First introduced by James MacGregor Burns, transformational leadership is a type of supervision that encourages leaders and team members to work together in positive ways. By focusing on each relationship, these leaders are able to motivate people better, improve morale, and even turn around a sinking organization.
Transformational leaders don’t want to issue directives or force people into doing things that they don’t want to do. They inspire people to change because they shift the picture for each person. They show people that it’s not just about what a company can do for each worker. What each worker can do for their employer is also important.
All forms of leadership offer unique pros and cons which may affect the workplace. There are transformational leadership advantages and disadvantages to evaluate if you’re thinking about bringing in this type of person to your company.
List of the Advantages of Transformational Leadership
1. This type of leadership creates change, then manages it effectively.
When a company needs to evolve because markets are changing and adapting, transformational leadership is the best option to make things happen. These leaders excel in their ability to communicate needed improvements and changes to the rest of the team. They are early adopters of the changes made, which encourages everyone else to adjust as well. Everyone is able to reach their full potential when a transformational leader is effectively managing this issue.
2. There are fewer turnover costs each year.
Most people quit their bosses, not their jobs. The charisma provided by the transformational leader reduces the ill feelings that drive workers away. These leaders urge their teams to meet their personal needs at the same time they drive results for their employer. People who work in this type of circumstance often feel like they have a specific role to play in their company. That keeps them engaged with the processes being implemented.
3. Transformational leaders are unafraid of the fast decision.
This leadership style is always looking ahead to the future. They see where the mission and vision of a company are in the present, then set realistic goals for the future. These leaders recognize the problems which develop during each transition, which reduces down time while maintaining consistency. If an organization needs someone who can make fast decisions that push people forward, then they need someone who practices transformational leadership.
4. It is a leadership style which looks at each worker as a person.
Far too many leadership styles view people as a commodity instead of as an individual. The transformational leader is not one of those people. They bring out higher productivity levels from their teams because the focus on personal and professional motives. These leaders recognize the needs of each person, then seek out meaningful solutions that relieve the stress and anxiety which limits individual productivity. The approach is simple: do what is required to maximize personal motivation levels in each person.
5. There is an emphasis placed on continued education.
There are many leaders out there in the business world today that are bunkering themselves into their offices. They have obtained power, so now they are doing their best to keep it. The people who are a direct threat to their position are often their immediate direct reports. Transformational leaders aren’t afraid of such a challenge. They encourage it. Through an emphasis on continued education, these leaders want their people to succeed.
6. They reduce communication issues in the workplace.
If an organization is finding communication gaps, then the transformational leader will solve that problem quickly. The only way to encourage increased productivity levels, from the perspective of this style of leadership, is to maintain open lines of communication. This perspective creates a system of feedback which allows everyone around the leader to become more efficient and effective at what they do. It is a way for the transformational leader to keep everyone pointed toward the final goal or vision.
7. This leadership style eliminates issues that cause low morale.
Transformational leaders are often brought in when an organization has been struggling for some type. When people are unable to experience success, it sucks their enthusiasm and passion away very quickly. Instead of being creative workers, they become “warm bodies” that try to do the bare minimum to earn a paycheck. This leadership style uses their own passions to inspire those around them. They encourage change because they are willing to change themselves first.
8. They understand relationships better.
One of the primary goals of the transformational leader is to create a strong, supportive community from Day #1. When they demonstrate to their teams that relationships can be formed, the process can be extended to the customer base. Through these relationships, the leader can show others how loyalty, honesty, and integrity inspire a stronger brand message. This effort can repair broken connections, improve collaboration, and improve revenues because it inspires others to invest themselves into a relationship with the transformational leader.
9. Transformational leaders create immediate trust within the workplace.
People admire leadership who practice the transformational style because they encourage a sense of togetherness. They seek out the talents and skills of each person, then look for ways to maximize those assets. These leaders are unafraid to break the rules when necessary to do what is considered “right,” either for the organization or their team members. That willingness to “do what it takes” engenders a lot of trust and respect.
List of the Disadvantages of Transformational Leadership
1. The transformational leader must have an absolute belief in the vision.
Transformational leadership is effective when each leader has full confidence in what can be achieved. These leaders must not waiver when they are questioned about the effectiveness of their plan. When these leaders lose faith in themselves, their teams will lose faith in their company, their leadership, and sometimes even in themselves. Before implementing any type of change, a transformational leader must be 100% all-in about what it is they plan to do.
2. Transformational leaders can inspire negativity, just as they can inspire positivity.
From the 1920s to the 1940s, the Hitlerjugend, or “Hitler Youth,” was the youth organization of the Nazi Party. Beginning in 1933, it was the only youth organization in the country, with a focus on paramilitary elements. Boys and girls as young as 10 could join the program, which indoctrinated racism and Nazi ideology by corrupting activities from the Boy Scout movement. There are two ways to transform: positive and negative. Those who work with transformational leaders must be careful to avoid leaders that focus on negative changes.
3. Constant feedback is required for this leadership style to be effective.
For a transformational leader to be effective, they must give and receive feedback on a regular basis about their personal performance and how well their team is doing. Everyone must be kept in the communication loop so that everyone can see the levels of progress being made. If leaders don’t possess this skill, their ability to transform others will be reduced, which creates the possibility of future failure.
4. Transformational leaders can be disruptive to the workplace.
Leaders who practice the transformational style are less afraid to take risks. That can be a positive attribute, but it can also be a negative one. Some leaders will classify unacceptable risks as something that is acceptable to pursue. Although one must take risks to experience growth, there are some risks which create more opportunities for losses to occur instead of gains. If a leader is unable to recognize this fact, then they could lead their team toward destruction.
5. This leadership style results in high levels of burnout.
It requires a lot of energy to be a transformational leader. That charisma drives people toward success. It also requires the leader to take time for themselves to restore their energy. When these leaders are unable to step away, then optimism may turn toward pessimism over time. Leaders who experience burnout then rely more on their team, which creates a higher risk of widespread problems with this issue for the organization.
6. A transformational leader might focus primarily on the needs of the individual.
The transformational leadership style does an excellent job of identifying individual needs to improve productivity. That can sometimes create a situation where the needs of each person are not balanced with the needs of the organization. There are times when an issue applies to the entire team, but because the leader focuses on the individual instead, elements of progress can be missed.
These transformational leadership advantages and disadvantages show that corporate evolution is possible when it is present. They also show that this type of leader can be highly destructive, both intentionally and unintentionally. That is why morale and morality must be points of emphasis when bringing in people who specialize in this leadership style. Without a shared vision, people will lose faith over time, which reduces the opportunities for success.