How to Be a Transformational Leader: 4 Things to Do

February 11, 2019

How to be a transformation leader – embody these four characteristics.

It doesn’t matter what your current job is. How long you've been at your organization. Or what your duties are.

You have the ability to be a transformational leader.

Why is that important, exactly?

"In this new world, we need every single person to be a leader who can have impact," Henna Inam said in her LinkedIn Learning course, Transformational Leadership. "We need transformational leaders like you so each of us can engage powerfully to solve the problems that matter to us."

What effect does this have on the people around you?

A tremendous one. It inspires people to do their best work. Try new things. And, while they might actually work even harder, burnout will be less as they’ll see the bigger purpose behind what they do.

The Four Practices of Transformational Leaders

I know what you are thinking – being a transformational leader sounds great! So, how do I do it?

According to Inam, the foundation of being a transformational leader is composed of four major components. If you embody those four components, you’ll inspire both yourself and your colleagues to do their best work. 

Former executive Henna Inam explains the four practices of transformational leaders in her LinkedIn Learning course, Transformational Leadership.

The four components of transformational leaders are, according to Inam:

    1. Know your values – and lead with them.

This is really the most important on the list. You can’t be a transformational leader unless you have underlying values that drive the work you do.

For example, maybe you are a plumber, and you value providing people with great service at a fair price, so when their sink breaks at midnight they know they can call you and get a fair shake. Maybe you are a software developer, and you value writing code that connects people and makes the world more efficient. Maybe you are in sales, and you value solving the problems of your customers.

With these values in place, you raise the expectations of yourself and everyone around you. Not only are you working to hit a quota or to hit a company-mandated goal, but instead to solve a problem you believe in.

That belief will inspire you and those around you to do what’s needed, instead of just what’s good enough to get the job done.

    2. Model integrity.

I’m reminded of this Warren Buffett quote: “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy and we look for integrity. And, if they don't have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you're going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb."

That’s because there’s nothing more dangerous than a persuasive, driven person who has no integrity. We can all think of a few world leaders who had that combination and the damage they caused.

So, going to the first point, yes you need to have values you believe in that honestly make the world a better place. But you also need to pursue those values with integrity.

The end doesn’t justify the means. There are always honest ways to accomplish your goals; they just might be a little harder to execute.

    3. Stay curious and inspire innovation.

You might have the first two qualities. Although, if you have this belief that your way is the only way and it comes down only to executing that way better, you won’t get far.

“Transformational leaders invite their team to bring their very best ideas,” Inam said. “They get curious about different points of view. They encourage open debate on solutions. This encourages others to feel like their ideas matter and they contribute more.”

    4. Empower your teammates to do their best work.

Ultimately, like most things in life, transformational leadership comes down to relationships.

So, yes, the first three are critical. But so is connecting with the people you work with. Understanding them, their values and what motivates them.

The better you understand the people you work with, the better you can partner with them to get absolute best results. That’s really what transformational leadership is all about – inspiring others to join you on your journey and working together to accomplish more than you could ever do alone.

Want to learn how to be a transformational leader who inspires those around you to do their best work? Watch Henna Inam’s course, Transformational Leadership, today.

Topics within the LinkedIn Learning course include: