Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (2023)

Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (1)

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There are lots of ways to skin a cat, or so the saying goes. While we aren’t in favour of skinning any creatures, we understand leadership has many faces. These transformational leadership examples show several different styles and characteristics that have been used successfully over time to capitalise on the advantages of transformational leadership styles.

Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (2)

Transformational Leadership as a Concept.

The concept of transformational leadership has changed since its creation by James V. Downton (1973), especially after books on the subject were published by James McGregor Burns (1978) and researcher Bernard M. Bass (1985).

It centres around the idea that a leader and their team can come up with a long-term vision for the future, pinpoints the challenges of achieving it, set aside tools and funding to deal with these challenges, and inspire the people around them to make it happen in a way that benefits themselves, too.

This is the opposite of a transactional leader, who gets followers to do his (or her) bidding by offering rewards and punishment.

Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (3)

Styles and Characteristics.

In every successful transformation in history, leaders made use of one of the four main styles and showed many common characteristics. The four transformational leadership styles are:

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  1. inspirational motivation
  2. individual consideration
  3. idealised influence
  4. intellectual stimulation
While the characteristics usually shown by leaders include:
  • self-management,
  • keeping ego in check,
  • appropriate risk-taking,
  • decision-making ability,
  • adaptability, and
  • a clear understanding of the organisation’s collective consciousness.

Companies wanting to go digital might know they need high quality, thoughtful managers, but it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some of the best-known transformational leadership examples to help guide you.

Transformational Leader #1: Steve Jobs.

Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (4)It’s not difficult to choose the late Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. as one of the most transformational leaders we’ve seen. After starting Apple in 1976 with partner Steve Wozniak, the pair worked out of Jobs’ garage building computer systems for sale to non-corporate customers. Long before anyone else fully got to grips with the possibilities of a personal computer, Jobs had the foresight and vision to follow his dreams, make difficult decisions, and influence people across the world.

Steve Jobs used inspirational motivation to challenge his team to think outside the box and stimulated them intellectually to develop products we didn’t even know we needed. Characteristics of Jobs’ leadership were his decision-making ability and adaptability, and in later years he was willing to take risks appropriate to his achievements.

Transformational Leader #2: Nelson Mandela.

Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (5)Transformational leadership doesn’t only happen in digital circumstances. Nelson Mandela will go down in history as one of the most inspirational role models of all time. After years spent leading the struggle for democracy in South Africa and being imprisoned in difficult conditions for 27 years, he was freed when the country reached a tipping point in its struggle against oppression.

In spite of everything Mandela had experienced, he came out of prison to lead the country as its next President, promoting forgiveness and unity. By doing so, he transformed South Africa into a democratic nation without the predicted bloodbath of racial revenge that the public feared and expected.

Mandela demonstrated an idealised influence leadership style and was respected by his followers and society in general because of his ethics and morals. His complete lack of personal ego and his excellent self-management showed that his values went beyond personal gains, and his actions were all seen to be for good of the country.

Transformational Leader #3: William Edwards Deming.

Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (6)Dr William Edwards Deming is widely considered the founder of the Total Quality Management (TQM) revolution. He was a doctor of maths and physics who worked for the U.S. government for most of his life. After World War II, he went to Japan for the U.S. Army and helped the Japanese apply statistical methods and processes to manufacturing. He planned to make Japan an industrial world leader in 5 years but achieved it in 4.

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Deming went back to the U.S. to apply transformational leadership examples in manufacturing, where his style of inspirational motivation produced results by 1980. Accounts of his achievements clearly show characteristics of collective consciousness, combined with effective self-management and an ability to keep his ego in check.

Transformational Leader #4: H. Ross Perot.

Transformational Leadership Examples: How to Succeed Like the Best in the Business. (7)H. Ross Perotwas another transformational leader in the digital environment. After a career in sales with IBM, he started Electric Data Systems, a company that built and serviced computer systems for customers. He used the element of individual consideration to great effect, having a popular “personal touch” style of leadership, with strong decision-making and risk-taking characteristics. Perot’s approach to customer service began the shift to the service-oriented way of working that so many companies now use.

