By: Mostafa Sayyadi
The true basis of leadership is built upon a model generated by an X and Y axis. One side is the concept of leadership that creates change through a process-oriented approach, and the other as more of a relationship-oriented one.
While transactional leadership involves determining tasks, rewarding goal achievement, and punishing failure in attaining goals, transformational leadership focuses on the critical human assets such as commitment, and thus helps followers to implement organizational changes with both efficiency and effectiveness. Just as leaders need to be both autocratic and democratic at times, they also need to be both transactional and transformational.
Since there are a plethora of leadership models and theories, my emphasis is on becoming better at leading organizations through transformational leadership.
Transformational leadership has been defined by Gary Yukl and David Van Fleet as “a process of influencing major changes in the attitudes and assumptions of organization members (organization culture) and building commitment for major changes in the organization’s objectives and strategies.” This leadership model sheds light on the strategic role that followers have in the form of attitudes and values. Followers’ attitudes and values can be enhanced to accomplish higher-degree effectiveness and change implementation. Based on this view, Kerry Webb, an author and scholar in the area of management at Texas Woman’s University in the United States feels that the effectiveness among these types of leaders “is measured by the effect of leader behaviors on followers. Subordinates of transformational leaders verbalize feelings of admiration, respect, trust, and appreciation toward these leaders and are motivated to provide extra effort.” Extra effort does not only help the organization, but also helps the individual.
Executives recognize the importance of transformational leadership. In an effort to grasp the knowledge of executives worldwide, the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) surveyed business leaders to identify their current and new challenges by 2025. The results highlighted the significant role of leadership for organizations, and confirmed that business leaders identified leadership development as one of the main areas for using an outside consultant. Martin Schubert, a partner at Eric Salmon & Partners, states that companies “in technology, in industry, in financial services, even in consumer goods and life sciences, experiencing a change in their business models that are much more global, much more virtual, with diminishing hierarchies that require a different leadership type. And this drives both leadership advisory and executive search.”
In light of the increased pressures of the global workplace that inspires leaders to drive effective change at the organizational level, opportunities for transformational leadership consulting grow as organizations are increasingly participating in international markets. For example, Dorota Czarnota, a Country Manager at Russell Reynolds Associates, sees high potential for growing transformational leadership consulting across the globe.
Now we have identified that transformational leadership consulting has risen to a phenomenon that is worth understanding, learning, and using in organizations around the world. This article is set in place to inspire leadership development consultants to help executives implement transformational leadership in order to meet and exceed the challenges of the future. This article summarizes my experience of working with a team of top-level management consultants in San Diego, California. My experience says that transformational leadership consultants can help executives in clients’ companies develop these skills by using four aspects of idealized influence, individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation that enable interactions and provide more effective solutions for organizational problems. These aspects represent how an effective leader working in today’s knowledge-based economy can develop and manage intellectual capital in corporations. These four aspects include:
- The key for transformational leadership consultants is that executives can use idealized influence to develop a shared vision and improve relationships with followers.
- Transformational leadership consultants should be aware that executives can use individualized consideration, which concentrates on identifying employees’ individual needs and empowering followers in order to build a learning climate and mobilize their support towards goals at the organizational level.
- Transformational leadership consultants need to make deliberate attempts to inspire executives to use intellectual stimulation in order to propel knowledge sharing in the organization and generate more innovative ideas and solutions.
- Executives can also use inspirational motivation to focus on inspiring human assets, thereby setting a higher level of desired expectations for them. Executives need to obtain transformational leadership consultants’ suggestions, and integrate their suggestions into the decisions regarding how to inspire people and not just treat them as human assets.
The key take-away for leadership development consultants across the globe is that transformational leadership seems to be the in-vogue leadership model for today’s executive, and is more realistic than some of the other leadership models. And transformational leadership consulting has increasingly become one of the most dominant paradigms today and will be used by many companies around the globe in the next five years.
About the Author
Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies, and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.
AESC (2020), The Future of Executive Search and Leadership Consulting, Executive Talent, 17, pp. 4-15.
Yukl, G & Van Fleet, DD (1992) Theory and research on leadership in organizations. In Dunnette MD & Hough LM (eds), Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, vol. 3, pp. 147-197, Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA.
Webb, K (2007) Motivating peak performance: Leadership behaviours that stimulate employee motivation and performance, Christian Higher Education, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 53-71.