The Research

Transformational Leadership is the world’s most researched and proven leadership style for achieving extraordinary performance outcomes. 


Transformational leadership is a style of influencing that elevates people to achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Transformational leadership is a style of influencing that elevates people to achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Transformational leaders leverage the collective power of the group to align individual talent with purpose and performance. They operate from a foundation of trust and integrity as they motivate their teams by inspiring purpose, encouraging innovation, and coaching others to unleash their potential.

Since its introduction by Burns (1978), and further development by Bass and Avolio (1990), Transformational Leadership has become the world’s most popular framework for understanding high-performance leadership behaviour and impact.

Researchers have found that Transformational Leaders achieve significantly:


  • Stronger business performance and bottom-line results
  • Higher well-being and mental health
  • Greater productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction in the workplace
  • Greater commitment and success with Transformational Change
  • Stronger corporate social responsibility practices, behaviours, and business performance
  • Stronger team diversity and related outcomes
  • Greater entrepreneurism and performance
  • Reduced absenteeism and turnover
  • Reduced safety incidences and costs
  • Greater innovation and creativity
Build Trust.
Transformational leaders leverage interpersonal trust and respect as their source of influence. They foster strategic relationships to overcome challenges and achieve extraordinary performance without the need to exert seniority or positional power over others. They build trust and earn the admiration and respect of others as their foundation of influence.
Lead with Integrity. 

Transformational leaders walk the talk. They role model high standards for behaving and earn deep respect from all their stakeholders. They behave in line with their values and operate beyond self-interest for the good of the group.

Inspire Others.

Transformational leaders inspire and rally others towards a shared sense of purpose. Good leaders set the vision, Transformational leaders inspire others to go above and beyond to realise vision.

Encourage Innovation.

Transformational leaders encourage innovative thinking by valuing diversity of thought and background. They actively seek different opinions to overcome biases and get others to approach problems from different angles. They strategically challenge the status quo to drive innovation and empower change.

Coach People.

Transformational leaders unleash the potential in others to drive cascading impact across the business. They value the uniqueness of each person and invest in teaching and coaching others to realise brilliance. Transformational leaders coach others to lead and foster a culture of growth and continuous improvement.

Five Signature Behaviours of a Transformational Leader

Bass and Avolio (1990) identified 5 signature behaviours of Transformational Leaders. These include:

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is a style of influencing that achieves the status quo through structure, supervision, and compliance.

Transactional leaders pay close attention to set specific goals and monitor deviations from standards. They achieve short term performance by rewarding what is expected and punishing deviations from standards.

Although useful to achieve short term goals, overuse of this style reduces long term commitment, engagement, and satisfaction. Bass and Avolio (1990)  identified 2 Transactional Leadership behaviours.

These include:

Reward Achievements.

Transactional leaders set clear goals and reward others when performance standards are met. They define, reward, and achieve what is expected.

Monitor Mistakes.

Transactional leaders monitor mistakes and deviations from standards. They spend their time on quality control and intervene when performance is below expectation. They use punishments and performance management to correct behaviour but build resentment in the process

Bass and Avolio (1990) identified 2 Passive-Avoidant leadership behaviours.

These include:


Avoid Involvement.

Passive-Avoidant leaders are never around when needed. They avoid getting involved when important issues arise and delay responding to critical decisions. Avoiding involvement erodes trust and signals to the team that there are more important matters to attend to.

Fight Fires.

Passive-Avoidant leaders only respond when problems become serious. They fail to intervene appropriately and wait for things to go wrong before taking action.

Leadership Derailers 

Passive-Avoidant leaders slash productivity, satisfaction, and engagement by eroding trust and setting the standard for poor performance.


Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational dynamics, 18(3), 19-31.

Menguc, B., Auh, S.,& Shih, E. (2007). Transformational leadership and market orientation: Implications for the implementation of competitive strategies and business unit performance. Journal of business research, 60(4), 314-321.

Kelloway, E. K., Turner, N., Barling, J., & Loughlin, C. (2012). Transformational leadership and employee psychological well-being: The mediating role of employee trust in leadership. Work & Stress, 26(1), 39-55.

Dumdum, U. R., Lowe, K. B., & Avolio, B. J. (2013). A meta-analysis of transformational and transactional leadership correlates of effectiveness and satisfaction: An update and extension. In Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: The Road Ahead 10th Anniversary Edition (pp. 39-70). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Herold, D. M., Fedor, D. B., Caldwell, S., & Liu, Y. (2008). The effects of transformational and change leadership on employees’ commitment to a change: A multilevel study. Journal of applied psychology, 93(2), 346.

Khan, H. U. R., Ali, M., Olya, H. G., Zulqarnain, M., & Khan, Z. R. (2018). Transformational leadership, corporate social responsibility, organizational innovation, and organizational performance: Symmetrical and asymmetrical analytical approaches. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 25(6), 1270-1283.

Kearney, E., & Gebert, D. (2009). Managing diversity and enhancing team outcomes: the promise of transformational leadership. Journal of applied psychology, 94(1), 77.

Engelen, A., Gupta, V., Strenger, L., & Brettel, M. (2015). Entrepreneurial orientation, firm performance, and the moderating role of transformational leadership behaviors. Journal of Management, 41(4), 1069-1097.

Frooman, J., Mendelson, M. B., & Kevin Murphy, J. (2012). Transformational and passive avoidant leadership as determinants of absenteeism. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 33(5), 447-463.

Lee, D., Coustasse, A., & Sikula Sr, A. (2011). Transformational leadership and workplace injury and absenteeism: Analysis of a national nursing assistant survey. Health Care Management Review, 36(4), 380-387.

García‐Morales, V. J., Lloréns‐Montes, F. J., & Verdú‐Jover, A. J. (2008). The effects of transformational leadership on organizational performance through knowledge and innovation. British journal of management, 19(4), 299-319.