6 Key Characteristics of a Transformational Leader



By Dr. Theresa Bullard


Have you ever been in a situation where someone spoke so clearly and passionately that everyone in the room stopped to listen more closely? Perhaps suddenly the room took on an energy of agreement and excitement as all became united under the inspiring ideas and vision of the one speaking?


Clapping Business People


That person was displaying a leadership style known as transformational leadership, one that uses authentic presence, vision and inspiration to motivate others.


In our last blog, we identified 4 Essential Steps to Becoming a Transformational Leader.   This week, we look at what are the Key Qualities of a Transformational Leader.  We’ve identified 6 distinct characteristics that make up a modern day Transformational Leader:


#1  Embrace Transformation


Businessman with illuminated light bulb concept for idea, innova


This one may seem obvious but in order to be a transformational leader, you must be someone who adopts a philosophy of moving towards change, rather than avoiding or resisting it.


Even more, transformational leaders thrive on change and get excited by the prospects of evolving a system or organization into something even better.  Transformational leaders are skilled at harnessing the process of change and driving it forward both intentionally and skillfully.  This means they have the skill set to evolve or progress an organization, idea or philosophy more rapidly.


#2  Personal Growth


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Another key characteristic of a Transformational Leader is their ability and openness to grow.


According to the Georgetown University’s Transformational Leadership Institute, Transformational Leaders, “Grow and expand as human beings even as they lead extraordinary outcomes for their communities and organizations. This trait is also about Expanding Consciousness and Self-Awareness.  In other words, moving beyond just focusing on the material side of things and tuning in more to the core self and essential nature of being human.


#3  Transparency & Authenticity


Silhouettes of Business People's Different Activities Outdoors


Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability.


It refers to operating in such a way that it is easy to for others to see what actions are being performed.  Authenticity refers to truthfulness, sincerity, devotion and intention.  Transformational Leaders are ones who lead by example.  They bring authentic presence, integrity, vision, and compassion into their role as a leader.


#4  Empowerment & Engaged Action


Speaker at Business Conference and Presentation.


Transformational Leaders possess the Courage and Confidence to take a stand for their beliefs and vision.


They also generate the needed clarity and inspiration to get commitment from others to unite behind the effort.  Transformational Leaders are not afraid to push their ideas forward, even in the face of adversity, challenge, and risk.


#5  Integrity & Accountability


Male Professional Choosing Integrity By Clicking The Button


Integrity, or the concept of consistency around actions, values, principles and outcomes, as well as, Accountability or answerability, are fundamental characteristics of a Transformational Leader.


This trait refers to taking Personal Ownership and “Walking the Talk”, both by being the example, as well as holding that line with those you lead.


#6  Self-Actualization


Everything Is Possible


Transformative Leaders are self-actualizing people. They recognize that creativity, innovation, initiative, and an organization’s ability to thrive, rest upon its core values that come from this deeper pursuit of meaning.  


As the great psychologist Abraham Maslow declared, “What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization…It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”


Enjoyment - free happy woman enjoying sunset. Beautiful woman in


True leadership requires the ability to inspire, motivate and ultimately transform us.


The modern day Transformational Leader is one who skillfully embraces change, values and strives towards personal growth and is clear and authentic with their intentions, actions and words.  Transformational Leaders take a stand for what they believe in.




They empower and engage others to come together and collectivity move toward a shared goal and vision.


A true Transformational Leader leads by example, always acting with integrity and holding themselves and others accountable for their actions. Rather than command-style, these leaders are transformative and empowering.  Finally, Transformational Leaders are motivated to realize their potential.  They are self-actualizing. Self-actualizing people are driven by a quest for meaning and a deep passion to become what they have the potential to become.


Stay tuned next week as we dive deeper into what it means to be a Transformational Leader by looking at their core values.



This entry was posted by Jessica on September 25, 2014 at 9:00 am, and is filed under Leadership. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.Both comments and pings are currently closed.