activities.

Transformational Leadership Definition

The term "transformational leadership" goes back to the Latin word "transformare" - to reshape, reshape. Under a transformational Leadership style is the implementation of successful principles in employee management. A transformational leadership style is able to make the individual employee feel intrinsically motivated for his or her work. Applied in teams, transformational leadership ensures efficient and successful work in an optimistic environment.

This leadership style is focused on long-term success and makes it easier for leaders to communicate the company's vision and key guiding principles to their employees. A transformational leader is the best example and role model for their employees. Through their lived role model function, they manage to influence the values and attitudes of their employees.

Transformational leadership is the brainchild of James McGregor Burns, a political scientist and historian. He taught leadership studies at Williams College and studied the leadership behavior of presidents. James McGregor Burns significantly influenced organizational research with his ideas on transactional leadership versus transformational leadership. While the former takes a short-term approach and focuses on immediate processes, the latter is long-term and visionary.

Four important criteria of transformational leadership

While McGregor was the forefather of transformational leadership, the business psychologist Bernard Morris Bass took his approaches further and worked out four important criteria for this leadership style. This is not a theoretical construct developed in an experimental laboratory, but the results from observation successful Manager.

Transformational leadership is based on these criteria:

1. role model function of the managers

The manager exemplifies the behavior he expects from his employees. They set the standards they expect from their employees. To do this, the manager needs a high level of Charisma and ethical as well as moral values. She is under constant observation, which entails her role as a leader.

It is important for the employees in the company to understand the motives of the manager. If staff suspect unethical behaviour or base motives, they themselves will not act in accordance with the company's values in the long term, but will try to assert their own advantages. Employees often also unconsciously imitate the behavior of the manager - this is part of our human nature.

2. inspiring motivation of employees

Transformational leadership motivates employees with the Inspirationwhich they receive from the leader. To this end, the leader formulates a vision from which specific goals for action are derived. Based on this, strategies are developed in teams to achieve these goals.

Gives a Team leader vision to his team, the team will find their work meaningful. Every task contributes to the achievement of an overarching goal and is therefore always important and meaningful. Employees understand why they do what they do every day and are thus also motivated to tackle challenges.

3. intellectual stimulation by the managers

Transformational leadership wants to encourage teams to discuss. The leader supports and encourages their team to discuss values, assumptions and expectations. Modern teams are flexible and not trapped in rigid structures. Nothing is set in stone forever and everything is allowed to be questioned and renewed. It is not the manager's job to present ideas for solutions. She merely collects the problems.

A transformational leadership style encourages employees to review ingrained behaviors or to question decisions. This is how change processes are shaped. The focus remains on the goal. What is important is that it is achieved, not how it is achieved. Unconventional approaches are also welcome. In this way, employees decide for themselves which strategy they would like to use, which promotes their independence.

4. individual support for employees

Employees should be able to develop and grow in their work. In order for this to succeed, the manager is the coach of his or her team. She supervises, accompanies and encourages her employees individually in their personal development, discovers development potential and advises on individual needs.

Every employee is unique and brings personal potential and Needs with. Transformational leadership ensures that all these individual aspects are seen and appreciated. Ideally, employees are given the work content that suits them. The manager takes into account their desire for autonomy and the manager their willingness to make decisions and Assume responsibility.

When does transformational leadership make sense?

Transformational leadership has found its ideal environmental conditions in the digitalized world. It is the perfect leadership style in a dynamic environment. Transformational leadership makes sense when the creativity and Personal responsibility of the employees are to be promoted. If a manager wants the team to trust him or her and to be more Self-efficacy the transformational leadership style is the right way to go.

When employees are asked about their experiences with transformational leadership, they indicate that they experience less stress on the job and a higher level of personal accountability to their company's purpose and vision - this comes from following study Out. The employees are happier and thus achieve better results in their work. Higher sales figures can also be attributed to successfully implemented transformational leadership.

Transformational leadership is particularly appropriate when you want to achieve change. Here, the focus is on people and their needs, but ultimately it is still about achieving a better innovation performance with more commitment and the Increase productivity.

Effects of transformational leadership

Transformational leadership has an effect on managers and employees alike. Employees become more productive, develop a better team spirit, work more creatively, are intrinsically motivated and more satisfied with their work. Leaders lead better Relationships with their employees, have more energy and less stress and increase their income. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved: in the end, the employees, the managers and the company itself are better off.

