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Is the Transformational Leadership Theory Actually Contagious?

The present era of management has brought with itself many new styles of leadership and related theories. Transformational leadership theory is what we are going to discuss in the following article.
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.
~ Harry S. Truman
Change things for the many of us have the courage to go about with it? We often change ourselves to fit in with the world and its flow of affairs rather than facing the challenge of going against the flow to build a dam. Leave alone courage, how many of us care what our social, political and economic surroundings are like as long as we have access to our daily bread, find a piece of roof over our heads and are able to safeguard our modesty behind a few pieces of clothing? I wouldn't be very far from truth if I say none. However, when I say so, I don't mean to blame anyone for this convenient indifference - I understand that meeting the mundane responsibilities of our lives and tending to our domestic and professional callings on a daily basis is by no means a cinch. However, history bears testimony to the emergence of various intrepid bellwethers, the mavericks among the herd, who changed the course of human society by questioning and challenging the ways of the world at every step. This is what effective leadership is all about. Transformational leadership theory was first introduced by James MacGregor Burns in 1978. Let's take a detailed look at the theory of transformational leadership to understand its objectives and how this leadership model works.
What is Transformational Leadership?
According to the theory of transformational leadership, one of the most prominent theories of leadership, the leader seeks to not only guide the society and his followers in the right direction but also makes conscious efforts to bring about positive changes in the way the society thinks and acts for the betterment of the people. The eventual aim is to philosophically guide the followers such that they emerge as the ultimate leaders. The underlying philosophy goes in tandem with the well-known proverb, Give a man a fish and you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime. By bringing about a positive transformation in the way a person thinks of and deals with a situation, a transformational leader equips such a person to better his condition by inspiring him towards self motivation, perseverance and makes him dedicated towards achieving his goal in life. The philosophy and mechanism of action, as put down by the transformational leadership theory, as the cornerstones of this leadership style are as follows:-
Personal Attention and Consideration for the Individual
Under this leadership style, a transformational leader's primary duty towards his followers is to act as a mentor and guide to each of his follower and pay personal attention to individual needs and concerns. This is the first step that a transformational or any leader needs to take to win the confidence of his followers and keep all barriers to communication at bay. A patient ear and an empathetic understanding of the followers' individual concerns is the grease that keeps the follower-followed relationship greased and free from misconceptions and doubt. Indeed, empathy and communication are two of the most important qualities of a good leader. Only by listening to and understanding his followers can a leader motivate them in the right direction and inspire self-development in the former.
Intellectual Stimulation
Make them think - that's the true essence of transformational leadership. How else can you stir up another to think differently if you don't challenge prevalent assumptions and encourage your followers to question established norms? The quintessence of transformational hegemony is to encourage the followers to test the validity of any thought, idea or convention before accepting and adopting them rather than following them blindly. Simple as it may appear, intellectual stimulation is one of the toughest leadership challenges.
Inspirational Motivation
The transformational leader must have a strong sense of purpose and a clear vision of the achievable. The ability to envision is an indispensable leadership strength and he who does not have a clear vision of the goal cannot be a leader of any sort! He must also be able to instill these attributes into his followers and inspire them to set high standards, have perseverance, be optimistic and focus dedicatedly and completely upon the achievable goal. A visionary leader who is able to share his ideals with the masses in such a way that the latter are clearly able to understand and relate with the same is in an excellent position to drive his followers towards the path of achievement, regardless of whether such a path is rocky and strewn with thorns. This is where the most crucial leadership skills of an individual are put to test.
Idealized Influence or Charisma
The leader is himself the role model for his followers. Practice what you preach, adhere to the same standards that you set for your followers and the latter will see you in the light of reverence, pride and confidence. Followers would be more driven towards achieving their goals if you led by example.
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy are among those individuals who are best identified as examples of transformational leadership. Their ideals, philosophies and charisma altered the course of history by changing the way the world thought and acted. The theory of transformational leadership speaks about incorporating a positive and creative transformation in the society for the betterment of mankind. Many of us have our own ideals and principles based on which we lead (or try to lead) our lives but how many of us have it in them to undertake to change the ways of the society for the better? The answer is, very few. This is the reason why individuals possessing leadership qualities constitute of the minority (handful few would be more appropriate) of the entire global population.