Research at companies has shown that this type of leadership does bring improvements.
The concept of transformational leadership was first suggested by James V. Downton in 1973, and was expanded by James Burns in 1978. The concept as a model was developed by Bernard M. Bass in 1985.
The pandemic has shown how important it is for companies to change and adapt to new environments. Easy though this may sound, the process can be complicated and challenging because it involves rethinking the business model, says Dr. José Manuel Maraboto, director of the Department of Strategy and Leadership of the EGADE Business School at the Tec de Monterrey.
He goes on to explain that complete organizational transformation is required for companies to participate in the digital economy and to achieve this, leaders are needed who encourage, inspire and motivate their employees to innovate and bring changes that will help them grow and shape the success of the organization in the future.
“We have lived in a volatile, complex, ambiguous environment that requires this transformational leadership style, but the drastic, abrupt change brought about by the pandemic is forcing us to change immediately,” says Maraboto.
The profile of a transformational leader must satisfy four criteria described by Roberto Rojero Jiménez, a full-time professor in the Department of Economic-Administrative Sciences of the Technological Institute of Durango:
What we know as charisma. Leaders are people we admire and follow because of their positive characteristics because we see something almost mystical in them that other leaders don’t have. They have that special something that makes us want to be like them and we even tend to mimic them and behave like them.
This kind of leader proposes ideas to workers and encourages them to be creative, find new ways of solving problems, and create environments characterized by tolerance and sharing. This encourages and challenges them to be better.
This has to do with how much leaders care about the needs of their subordinates: whether they have a decent job with adequate benefits, have family problems and need time off to care for them, or require flexibility for eventualities such as the pandemic that allows them to work from home.
Motivating by drawing from aspects of the organization itself that make you want to go that extra mile. For example, drwing from the values of the company and its competitive advantages to motivate employees to achieve their goals and objectives.
There are people who are born with talents like charisma and communication skills, but it takes more than that to be a leader.
Édgar Rojas, national director of RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) at Adecco, indicates that good leaders should demonstrate “willingness, knowledge, and capability. They should want to be a leader, know how to be one, and have the ability to do so. Skills can be developed from there.”
They could be innate leaders but not necessarily company heads; the expert says that these people could be colleagues, immediate superiors, or colleagues from other corporate areas.
Their overriding quality should be the ability to provide intellectual stimulation and, inspiration, and exert a positive influence on others who, as a result, want to be by their side and learn from them.
Rojas’s experience at Adecco, a company dedicated to recruiting personnel, has revealed a demand for transformational leaders in Mexican companies. A variety of strategies are used to evaluate a person’s leadership potential and ability to devise and implement strategic plans, among other skills.
Mentoring programs are put in place in companies.
“Nowadays, global recruitment firms place importance on finding someone with a good heart and, improbable though it may seem, it’s true that a person with a good heart has values. Recruiters look beyond the required skills and search for principles that are compatible with those of the company.”
José Manuel Maraboto points out that leaders are largely made, rather than being born with traits such as authenticity, transparency, and a code of values to live by.
Maraboto says that a transformational leader is far more than a mere administrator, who is clearly focused on results (goals, sales, processes) or a transactional leader, who demands results from employees.
“Sometimes there is confusion with charismatic leadership, and yes, one quality that transformational leaders have is charisma: a characteristic that makes us want to follow a certain person, but it’s more that that because that person fosters motivation and positive employee development.”
One of the characteristics of transformational leaders is that they are people who recognize talent in others and help them make the most of their abilities in line with the company’s vision of the future.
According to Maraboto, who has a doctorate in Business and Business Management with a specialty in Small and Medium Enterprises, Entrepreneurship and Family Business from the University of Cantabria in Santander, “transformational leaders lay the foundations for a team of talented and highly-committed collaborators who will make the changes the organization requires possible.
In essence, transformational leadership implies worker transformation; leaders are charged with shaping and training their workers to become tomorrow’s company leaders.
Rojero Jiménez, who conducts research on types of leadership, comments that sampling done in small and medium-sized companies in the city of Durango revealed that transformational leadership will definitely bring improvements.