In any organization, accountability, responsibility, and reliability hold immense significance. Accountability needs to be fixed at all levels within an organization with business leaders sharing the most of it. From driving employee engagement to devising strategies for business expansion, the onus is on business leaders. While some are transformational leaders, others embrace a more authoritative style of leadership.
In fact, there is a wide range of business leadership styles and different organizational leaders have their own way of going about things. Among these, which leadership style suits an organization the best will always be subject to a lot of factors. The comparison of different business leadership styles will often remain debatable. However, if we look at it from the purview of employee engagement, transformational leadership styles have a clear edge.
In this blog, we discuss at large how transformational leaders are highly effective in cultivating the desired state of employee engagement. The effectiveness of transformational leadership can fill the massive leadership gaps that exist in a large number of contemporary organizations. But before we elucidate on the winning traits of transformational leadership, let us glance at its definition.
Defining the transformational leadership style in business
Transformational leadership style can be best described as a process wherein leaders motivate, inspire, and lead employees through consistent innovation. Besides, transformational leaders encourage employees to drive positive changes in their organizations keeping a well-defined vision for business success in view. Their focus is on creating a company culture that embraces change, creative innovation, and more importantly autonomy in work.
If we talk about the examples of transformational leaders, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Satya Nadella are some of the most renowned transformational leaders. These leaders have always worked to empower their employees, define clear roadmaps for the future and personify stellar innovation. They drive their employees in the direction of overwhelming self-belief so that they can create a winning culture in the organization.
As the name of the leadership style suggests, these leaders always look forward to transforming things for the better. Be it about employee morale or organizational competencies, they are diligent in their pursuit of holistic transformation. Besides, they resonate well with the behaviors of their employees and inspire collective responsibility in the workplace. Moreover, they like to play a proactive role in the success of people around them and the overall advancement of the organization. They do not ever want to become complacent about their idea of transformations.
To further elaborate on how transformational leaders get the best out of their employees, let us delve deeper into the blog. Listed below are some of the most critical benefits of transformational leadership in terms of attaining high engagement.
Employee engagement benefits of transformational leadership
1. Promotes creative liberty in the workplace
Most modern CEOs have a general consensus on the opinion that creativity is a skill of utmost importance. In fact, a lot of them would also agree to the fact that creativity and innovation hold the key to the future success of businesses. However, having this realization and acting upon it are two different things altogether. While most leaders do acknowledge the massive significance of creativity, transformational leaders reinforce it in the workplace every day. They bring innovation to life every day.
To elucidate, transformational leaders believe that with creativity and innovation, they can set a strong course for future success. They feel that innovation should be at the forefront of almost everything within the organization. Hence, they promote complete creative liberty to their employees. They give employees the free space to come up with innovative ideas and creative insights into the scope of making processes more streamlined.
For employees, being able to walk up to their leaders and express their opinions is quite a privilege. This liberty to be as creative and innovative as they want gives employees a strong sense of empowerment. Needless to say, empowerment can do wonders in terms of bringing out the best in someone. Moreover, the freedom to express their opinions also promotes a massive sense of inclusion and belongingness in them. To elaborate, when employees feel their ideas and opinions are valued by the top management, they get more assurance that they belong in the workplace.
In the ultimate sense, all these advantages of promoting creative liberty in the workplace will lay a great foundation for skyscrapers of engagement. To cite an example, as concluded by Deloitte, a powerful sense of workplace belonging can optimize employees’ performance by 56 percent. This is a testament to the fact that liberty and empowerment are the core essentials of high engagement and retention.
2. Fosters high trust in the workplace
It would not be incorrect to say that trust is an understated and underrated virtue in the business world. Not a lot of corporate leaders tend to talk about the need for fostering high trust within their organization. However, this is where most business leaders miss the trick for making massive gains in terms of employee engagement.
Harvard Business Review thoroughly explains the neuroscience of high trust in the workplace. The key highlights of the inferences cited by Harvard Business Review are listed below.
