Executive Master of Leadership Blog

Transformational Leadership Style: 7 Traits Of Transformative Leaders

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 7, 2018 12:34:50 PM / by Anna Montgomery, MPA


Transformational leaders need to be disruptive innovators, willing to adapt to the unknown territory ahead. From the C-Suites to the front lines, the skills required to succeed involve the ability to take calculated risks, innovate, collaborate, and engage in authentic leadership.

Leadership Styles: Identifying your Style Explainer Video

Learn about the six different leadership styles from the Executive Master of Leadership program's Leadership Style Self-Assessment.



Seven Traits of Transformational Leaders

1. Curiosity

Great leaders are not required to be the most intelligent person in an organization. It is their curiosity rather than their intelligence that drives them to find innovative solutions to long understood problems. When the time comes to implement a solution, they lean on experts on their team to bring their vision to fruition.

2. Communicative

Like Dr. Sample's contrarian leadership style, one must do leadership 24/7/365 and not just be a leader in name only.  Transformational leaders are effective communicators. They understand how immediate threats can impact growth, communicate solutions explicitly, and are able to frame their decisions in the context of the team's shared vision of success.

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3. Visionary

Transformational leaders use their keen perception to look toward a better future and see the small obstacles hindering smooth execution. They intuitively sense where the direction their organization needs to move in order to compete within their sector.  Transformational leaders can be seen as critical because they care. Transformational leaders recognize that even the smallest detail can cause a major setback.

4. Team First Attitude

Transformational leaders follow through on a shared vision by engaging all team members. They leverage emotional intelligence to understand interpersonal dynamics to drive individual and collective performance. When the team succeeds, transformational leaders receive gratification by giving credit to the team first and watching individuals rise to the occasion.

5. Simplicity

Transformational leaders speak clearly and communicate concisely to articulate their vision. For teams to achieve seemingly insurmountable goals they must be intensely focused on the task before them. Simplicity provides structure and enables staff to execute without confusion.

6. Charismatic

Charisma is essential for transformational leaders because it is their responsibility to rally team members around a shared vision of a better future. Transformational leaders express charisma by listening, being present, giving praise when things go right, taking responsibility when things go wrong, and providing constructive criticism to team members.

7. Tolerance for Risk

There is no ordinary path to innovation. There is no safe route leading through disruptive change. Transformational leaders understand that calculated risk taking is a necessary and integral part of their job. Transformational leaders lean on their innate curiosity to seek out new approaches, they rely on research, seek counsel from experts, and act assertively when opportunities are discovered. 

Whether you see yourself as a Vanguard leader, a Front-line leader, a Postmodern leader or a Transformational leader, building your capacity for leadership, honing your business skills, and enhancing your communication and relationship building competencies will prepare you for an rewarding private, public, nonprofit, or emergency service career.

Topics: Leadership Styles

Anna Montgomery, MPA

Written by Anna Montgomery, MPA

Anna Montgomery earned her MPA at USC Price and is pursuing her EdD at USC Rossier.

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