When a leader puts people and relationships at the center of any effort for cultural change, we describe their strategy as transformational leadership.

A true transformational leader knows that it is their people who get results and execute any change. The leader is the conduit. Transformational leadership builds the capability of people and brings higher levels of personal commitment from individuals to the organization’s vision and objectives.

Experts in the field say that transformational leaders can motivate followers to transcend their own interests for some other collective purpose. They appeal to higher order needs (e.g. to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy). They create trust, admiration, loyalty, and respect in their followers.

According to Bernard Bass, transformation leadership “occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees, when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when they stir employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group.” When a leader is transformational they define a mission-driven culture that is focused on people, allows creativity and innovation, and is inspiring.

Whether consciously or not, transformational leaders focus on six critical areas. Leaders who are more transactional can take a page from the playbook of transformational leaders by intentionally developing their skills.


A transformational leader spends time in self-reflection and familiarity with their own strengths and weaknesses. They strive for humility by constantly learning and listening to others. They allow themselves to be vulnerable, willing to admit mistakes, and capable of personal ownership.


Transformational leaders are able to have difficult conversations and address poor performance among their teams because they have strong conflict management and communication skills that enable them to address interpersonal conflicts proactively. They take calculated risks and make tough decisions to achieve their vision.

Inspiring Vision

Transformational leaders can create and successfully share their vision for a compelling future state for their organizations. They display passion and energy around the mission that creates excitement and drive for others.


Transformational leaders help others find their places in the future state by allowing them to use their strengths. They provide clarity for goals and expectations so people know the target. They reward and recognize the success of the individual and the team.

Creativity and Innovation

Transformational leaders encourage open dialogue and debate so the best ideas can emerge. They welcome discovery and nurture independent thinking in order for people to bring full creativity and engagement to the process.

Strong, Trust-Based Relationships

Transformational leaders instill trust with active listening and empathy. They “walk the talk” by providing a role model of integrity and ethical behavior. They are always present. They manage by walking around and they value each individual and their unique contribution.

Keep in mind as a transformational leader, you’ll need to take the time to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses as a leader. This will require that you set aside time and space for personal reflection and development and it often factors into the level of accountability that you demonstrate as a leader.


At Kinetic Insights, our PathFinders are skilled in helping leaders unleash the greatness in themselves and in their organizations. Call or email us for a quick discussion that just might put you and your team on the path to significant change.

Karen Semon brings over 25 years of progressive experience with national and multi-national companies to her role as a PathFinder. Karen has unique insight into organizational behavior and leadership, which has been developed through her successes in myriad industries and corporate cultures.