The concept of leadership has been the subject of numerous studies and scholarly debates for several years. It keeps evolving as the dynamics within groups, teams, and organizations keep changing. Leadership is associated with elements such as direction, governance, administration, command, control, and mastery among others (Sperry, 2013). A leader is considered an individual with the ability to create a vision, inspire people to support it, and motivate them to work towards a common goal. Effective leadership is a crucial element of prolonged success and competitiveness in an organization.
Leaders in the contemporary world have a more challenging task compared to their predecessors because of the growing challenges associated with technological innovations and globalization (Rahman, 2016). Leaders in the current generation are dealing with teams and a workforce characterized by individuals from diverse cultures, educational backgrounds, and religious beliefs. The dynamic nature of leadership as a concept has been explained by different theorists who have given unique explanations. Some of the commonly referenced theories of leadership include the trait theory, behavioral theory, contingency theory, transformational theory, great man theory, and situational theory among others (Sperry, 2013). According to the theorists, leaders cannot be the same because of their comprehension and approach to issues tends to differ. This explains the phenomenon where some leaders tend to perform better than others do, while others are suited for specific types of jobs.
Transformational theory of leadership
Transformational theory best describes my approach to leadership. It argues that a leader is someone who chooses to work with his or her subordinates to identify gaps, create a vision to fill them, and effect change along with all the involved individuals. One of the basic principles of transformational leadership is enhancing motivation, confidence, purpose, usefulness, team spirit, performance, and morale (Lussier & Achua, 2015). In an organizational setup, transformational leadership focuses a lot on promoting a sense of collective identity to work towards a common goal. This includes the willingness of employees to take responsibility for their actions and having greater ownership in the decision-making process. Transformational leaders also make an effort to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their team members because it allows them to allocate tasks in a manner that will enhance performance (Harrison, 2017).
Although the concept of transformation has been used to describe the leadership styles of politicians over the years, many researchers in the contemporary world have turned to the corporate sector to identify and analyze individuals that are effecting changes wherever they go (Rahman, 2016). Transformational leaders tend to draw followers by winning their trust and respect, which later transcends loyalty and admiration. Transformational leaders are naturally charismatic, risk-takers, and emotionally intelligent. Researches on leadership have established that effective leaders understand their own emotions and the way they are likely to affect the people that follow them (Harrison, 2017). This entails the ability of a leader to be sensitive towards the needs, interests, and concerns of all followers. Also, providing leadership in the contemporary world requires a culturally competent individual because globalization has resulted in cross-cultural interactions that have greatly diversified the population of many communities across the world.
Organizations in the modern world are also in great need of transformational leaders. The reason for this is the fact that the working environment is characterized by escalating levels of uncertainty and instability necessitated by the high rate of technological advancements that influence the sustainability of numerous market dynamics. Research has shown that people who follow and work under transformational leaders tend to exhibit a high degree of job satisfaction, motivation to work, and commitment (Lussier & Achua, 2015).
For any organization to achieve prolonged success and unrivaled competitive advantage in the market, a committed and motivated workforce is a necessity. Transformational leaders are good at making employees feel valued within the workplace by engaging them in the making of decisions, as well as playing a major role in the change process. Management experts argue that the reason why transformational leaders are so effective in bringing change within organizations is the fact that they involve everyone in the process (Harrison, 2017). This allows them to learn and address the major concerns that employees might have with the proposed changes, thus eliminating the possibility of any resistance once the implementation process starts. Compared to other leadership styles, transformational leadership tends to have results that are more positive because compliance from followers comes naturally. Other leadership styles tend to use incentives such as rewards to earn the trust, loyalty, and commitment of followers (Miner, 2015). In transformational leadership, progress precedes the need to maintain the status quo.
Dynamics of transformational leadership
The transformational theory argues that visionary, daring, and thoughtful leadership is exhibited by four major elements. The first one is the inspirational motivation that entails the ability of a leader to exhibit consistency concerning setting values for all followers, building a sense of meaning to the values, and building a challenge to promote them (Miner, 2015). The second one is intellectual stimulation that entails the ability of a leader to build a culture of creativity and innovativeness among all the followers. Besides, the leader should exhibit the desire to support new ideas and avoid criticizing any follower in front of others. The third element is idealized influence, which entails the ability of a leader to be a role model to his or her followers. The theory argues that a leader can have a positive impact on all followers only with his or her actions. This entails the willingness of a leader to put the needs and interests of followers ahead of individual ones, thus easily winning their trust and respect (Nongard, 2014). Transformational leaders also demonstrate high ethical standards in their conduct because they know how much their followers can go at emulating the things they see them do and pick up the words they often use.
