Key Attributes of the Transformational Style of Leadership Essay

The key attributes of the transformational style of leadership are as follows:

Task versus Relationship

Working together in organizations is increasingly the norm, yet the challenges of working effectively are considerable. One challenge is conflict—the process resulting from the tension between team members because of real or perceived differences.

Empowerment versus Control

The empowerment leadership style calls for delegation and collaboration of the team, while control is about the competitive style of conflict, which is task oriented—taking a firm stand and operating from a position of power.

Getting Results versus Building Capacity

Getting results and building capacity should work hand in hand but can be at odds as well, depending on strategy and objectives. To gain results, a leader must build capacity of the team; however, building capacity takes time and resources away from getting results.

Shared Vision

Shared vision is related to the traditional concept of goal-oriented implementation and consensus building in strategy and leadership (related to products, technologies, or markets), and values are developed by strong, charismatic leaders and imbued in the organizations they create. A shared vision is imperative in that it is communicated and developed as the organizational culture.

Self versus Team Interests

Self versus team interest affects or is highly influenced by the organization’s culture. How does the team or organization achieve its
objectives and goals? Does the company promote and incentivize individual effort in lieu of team objectives? With one person excelling and the team suffering, does the entire organization succeed? Many times, individual goals or incentives must be sacrificed for the good of the team.

One example of a transformational leader is Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, who often visited Wal-Mart stores across the country to meet with associates to show his appreciation for what they did for the company. Sam Walton gave “rules for success” in his autobiography, one of which was to appreciate associates with praise (Walton, 1996). Wal-Mart leaders embrace a philosophy called “servant-leadership,” which simply means that if you are a leader you need to put the needs of your people first. Said another way, company leaders need to serve their employees (associates). When you boil it all down, the secret to Sam Walton’s leadership philosophies is servant-leadership. His belief was that to truly be an inspirational leader, you must serve those whom you lead. In this regard, Sam was as much an amateur psychologist as he was a merchant (Bergdahl, 2004).

There are 4 components to transformational leadership, sometimes referred to as the 4 I’s:

Idealized Influence (II) – the leader serves as an ideal role model for followers; the leader “walks the talk,” and is admired for this.

Inspirational Motivation (IM) – Transformational leaders have the ability to inspire and motivate followers. Combined these first two I’s are what constitute the transformational eader’s charisma.

Individualized Consideration (IC) – Transformational leaders demonstrate genuine concern for the needs and feelings of followers. This personal attention to each follower is a key element in bringing out their very best efforts.

Intellectual Stimulation (IS) – the leader challenges followers to be innovative and creative. A common misunderstanding is that transformational leaders are “soft,” but the truth is that they constantly challenge followers to higher levels of performance (Riggio, 2009).


Bergdahl, M. (2004). What I Learned From Sam Walton : How to Compete and Thrive in a Wal-Mart World. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from

Kouzes, J. (2007). The Leadership Challenge (4th ed). Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from

Riggio, R. (2009). Cutting-Edge Leadership. Retrieved from

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