zweikern Lexikon
Transformational Leadership
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What is transformational leadership?


Transformational leadership is a concept in which the values and attitudes of followers are gradually transformed from individualistic goals to sustainable and overarching goals. At its core, it relies on the intrinsic motivation of the followers, which is built or strengthened over time. This is achieved, for example, by the leader presenting a vision that the followers can identify with.

Leaders, in this context, serve as direct role models for their followers and support them in their development.


The term "transformational leadership" and its associated meaning originate from the research of social psychologist James MacGregor Burns. Burns conducted his studies in the 1970s and published his findings in his book "Leadership" in 1978. In this book, he coined the term "transformational leadership" and described the characteristics of this leadership style.

Burns' research initially focused on political leadership and the examination of leadership figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. He developed the concept of transformational leadership to describe leadership styles that go far beyond mere task and resource management. Transformational leadership aims to influence the values, attitudes, and behaviors of employees, inspiring them to go beyond themselves to achieve common goals.

The ideas of Burns were later further developed and refined by other researchers, particularly Bernard M. Bass. Bass published his book "Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations" in 1985, contributing to making the concept of transformational leadership well-known in organizational and business leadership.

Today, transformational leadership is an established leadership approach and is considered an effective way to enhance the motivation, engagement, and performance of employees, both in political and business contexts.


  • Influential leadership

Additional Interesting Facts

Characteristics of Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership is characterized by four main features:

  1. Inspirational Motivation: Leaders motivate their employees by setting clear goals and exemplifying enthusiasm and optimism.

  2. Intellectual Stimulation: Leaders promote creativity and innovation by encouraging employees to view problems from different perspectives and develop innovative solutions.

  3. Individual Consideration: Leaders recognize and respect the individual needs and desires of their employees.

  4. Idealized Influence: Leaders act as role models through integrity, reliability, and authenticity.

Areas of Application and Impact

  • Organizational Development: Transformational Leadership can help create a corporate culture based on collaboration, common values, and mutual respect.

  • Team Performance: Studies have shown that transformational leadership correlates with increased team performance, job satisfaction, and employee engagement.

  • Sustainable Development: The approach can also be used to motivate employees to pursue sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.


  • Authenticity: The success of transformational leadership strongly depends on the authenticity and credibility of the leader.

  • Overexertion: There is a risk of overexerting employees through too high expectations and demands.

  • Consistency: The need to be consistent and reliable in applying the principles of transformational leadership can be challenging.

Research and Further Development

  • Transformational Leadership remains an active field of research, where scientists continue to explore the effectiveness, applicability, and development possibilities of this leadership approach.

  • Current Research: is focusing on how transformational leadership can be adapted and implemented in different cultural, social, and organizational contexts.

  • Growing Importance: of ethical leadership, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace is leading to a deeper examination of the role and opportunities of transformational leadership in these areas.

Education and Development

  • Modern Organizational Development: offers numerous training and development programs to teach leaders the principles and practices of transformational leadership.

  • These Programs: often focus on developing leaders' emotional intelligence, communication, and conflict resolution skills to enable effective transformational leadership.