The fourth element is individualized consideration that entails the ability of a leader to guide and provide advice to followers in the capacity of a mentor. It also involves the willingness of a leader to reward followers for their good work, as well as creative and innovative ideas (Nongard, 2014). A transformational leader should be in a position to treat followers according to their abilities and level of education. This plays a crucial role in making followers understand their passion, feel empowered, and develop greater worth in their beliefs. Studies have established that people tend to feel more motivated to progress in life and be more passionate about their interests when they realize their purpose in life. The charismatic nature of transformational leaders plays a pivotal role in helping their followers achieve this feat within a short period (Miner, 2015).
Transformational leadership of Nelson Mandela
Studies have established that transformational leaders have five unique traits that place them a tier above all their peers. The five distinguishing features are extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness to experience (Dugan, 2017). Nelson Mandela perfectly exemplifies the concept of transformational leadership. The late former president of South Africa was a leadership icon who will forever be held in high esteem across the world. He gained global acclaim for his efforts in fighting the end of apartheid in South Africa, a cause that saw him incarcerated for many years. He applied transformational leadership principles of sacrifice, commitment, consistency of message, and authenticity to transform the society (Mandela, 2014). One of the notable elements that characterized the leadership of Nelson Mandela was his insistence on the value of forgiveness because he believed that changing the mindset of a whole society does not require any form of retaliation. People that were close to Mandela describe him as a charismatic and inspirational leader who believed in giving his followers individualized attention because they all had different capabilities. Nelson Mandela had a special gift of easily engaging his followers and earning their trust, thus the reason the movement to end apartheid was successful.
Reports indicate that Mandela developed the vision of a united South Africa that was free of racial segregation as a young man when he joined the African National Congress in 1942 (Mandela, 2014). At the time, he spearheaded a peaceful campaign against the actions of the government because of the harsh manner in which it was treating its people. Within a short time, Mandela had managed to mobilize millions of South Africans to support him in the cause that he made them believe would make their country a better place for everyone. Even though he knew the movement would bring him a lot of trouble, he was not intimidated and remained strong throughout. Nelson Mandela had a good comprehension of his followers, and their quest to live in a free and democratic society (Mandela, 2014). When he was jailed, Mandela continued to work on his cause and gained a lot of support from the international community. His commitment to the fight against the apartheid rule culminated in him being inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa in 1994. According to leadership experts, Nelson Mandela was a social architect who demonstrated a great ability to engage his followers by actively participating in all the activities, thus earning their trust easily for the sake of achieving the common goal of an inclusive society (Mandela, 2014).
Leadership is a very crucial element of success in every organization, entity, or group. One of the most important elements of effective leadership is the ability of a leader to earn the support and trust of all followers in a bid to achieve collective goals. Research has established that transformational leaders are more effective compared to other types of leaders because of their charismatic nature and willingness to take risks. Besides, they have a great ability to have close relations with all followers, thus making it easy for them to offer support whenever they have a cause. Nelson Mandela is one of the globally acclaimed leaders that perfectly exemplified the concept of transformational leadership. His commitment to the fight against the end of apartheid earned him global admiration because of the way it helped in transforming South Africa.
Dugan, J.P. (2017). Leadership theory: Cultivating critical perspectives. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Harrison, C. (2017). Leadership theory and research: A critical approach to new and existing paradigms. New York, NY: Springer.
Lussier, R.N., & Achua, C.F. (2015). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development. New York, NY: Cengage learning.
Mandela, Nelson. (2014). The illustrated long walk to freedom: The autobiography of Nelson Mandela. New York, NY: Little Brown.
Miner, J.B. (2015). Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. New York, NY: Routledge.
Nongard, R. (2014). Transformational leadership: How to lead from your strengths and maximize your impact. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Rahman, M.M. (2016). Leadership: Analysis of trait, behavior, and contingency theories. New York, NY: GRIN Publishing.
Sperry, L. (2013). Effective leadership: Strategies for maximizing executive productivity and health. New York, NY: Routledge.