- In organizations where employers and leaders show great trust in their employees, the employee engagement levels are higher by 76 percent.
- Employees in high-trust companies report 29 percent greater job satisfaction than employees in companies that lack mutual trust.
- In companies where leaders entrust their employees, the productivity levels stay higher by 50 percent in contrast to companies that do not pay heed to trust-building.
- Burnout rates are 40 percent lesser in companies where employees enjoy the trust and confidence of their leaders.
Would you still want to believe that trust-building does not have much relevance in corporate organizations? Trust can lead your business to some stellar achievements given how it enhances the overall morale of the organization. This is where transformational leadership proves to be the best approach for promoting high trust in the workplace.
To explain, transformational leaders back their employees with great trust and faith in their abilities. Rather than doubting the capabilities of employees, they give employees a fair opportunity to grow and excel in their tasks. Moreover, they encourage employees to believe in their own originality and enable employees to have complete ownership of their work. They trust their employees to make their own decisions and have accountability for the same.
Subsequently, employees respond to such backing with enormous engagement and dedication. When leaders allow employees to take ownership, employees have a point to prove. They would have to justify their leaders’ trust in them and for that, they will commit to greater engagement. In fact, high trust can change the entire workforce’s outlook on challenges. Employees will embrace challenges when they know their leaders stand by them.
3. Transformational leaders lead by example
One of the most distinguishable traits of transformational leaders is that they do not lead from the purview of authority. Transformational leaders rather lead through inspirational examples of conduct, performance, and precision. They stimulate the prerequisite intellect, work ethics, and efficiency for their team members. The most significant work ethics include reliability, accountability, sincerity, integrity, and professionalism.
Employees will be able to incorporate these ethics in a more worthwhile way when they see their leaders modeling them on a daily basis. Employees feel highly inspired when leaders model strong characters for them. Needless to say, sincere employees always look up to their leaders to learn from their character and personality. Speaking of transformational leaders, they have enchanting personalities that can capture employees’ interest and knack for learning.
Furthermore, as motivated employees begin to work on new goals influenced by their leaders, the engagement levels will see a tremendous hike. Employees will genuinely begin to believe that by learning from the exemplary attitude of their leaders even they can reach the pinnacle. Moreover, employees will tend to display enormous respect for transformational leaders.
This too will have a role to play in boosting employee engagement. It is the basic human tendency that people feel much more motivated when they hold their leaders in high regard. On the contrary, this may not be the case when leaders assert supreme authority without inspiring others. Working for an arrogant boss would be more of an obligation for most people.
4. Creates a positive workplace culture
It is intriguing to note that as per Forbes, strong company cultures can lead to a fourfold increase in company revenues. Of course, that has a lot to do with the simple fact that great company cultures facilitate high employee engagement. When your employees exhibit active engagement, they can help revenue go through the roof. But what do you think are the key dimensions of a powerful company culture that can lead to greater profitability?
Good and vibrant company culture is one that embraces inclusion, mutual respect, and support. All these traits of a high-performing culture can be promoted the best when business leaders switch to the transformational style of leadership. Transformational leadership is about supporting employees and backing their abilities. Besides, transformational leaders lay a lot of emphasis on promoting open communication and cooperation in the workplace.
Moreover, transformational leadership discourages the fundamentals of micromanagement. If you ask your employees, they will tell you that being micromanaged is the last thing they would want. Employees, especially millennials and Gen Z workers, look forward to their fair share of autonomy and flexibility. Transformational leaders are more than happy to offer the same.
The bottom line is that when you adopt a transformational style of leadership, you will be able to cultivate a vibrant, optimistic, and thriving company culture. In the aura of such a work environment, employees will feel the natural urge to perform beyond expectations. A lot of this enthusiasm and motivation will come out of gratitude for a supportive and respectful leader. The culture you are able to fabricate with your leadership will ultimately define the success of your business.