Other Transformational Leadership Examples.

Transformational leadership theory states that team members support each other and the company out of trust, loyalty, and respect for their leader. This means it takes an exceptional person to become a transformational leader, but there is no shortage of these leaders in the history of Great Britain or the world. Some of the best known, past and present, are:

  • Oliver Cromwell, who was known for demonstrating care and respect for his men, keeping them motivated and inspired.
  • Sir Winston Churchill, who was recognised by leadership experts for being particularly good at seeing the bigger picture. He used individual consideration leadership to teach courage to the British people.
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten, whose focus on intellectual stimulation caused him to both attract and keep very intelligent, capable people to his ranks.
  • A digital transformational leader we don’t often hear much about is Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix. After founding the video streaming service in 1997, he took the leap into original content that has made Netflix an entertainment industry behemoth.
  • No list of digital transformational leaders would be complete without including Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. From a discount virtual bookstore in 1994, Amazon has grown into a corporation dominating multiple industries. Sadly, it appears Bezos has morphed from transformational to transactional leadership, given the reports from Amazon employees that have made the news lately.

If you’re thinking about making the shift to digital technology in your company you might find it useful to study these transformational leadership examples. It’s one thing to succeed in making the change over to digital, but it’s quite another to do it as successfully as the best role models in the business.

The U.K.’s Leadership Vacuum.

On a daily basis, organisations across the U.K. deal with challenges and obstacles, which are the nature of doing business.

Far too often, however, the setbacks resulting from these are caused by what the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) calls the national “accidental manager” complex. This occurs when a person is promoted internally based on their performance in a job, but they remain inadequately trained in managing others.

The research shows a total of 2.4m of these accidental managers currently functioning throughout the U.K., which, combined with other poor management practices, could be costing the economy up to £84 billion per year.

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An Unstoppable Force.

A transformational leader encourages, not commands.He (or she) inspires and motivates, not instructs, and leads by example, rather than by direction.

The 21st-century digital revolution is an unstoppable force, and at this point in time, we don’t know what the outcome will be. With the speed technology moves at, companies that can’t keep up with the changing scenarios are likely to fail, unless they can find themselves transformational leaders who can figure out how to succeed like the best in the business have done.

There are countless transformational leadership examples to be found, but the question is: how should you apply this concept to bring your business into the digital age?

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What are examples of transformational leadership? ›

Examples of Transformational Leadership

Oprah Winfrey: The media mogul is famous for her charismatic, visionary, and inspirational leadership style. Steve Jobs: Jobs was famous for his visionary leadership that transformed Apple into a leader in the technology industry.

How transformational leaders make their organization a successful one? ›

Set out expectations for performance, behaviors, and self-care. Make performance data transparent to everyone. Give people the tools they need to do their work. Invest in their development and upskilling — in particular, decision making, new technologies, and creativity.

Which of the following are examples of transformational leaders in business? ›

Examples of Transformational Leadership
  • Jeff Bezos (Amazon) ...
  • Billy Beane (Major League Baseball) ...
  • John D Rockefeller (Standard Oil) ...
  • Ross Perot (Electric Data Systems) ...
  • Reed Hastings (Netflix) ...
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft) ...
  • Steve Jobs (Apple) ...
  • Henry Ford (Ford Motors)
15 Jan 2020

What are the three most important transformational leadership lessons you have learned? ›

Here are five lessons to be learned from a transformational leader:
  • Be Inspirational.
  • Be influential, yet humble.
  • Be courageous, yet vulnerable.
  • Be willing to make sacrifices.
  • Build others up.
  • Final Thoughts.
1 Oct 2018

What is the best example of leadership? ›

Taking a lead role in a school project is a great example of leadership experience. If you delegated tasks, chose the overall strategy for the project, or anything like that, that's leadership! Organizing a team presentation can also be considered leadership.

