Transformational leadership is the new reality

Transformational leadership is the new reality

Leadership and management have been discussed and employed for many years – there are very few postgraduate courses that do not cover the key associated issues. Transformational leadership, though not a new concept (Burns 1978), is emerging as the mode of leadership best suited to the new reality and to these hanging times.


What is transformational leadership?
A solid definition is – ‘a leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.’ Essentially the followers become the leaders.

The ideal approach to change management is using a leadership approach that assists the change to take place and equally important to ensure that those involved have a high level of ‘buy in’ and feel that they are part of that change – and despite perhaps being uncomfortable with all the elements of the change (perfectly understandable) – are able to embrace the ‘new reality’ with their self-esteem and ownership intact.

A reasonably big ask, by the way.


Elements of transformational leadership
It is commonly held (Farnsworth et al 2020) that there are four elements of transformational leadership. They are – Idealized influence; Inspirational motivation; Intellectual stimulation and Individual consideration.


What qualities does a transformational leader have?
According to Nuthouse (2001) top end leaders – who have focus on the transformational approach - have a range of qualities (perhaps they could actually be called - skills) that are needed in the new reality. These include – the ability to empower followers to do what is best for the organization; the ability to be a strong role model with high values; to be able to listen to all viewpoints in order to develop a spirit of cooperation; be able to create a vision, using people in the organization; have the acumen to be a change agent within the organization by setting an example of how to initiate and implement change; and understand that the best way to help the organization is by helping others contribute to that same organization.


Leadership for the new reality
So much has changed in the new normal as a consequence of COVID-19 and its impact on a world scale. Many are using the term – the new reality – which best sums up the times and the rapid changes seen in so many domains. In order to lead (or perhaps facilitate) the change that is need to cope and thrive in this new reality – a special kind of leadership – transformational – is needed.





Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is Deputy Vice Chancellor at UBSS and Vice President (Academic) at GCA.