5. Builds mentor-mentee relationships
Although coaching is deemed as a different style of leadership altogether, transformational leadership has traits of coaching as well. Transformational leaders are convinced that they can help their employees evolve future competencies by mentoring them.
This mentor-mentee arrangement within an organization can be a critical success factor for any organization. We often talk about how vital employee learning and development is for the cause of high engagement.
To substantiate, Lorman cites that workplace learning is a key priority for 87 percent of millennials. Employees exhibit active engagement when they see their organizations invest in their careers. On the other hand, in the absence of learning and growth opportunities, employees tend to disengage. In fact, this disengagement may soon translate into their resignations.
Having said that, workplace learning is paramount. As a leader, even you want your employees to commit to sincere reskilling and upskilling as per the latest trends. Mentoring creates a natural environment of learning and this explains why a lot of organizations have extensive mentoring programs. Bain & Company, General Electric, and Caterpillar are to name a few of the leading corporate houses with excellent mentorship programs.
With a transformational style of leadership where leaders are more than willing to be coaches, mentoring programs will turn out to be even more successful. The mentor-mentee arrangements in the workplace will promote deeper connections and better working relationships. To add, learning will become a natural virtue in the organization when you embrace transformational leadership. Needless to say, that would encourage a dramatic increase in employee engagement levels.
6. Sets clear objectives and purpose
There could be multifarious reasons for low engagement within an organization. The lack of clarity on objectives and direction is a common one among them. Employees fail to engage as per expectations when there is no sense of direction or purpose explained to them with clarity. Having said that, disengagement can also be a consequence of ineffective leadership that fails to communicate clear goals and instructions.
In fact, as per Workforce, 60 percent of business organizations lack a long-term strategy for communication. To add, as cited by GoVitru, not more than 6 percent of companies communicate tasks and goals on a daily basis. These stats paint a rather dismal picture of the state of workplace communication. Besides, they also expose leadership incompetencies in more than half of the business organizations across the globe.
However, this is where transformational leaders outperform others yet again. Transformational leadership is renowned for its attribute of great clarity of purpose, intent, and priorities. They have a clear vision for the future and they know exactly what they need to reach their futuristic goals. So, when they communicate goals, business planning strategies, and vision in a clear and concise manner to their employees, there is a much better understanding of tasks and responsibilities.
Having a lucid and clear understanding of instructions, performance indicators, and objectives encourages greater motivation in employees. Transformational leaders are excellent at driving active engagement given their clarity of purpose and how they communicate it further.
7. Facilitates effective alignment of objectives
The most conducive scenario for high employee engagement exists when the personal ambitions of employees are aligned with organizational objectives. For that, leaders need to inspire employees to look beyond their self-interest and work for the larger good. In other words, leaders need to facilitate a worthwhile alignment between individual objectives and company objectives.
While different leaders have different approaches to this pursuit, transformational leaders prove to be outstanding. To explain, one of the most tangible traits of transformational leaders is their selflessness. They are selfless to the core and they rather assist others in their success by volunteering to offer all kinds of support. They empower others, appreciate others and prioritize the larger good over their personal interests. Needless to say, it is not a quality that most leaders tend to have.
Furthermore, transformational leaders encourage the same selflessness in employees. They enable employees to develop and grow in a way that also supplements the objectives of the organization. They motivate employees to look beyond their individual gains and rather grow in correlation with the organization. Having said that, they simplify the strategic alignment of objectives to drive greater engagement among employees.
To encapsulate, transformational leaders have charismatic and inspirational personalities that can motivate quite a few positive changes in the workplace. They embrace the idea of bringing transformations through innovation and paving the way for future success. Also, they have a more humane approach to their relationships with employees. They are happy to go the extra mile to render support to others for the larger good of the organization. In multifarious ways, their traits add up to the cultivation of an inclusive, progressive, and highly engaging workplace.