How do you apply transformational leadership in the workplace? ›

How to Apply Transformational Leadership Skills at Your Company
  1. Push Your Team Out of Their Comfort Zone.
  2. Provide a Level of Transparency.
  3. Meet Your Employees' Needs.
  4. Listen to Any Concerns Your Team May Have.
  5. Set a Good Example.
11 Jul 2017

What makes business transformation successful? ›

A new survey suggests that for their transformations to succeed, organizations need employee buy-in at all levels, consistent communication, and better people strategies. Organizational transformations are hard work, and according to the latest McKinsey Global Survey on the topic 4.

What makes transformation successful? ›

Transformation is not about short-term cures, but long-term healing. Without ignoring short-term challenges, a successful transformation anticipates how to clear bigger-picture barriers and hurdles, how to achieve solutions that build sustainable advantage, while building momentum from the outset.

What should we do to make the transformation successful? ›

Four Ways to Lead a Successful Transformation
  1. Make the transformation meaningful. Whether employees buy into a change effort can spell the difference between success and failure. ...
  2. Be the change you want to see the mindsets and behavior you want to see. ...
  3. Build a strong and committed top team. ...
  4. Relentlessly pursue impact.
22 Sept 2011

Who is a transformational leader in business? ›

Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their workforce without micromanaging — they trust trained employees to take authority over decisions in their assigned jobs. It's a management style that's designed to give employees more room to be creative, look to the future, and find new solutions to old problems.

What is an example of leadership in business? ›

For example, a leader can be leading by example by accompanying the marketing team on a field visit to popularize the company's products. The leader should pitch clients the same way the marketing staff is doing, and this will boost the overall morale of the team.

Why is transformational leadership important in business? ›

Transformational leaders know how to encourage, inspire and motivate employees to perform in ways that create meaningful change. The result is an engaged workforce that's empowered to innovate and help shape an organization's future success.

What is the most important goal of transformational leadership? ›

Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers' needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization."

What is the main focus of transformational leadership? ›

Transformational leaders focus on “transforming” others to support each other and the organization as a whole. Followers of a transformational leader respond by feeling trust, admiration, loyalty, and respect for the leader and are more willing to work harder than originally expected. Another researcher, Bernard M.

What is the most important component of transformational leadership? ›

Idealized influence. For transformational leadership, it's important to put highly influential individuals in charge of making change. They serve as a role model to influence the behaviors and attitudes of other leaders and employees. Often, the most influential leaders are dynamic and charismatic communicators.

Which leadership is the best and why? ›

1. Authoritative Leadership. The authoritative leader knows the mission, is confident in working toward it, and empowers team members to take charge just as she is. The authoritative leader uses vision to drive strategy and encourages team members to use their strengths and emerge as leaders themselves.

How do you show good leadership? ›

How do you demonstrate leadership skills
  1. Offering to help a colleague who is having problems.
  2. Being supportive and encouraging.
  3. Praising fellow workers for good work.
  4. Giving credit to others.
  5. Showing empathy for people with difficult tasks.
  6. Communicating effectively.
  7. Working to improve team morale in difficult times.
21 Aug 2020

What makes a good leader Short answer? ›

A good leader should have integrity, self-awareness, courage, respect, empathy, and gratitude. They should be learning agile and flex their influence while communicating and delegating effectively. See how these key leadership qualities can be learned and improved at all levels of your organization.

How do you show transformational leadership? ›

Use these steps, along with the tools we outline below, to develop your transformational leadership skills.
  1. Step 1: Create an Inspiring Vision. ...
  2. Step 2: Motivate People to Buy Into and Deliver the Vision. ...
  3. Step 3: Manage Delivery of the Vision. ...
  4. Step 4: Build Ever-Stronger, Trust-Based Relationships With Your People.

