Inspire Employees to Go Above and Beyond With Transformational Leadership


At its most basic level, leadership is all about getting people (followers) to move in the direction you indicate in pursuit of shared goals and objectives. That seems pretty straightforward but it is anything but!

At its most advanced level, leadership is all about being transformational. 

Transformational leadership is designed to motivate and inspire employees to meet shared outcomes—not because they have to, but because they want to.

Transformation leaders go above and beyond the basics of leadership or simply telling others what to do. Sure employees might follow, but they may not really want to. Consequently, their efforts are lackadaisical at best—at worst, their efforts may be unproductive and lack a level of quality or attention to detail required to meet customer needs and productivity goals effectively.

Leaders who can inspire employees to go above and beyond will achieve the results they, and the organization, are looking for. Results that will drive high performance, engagement, longevity, and positive word of mouth. 

These are transformational leaders—the kind of leaders that have a high level of awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership.

They’re the leaders that help to grow and shape the future of the company.

What is Transformational Leadership? 

Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that encourages, motivates, and inspires others. These leaders have a positive impact on employees and the organization as a whole. They establish a shared purpose and vision and provide direction—and inspiration—to help employees achieve the vision. 

Transformational leaders inspire others to put forth more than the basic level of effort required. They lead in such a way that employees look forward to coming to work, look forward to contributing, and are confident that their personal efforts are contributing to the success of the organization as a whole.

quote about transformational leaders

While there is plenty of healthy debate about whether leaders are born or bred—through leadership training—the truth is that leadership training can help even the most skilled, and transformational, leaders become even more effective. And, of course, for leaders without the background and experience to provide a transformational climate for employees, leadership training is a must-have.  

Importantly, transformational leaders do not have to be in a formal leadership role or have a formal title. Again, transformational leaders inspire employees to provide more discretionary effort because they want to, not because they have to. 

quotes on how transformational leaders inspire employees

Consequently, any employee can be a transformational leader. They simply need to be able to inspire others to positive and productive action often through their own actions.  

Transformational leaders’ efforts result in empowerment, innovation, and independent initiative that drive organizational success.

Characteristics of a Transformational Leader 

Transformational leaders share certain characteristics that make them stand out from others. They are:
list of characteristics of a transformational leader

Visionary 

They are able to see and articulate a vision of where they want their followers, and the organization, to go. Often that can be a very lofty, and quite challenging, vision.

Through their leadership employees are energized to achieve the vision regardless of how challenging it may seem.

Inspiring 

Transformational leaders inspire others to positive action. This often occurs through the example they set through their own actions and behaviors.

They walk the talk; they clearly articulate to others how the desired outcomes will provide value not only to the organization and its customers or clients—but to employees as well.

Passionate 

They exude energy and passion for the vision they have established.

It is clear to their followers that they are committed to achieving goals and objectives and, importantly, that they believe those goals and objectives are relevant and important for business success and positive brand—and even societal—impact.

Energetic and enthusiastic 

Transformational leaders inspire others on an ongoing basis through their observable commitment to productively achieving organizational goals and objectives.

Emotionally intelligent 

They exhibit all of the traits and characteristics of emotional intelligence, including the ability to identify and manage their own and others’ behaviors inappropriate ways.

Emotional intelligence also requires the ability to communicate effectively—including the ability to listen actively and provide feedback, both positive and constructive.

Team players 

To lead others to a shared goal, transformational leaders know that they must be strong team players—they position themselves not as “the boss” but as a member of the team, all working together to achieve shared outcomes.

Trustworthy 

Transformational leaders lead by example; they know that their own behaviors will be modeled by others. They are transparent and do what they say they will do.

Authentic 

Transformational leaders know that it isn’t just what they say that will have a positive impact on employees, but what they do. They are authentic in both communication and action.  

Applying a Transformational Approach at Work 

There are a number of observable behaviors that transformational leaders exhibit as they interact with, and encourage, others to achieve organizational goals and objectives.

To inspire engagement, innovation, and productive output among their team members, transformational leaders use empathy and are charismatic and motivational in their interactions.

They inspire others by identifying core values and establishing a culture that supports and encourages team members through clear and frequent communication.

Transformational leaders nurture a culture that encourages innovation and creative freedom among employees. When necessary, transformational leaders are able to get the most out of difficult situations—they have a “glass half full” attitude and outlook and embrace change.  

quote on transformational leaders making the most out of difficult situations

Developing Transformational Leaders

That’s an attainable vision that can be accomplished through the right kind of leadership training—the kind that Business Training Experts offers. Leaders are born and made. Make sure you pave the way for transformational leadership by providing current and potential leaders with the information and experiences they need to become transformational leaders.

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Categories: Communication, Leadership
Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Author: Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Lin is a business journalist and communication strategist with expertise in HR and employee relations. She is accredited through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP) and Human Resource Certification Institute (SPHR) and writes frequently for SHRM, HR Daily Advisor, and a wide range of trade publications and corporate clients.