The most common challenges of transformational leadership

For transformational leadership to succeed, leaders should be able to focus exclusively on leadership. The more deeply they are involved in the operational business, the more difficult it is for them to lead transformationally. However, managers should be careful not to develop an inflated image of themselves. Feedback systems and monitoring instruments, as well as regular participation in personality development measures, coaching and training, prevent managers from drifting into narcissism.

Transformational leadership is based on the implementation of certain values. It becomes difficult when there is a wide gap between the values of managers and employees or between the values of the employees themselves. No one manages to change on command from one moment to the next. If there is no direct contact between those involved, this also has a negative effect on implementation.

Another challenge is to ensure both individual support for employees and transparent equal treatment. Not every employee can handle a high degree of work autonomy or bear personal responsibility. Finding the right mix of employee and task orientation is also more difficult in practice than in theory.

Finally, it is equally important that the company itself stands behind the transformational leadership style and that it is not the solo effort of a single manager. Ideally, the Management behind the concept and promotes its implementation in the company.

Things to consider when implementing transformational leadership

In order for transformational leadership to work in a company, a number of prerequisites must be met. For example, managers should have basic management skills. They must have a firm grasp of planning and control systems. Likewise, the leader must also be the "right type" for the job. They should have the appropriate personality and personal value orientation for the job.

Managers should also be able to develop and implement a business plan for their area of responsibility. In it, they should prove that they have comprehensive knowledge of their technologies, markets, competitors and customers. Their personal prerequisites must also be coherent. Managers should have the personal skills and values that match those of the company.

At the same time, managers must master entrepreneurial thinking and action in order to avoid wasting resources in the long run. They must perfectly master the above role model function and practice it daily and comprehensively in daily life. They should be able to influence effectively in any situation.

Transformational leadership brings employees more satisfaction

Transformational leadership vs. transactional leadership: what are the advantages?

Transactional leadership is the "classic" leadership as it has been practiced over the last few centuries. It essentially involves rewarding an employee's performance through money. Transactional leadership rewards desired behavior and punishes undesired behavior. It is an outdated model that is working less and less well in practice and is virtually inapplicable to younger generations.

Transactional leadership means working for a living without feeling much joy or meaning in what you do. Contrast this with the great companies of our time, which are among the most popular employers, such as Google, Apple or Amazon. They magically attract talented young talent and leaders - and they apply transformational leadership.

So transactional leadership essentially relies on rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. It is very important to adhere to norms and be disciplined. Values must not be questioned. In case of deviations from the plan, the manager intervenes in a corrective way, because the given strategy must be followed. It is undesirable to bring in own ideas or to go new ways.

A transformational leadership style is the exact opposite of this. Employees should contribute themselves. They should be creative, master challenges and grow personally. They should see meaning in their work, engage with the Corporate goals and the vision. Fun at work is expressly desired. The manager acts as a role model and employees have a relationship of trust with him or her.

How to learn to be a better leader

You are a leader yourself and want to lead your team in a modern and open way? If you want to apply a transformational leadership style, you act as a coach, trainer and supporter of your employees. So that you can act confidently in this role, there is the Greator Business Coach Training. By combining neuroscience and economics, you learn to develop potential in people that dwarfs anything you've ever seen before.

The training is ideal for you as a leader. But you can also benefit from it as a self-employed person or coach. You will learn business coaching skills that produce measurable and sustainable success. For this training, we have compiled the contents of renowned experts in this field, such as Dr. Frederik Hümmeke, Prof. Dr. Jack Nasher and much more. Dr. Hümmeke, renowned behavioral philosopher and neuroscientist, developed the method of this training together with us. The training is so effective because it combines the rational with the emotional to deliver visible results quickly.

As a leader, you have a tight schedule. So that it doesn't fail because of the deadline, the training is conveniently available online. This gives you maximum flexibility. You can work through the training at your own pace, while the modules are available to you around the clock. All training content is condensed to the maximum, so you don't waste time on the unnecessary, but you get all the important facts. At the end, you will receive a certificate confirming your new skills.


The leadership style of the future is transformational leadership. Modern people can no longer be forced to behave in a certain way through rewards and punishments, as was the approach of the outdated transactional leadership. It is much more effective when the leader acts as a role model and lives the company values in his or her behavior.

Employees are intrinsically motivated by such behavior and are individually supported and coached by their manager. As a result, employees achieve better results and approach challenges with joy because they understand the greater meaning behind their work. These people love their work and enjoy doing it, which in turn benefits the company. The company can look forward to increased productivity and more turnover.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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