How can I improve my transformational leadership skills? ›

You can become a transformational leader by following these steps:
  1. Create an inspiring vision of the future.
  2. Motivate people to buy into and deliver the vision.
  3. Manage delivery of the vision.
  4. Build ever-stronger, trust-based relationships with your people.

Where does transformational leadership work best? ›

Most transformational leaders are found at the executive levels of organizations because, “they have to be in a position of responsibility to impact the success of their organizations,” Stein adds.

How do you explain business transformation? ›

Business Transformation is the process of fundamentally changing the systems, processes, people and technology across a whole business or business unit, to achieve measurable improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction.

What is the transformation process in business? ›

Business process transformation is a long-term change management process that is driven by the external pressure to adapt to new conditions and requirements and meet business goals. It involves radical changes to business processes and must be aligned with company strategy.

What are the 5 keys of business success? ›

Business Matters: 5 keys to success
  • Create a market-fit product. It sounds so straightforward, however, I see plenty of entrepreneurs starting their businesses without having a good product. ...
  • Focus on what's important. ...
  • Develop your leadership skills. ...
  • Look after your customer. ...
  • Find time to think.
14 Jun 2021

What is the most important transformation phase? ›

Phase Zero: The Most Important Stage in Digital Transformation.

What is the importance of transformation? ›

Without transformation, you can risk becoming irrelevant in today's fast changing landscape. Irrespective of the industry you are in, your organization needs to transform to survive in the evolving business environment. As a marketing leader you can help steer a large organization towards transformation.

What is a transformational strategy? ›

What is a Transformational Strategy? A transformational business strategy refers to big changes that need to be made in order to ensure long-term success. These changes involve an organisation's existing products, services and overall business model, as well as what processes, equipment and infrastructure are used.

What is the key to transformation? ›

Self-Awareness: The Key to Transformation.

How do you implement a transformation plan? ›

7 steps for planning and executing a digital transformation
  1. Step 1: Identify your objectives. ...
  2. Step 2: Focus on customer needs. ...
  3. Step 3: Establish new processes. ...
  4. Step 4: Choose your technology wisely. ...
  5. Step 5: Restructure to accommodate change. ...
  6. Step 6: Execute your plan. ...
  7. Step 7: Allow space for agility. ...
  8. Take your time.

How do you prepare the business organization for transformation? ›

Preparing for a Successful Business Transformation
  1. Understand external disruptors. Allocate both human and technology resources to evaluate the external forces that are poised to reshape your market. ...
  2. Build an agile culture. ...
  3. Cultivate internal leaders. ...
  4. Keep an eye on technology. ...
  5. Create dynamic team structures.

How do transformational leaders motivate employees? ›

Transformational leaders motivate their employees to achieve high performance by establishing an attractive and exciting vision, setting challenging yet achievable goals, being confident and optimistic and emphasizing team spirit and common values (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985; Grant, 2012).

What are the benefits of transformational leadership? ›

Here are some of the advantages of using transformational leadership:
  • Promotes motivation. ...
  • Maintains workplace integrity. ...
  • Defines a clear vision and goal. ...
  • Encourages professional development. ...
  • Improves loyalty and decreases turnover. ...
  • Encourages passion. ...
  • Eases transitions. ...
  • Improves communication.
14 Dec 2021

What is the best leadership for a business? ›

5 Most effective leadership styles for business success
  • Democratic leadership style. This leadership style is commonly effective for most companies. ...
  • Laissez-faire leadership style. ...
  • Pacesetting leadership style. ...
  • Autocratic leadership style. ...
  • Strategic leadership style.
20 Feb 2020

How do you answer a leader interview question? ›

Tips for answering leadership interview questions
  1. Situation: Start by establishing the situation and sharing any important details.
  2. Task: Recount your specific task or responsibility.
  3. Action: Describe, step by step, what you did to address the task or responsibility.
  4. Result: End with the impact of your actions.
16 Aug 2022

How can I be a good example? ›

To lead by example means to guide others through your behavior instead of your words. Your intention is to inspire others to copy your behavior. The opposite of leading by example is to say one thing and do another. The saying “do as I say, not as I do” may have worked in the past, but it has no place in today's world.

