The role every manager must fill in the workplace is leadership. Managers often make the mistake of assuming that because they are the managers, they are also the leaders and that their associates will automatically follow. In reality, position only denotes title, not leadership. Peter Northouse (2001) defines leadership as a process whereby one individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. To be an effective leader, the manager must influence his associates in a positive way to reach the goals of the organization. Furthermore, the transformational leadership approach can help managers become exceptional leaders. This paper will explain the transformational leadership approach by discussing its strengths, weaknesses, and steps for application.
To use this approach in the workforce, one must first understand exactly what transformational leadership is. In the simplest terms, transformational leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals (Northouse, 2001). In other words, transformational leadership is the ability to get people to want to change, to improve, and to be led. It involves assessing associates' motives, satisfying their needs, and valuing them (Northouse, 2001). Therefore, a transformational leader could make the company more successful by valuing its associates. One such example is Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, who often visited Wal-Mart stores across the country to meet with associates to show his appreciation for what they did for the company. Sam Walton gave "rules for success" in his autobiography, one of which was to appreciate associates with praise (Walton, 1996). There are four factors to transformational leadership, (also known as the "four I's"): idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration. Each factor will be discussed to help managers use this approach in the workplace.