The Most Effective Leadership Style: Explained

There are so many different leadership styles that exist or ways of using power to lead other people. In fact, as many as 12 different leadership styles have been determined, from autocratic, democratic, strategic, to cross-cultural leadership and the list goes on… But one remains the most effective. It’s called “Transformational leadership”- and here’s why.

1. What separates Transformational Leaders to others

Transformational leadership is defined on Business Dictionary as “a style of leadership in which the leader identifies the needed change, creates a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executes the change with the commitment of the members of the group.”

Sounds pretty obvious, no? Identifying the needed change and finding the right inspiration to execute it. This may be each leader’s objective – but that doesn’t mean they all succeed at it. Unlike other styles of leadership, transformational leadership is all about initiating change – be it in groups, organizations or even oneself. Leaders that know how to initiate change while leading by example.

Transformational leaders are so motivated that they exceed their capabilities and typically achieve higher success than others. They know how to motivate others – the same way they motivate themselves. Take a transformational leader as a role model: someone who everyone admires, trusts and respects.

A Forbes article puts it simply:

“Transformational leaders have the ability to listen and connect wholeheartedly –  with compassion, respect, and emotional balance – with all people, regardless of their different ideologies and beliefs.”

In general, what makes great leaders are strong convictions. But when you add a spark of emotions, psychology and simply a more “human side”, you get transformational leaders who actually make a difference.

When talking about this kind of leadership, it’s essential to shed light on Bernard M. Bass, an author who established many theories on the matter. He was especially concerned of the psychological relationship between a transformational leader and his/her followers – he defined transformational leadership as “leaders who garner trust, respect and admiration from their followers” but originally believed that there could be both good and evil transformational leaders.

In result, he had called Hitler a transformational leader. Although more recently, he argued that only morally good leaders are transformational leaders. Those like Hitler are “pseudo-transformational.” In other words, defined as “people who seek power and position at the expense of their followers’ achievements.”

Let us not confuse both.

Real transformational leadership, with good morals, leads to:

-A performance increase
-A boost of individual growth and development
-Organizational development and change


2. The example of Elon Musk

 The best, most up-to-date example to give when describing transformational leaders is Tesla’s and SpaceX’s CEO: dynamic Elon Musk, or the man who wants to colonize Mars.

As described before, transformational leadership is about leading by example. That’s exactly what Elon Musk, 39th wealthiest person in the US, does. With his inventions and his dedications, he gets drawn a huge amount of attention from the world – and consequently, has employees who tirelessly follow his mindset and working style. Transformational leaders empower followers – more than any other leaders.

Based on research on Elon Musk’s Leadership, “Employees of SpaceX and Tesla Motors are known to take initiative, work extremely hard, be productive, and most importantly, innovate.” Just imagine how much his followers must be working to get his revolutionary companies succeeding.  Dolly Singh, former HR head at Space X declared about Elon Musk, “The thing that makes Elon Elon is his ability to make people believe in his vision.”

There is no doubt that Elon Musk has a vision. It seemed unrealistic to many, but he proved to be the opposite.

If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk

Even when times were rough at Tesla, Musk continued to fund the company out of his pocket – more specifically, investing over $100 million. Here, it’s important to take note that transformational leadership seems to be very effective in periods of crisis.

Last but not least, Elon Musk, along with any other transformational leaders, shares one essential trait: they have a positive self-regard. Can you imagine an Elon Musk or a Steve Jobs with no self-respect? Additionally, and evidently, such leaders need a strong focus on positivity over negativity.

3.The steps you should take to implement transformation

👑Challenging the status quo
Transformational leadership is all about challenging the status quo. Transformational leaders are never afraid of failure – they work in an environment where they can be creative with all of their team members whilst challenging cultural norms.

👑Inspirational Motivation
Before going anywhere, set a vision or a precise strategy to attain your goal. Then, see your strategy in the big picture – always with optimism, motivation and passion. Let your followers know that they are part of something much bigger than a simple task.

👑Perseverance
Evidently, transformation means conflict. Remember all the people who didn’t believe in Elon Musk’s vision at first. But that didn’t stop him. No matter what others will say about your ideas, the key to transforming anything is to persevere regardless of the circumstances.

“Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” John D. Rockefeller.

To conclude, transformational leadership means having a vision and making it happen – no matter how many bumps there are in the process. People often refer to leadership as the image of a Charismatic, dominant leader. But being a good transformational leader means having good people skills – and knowing exactly what is needed at a precise time, job and place. It is people-oriented leadership mixed with a sharp emotional intelligence.

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