Is transformational leadership successful? ›

Transformational leadership is regarded as one of the best leadership styles for inspiring individuals to succeed. They do this by recognising the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members and realise that each person works to their capabilities.

Why transformational leadership is the best for change management? ›

Transformational leadership encourages mentor buddy relationship between the leader and the follower, thus creating a conducive environment for innovation and improves organizational preparedness for any kind of change process.

Is transformational leadership more effective? ›

Transformational Leadership is more effective than Transactional Leadership. There is empirical evidence that Transformational Leadership is more effective than Transactional Leadership.

What is the best leadership style? ›

Democratic leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles. This is because it allows lower-level employees to exercise the authority they'll need to use wisely in future positions.

What are the three goals of transformational leadership? ›

Transformational Leadership and Goal Attainability

Accordingly, leaders have three levers to adjust in order to make goals more attainable: opportunities, control, and support.

What are the values of a transformational leader? ›

Passion: Demonstrate your personal connection and commitment to the work. Integrity: Say what you mean, do what you say. Humility: Recognize that your perspective is soften incomplete and seek out the ideas, knowledge and skills of others to grow. Hope: Affirm the possibilities of the future.

What is most commonly a transformational leader's action? ›

Transformational leaders work with their employees to implement change. Transformational leaders create a vision for their followers and guide the change through inspiration and motivation. They are excellent role models and their followers emulate many of their actions.

What are the 4 types of transformational leadership? ›

There are four factors to transformational leadership, (also known as the "four I's"): idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration.

Which is the best transformational leadership? ›

The best transformational leaders are adaptable and innovative. Good transformational leaders understand changing business dynamics and are always finding innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve. They're unafraid to alter traditional approaches that have worked in the past as they look toward the future.

How do transformational leaders achieve goals? ›

Transformational leaders do this by involving subordinates in the process of identifying goals and objectives, having well-defined expectations of everyone and communicating them clearly, and by showing an undeniable personal dedication to the shared goals and objectives.

What is most commonly a transformational leaders action? ›

Transformational leaders work with their employees to implement change. Transformational leaders create a vision for their followers and guide the change through inspiration and motivation. They are excellent role models and their followers emulate many of their actions.

Why you should be a transformational leader? ›

Transformational leadership allows workers to feel connected to their organization. Transformational leaders motivate by increasing self-efficacy in followers, by facilitating social identification within a group, and by linking organizational values to follower values.

What does it mean to be a good transformational leader? ›

Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their workforce without micromanaging — they trust trained employees to take authority over decisions in their assigned jobs. It's a management style that's designed to give employees more room to be creative, look to the future, and find new solutions to old problems.

What are transformational leadership strategies? ›

Transformational leaders practice a style of leadership that inspires positive changes in both the employees under them and the organization as a whole. Equal parts visionary, mentor and source of inspiration, these leaders create a culture of innovation and positive change that leads to successful business outcomes.

What are the transformational strategies? ›

What is a Transformational Strategy? A transformational business strategy refers to big changes that need to be made in order to ensure long-term success. These changes involve an organisation's existing products, services and overall business model, as well as what processes, equipment and infrastructure are used.

What are transformational skills? ›

Transformational leaders need to be disruptive innovators, willing to adapt to the unknown territory ahead. From the C-Suites to the front lines, the skills required to succeed involve the ability to take calculated risks, innovate, collaborate, and engage in authentic leadership.


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2. How Transformational Leadership Can Transform Your Business
3. What is Business Transformation? Drivers and Tips to Succeed
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4. Purpose Driven Leaders: Leadership Development for Business Transformation
5. SCA USA Business Chats: Transformational Leadership
(SCA USA Chapter)
6. Visionary Leadership Style - One of the best of the 6 styles based on Emotional Intelligence!
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