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Transformational Leadership

October 23, 2007

What is it?

How does a leader get everyone performing to their potential? What is the relationship between leadership and management? What are the attributes of the transformational leader? Finally, what conclusions can be drawn about the usefulness of transformational leadership?

Since James MacGregor Burns coined the terms transformational and transactional leadership, (Leadership, 1978) it might be useful to look at his definitions. Burns wrote, “I define leadership as leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations-the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations-of both leaders and followers.” Burns insists that for leaders to have the greatest impact on those “led,” they must motivate followers to action by appealing to shared values and by satisfying their aspirations and expectations.

Burns and much of the current literature make the point that the way leaders influence followers is based on their shared sense of what is important, worth doing well, and expending energy on it. To sum up these ideas, such leadership occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. Their purposes, which might have started out as separate but related, become fused. The goals, then, take on a life of their own. In business, this leads to market domination and profit.

To be effective now and in the future, almost all of the leadership literature and my personal experiences agree that people can not be treated like sheep; blindly herded from place to place. Their expertise, experience and intuition need to be encouraged if challenging situations are to be negotiated successfully.  Most organizational leaders agree that their organizations need to put systems in place where employee’s intellectual capital is nurtured, developed, and more directly rewarded.

Enterprise of tomorrow and beyond must encourage individuals to be comfortable with uncertainty and willing to make decisions with less than perfect information. Of course, high performing organizations want all their people, leaders and followers, contributing to their maximum potential-to give their all for the good of the organization. How do you get there from here?

Values are internalized so deeply that they define personality and behavior as well as consciously and unconsciously held attitudes. They have become an expression of both conscience and consciousness. Hence, holders of values will often follow the dictates of these values in the absence of incentives, sanctions, or even witnesses.

In the final analysis, transformational leadership should fuse the leader’s vision so strongly in the follower, that both are motivated by high moral and ethical principles, rising above self interest to perform their duties for the GOOD of the enterprise and themselves.

How do leaders develop the bonds necessary to make transformational leadership possible?

  • First is idealized influence. Genuine trust must be built between leaders and followers in true transformational leadership.
  • Secondly is inspirational motivation. The leader’s appeal to what is right and needs to be done provides the impetus for all to move forward.
  • Next, is intellectual stimulation, which helps followers to question assumptions and to generate more creative solutions to problems.
  • Lastly, is individual consideration.  Treating each follower as an individual and providing coaching, mentoring and growth opportunities naturally propels followers to further achievement and growth.
  • Transformational leaders concentrate on terminal values such as integrity and fairness.
  • The transformational leaders increase the awareness of what is right, good, important, and beautiful, when they help to elevate follower’s needs for achievement and self-actualization, and also to set the proper example to followers.  Communicated correctly, both leader and follower are more emotionally satisfied.    
  • Leadership and follower-ship in transformistic organizations are predicated less on positional authority and more on interdependent work relationships centered on common purposes.
  • When organizational participants are empowered to act as effective leaders and followers based on core values and a unifying purpose, the potential for unprecedented advances and exceptional outcomes are greatly enhanced.

The ingredients necessary for transformational leadership to occur may be summarized in a variety of ways. In my mind, it seems obvious that one of the most important characteristics of a great leader is his/her ability to make sound judgments and good decisions based on their internalized vision. Simply put, the below ten tenets may be a useful summation of this paper:

  1. Leaders have high moral and ethical values.
  2. Leaders express genuine interest in followers.
  3. Leaders have an inspirational vision.
  4. Genuine trust exists between leaders and followers
  5. Followers share leader’s values and vision.
  6. Leaders and followers perform beyond self-interest.
  7. Participatory decision-making is the rule.
  8. Innovative thinking and action is expected.
  9. Motivation is to do the right thing.
  10. Leaders mentor.

Thus, the goal of transformational leaders is to inspire followers to share the leader’s values and connect with the leader’s vision through genuine concern the leaders have for the followers and the total trust given in return to the leaders by the followers. Leaders exhort followers to support the leader’s vision by sharing ideas, imagination, talents, and labor to reach agreement and attain virtuous goals for the greater common good of the leaders, followers, and the organization, thereby achieving genuine satisfaction.  Authentic transformational leadership, because of all the reasons mentioned above, raises leaders above their self-interest and short-circuits pseudo-transformational leadership tendencies. Management in the end codifies the changes and puts in the administrative structures necessary to solidify their maintenance.

In conclusion, the merits of transformational leadership should speak for themselves. In light of the ambiguous strategic environment, it would appear to be obvious that organizations require leaders and followers steeped in the same core values and energized to tackle the tough issues together. When leaders and followers are on the same strategic page all their energy is focused to achieve maximum results with less oversight, because the leader has articulated the target goal so everyone understands the direction to move toward.


JL White International, Inc.

444 Pearl Street, Suite E-1

Monterey  CA 93940 



Change of Date!!

August 20, 2007

Hello Blogosphere!

I have been so busy promoting my book, What’s My Purpose on the radio over the past month.  We have had a great response to the book so far.  I have done so many great interviews, more archives are coming soon.  Check back often to hear the buzz.

I also wanted to be sure to update you on some date changes for my first What’s My Purpose Intensive Weekend and What’s My Purpose Certification Program.  Due to overwhelming demand for these Events, I had no choice but to push the dates back a bit so we could get everyone in!

The Intensive Weekend will now be taking place on October 26, 27, 28, 2007 in Carmel, CA and our Certification has been moved to December 6, 7, 8, 2007 in Carmel, CA.  Complete venue details will be announced shortly!

We are still taking applications, so please visit www.whatsmypurpose.com today to find out more information and register for your spot today! 

Exciting Events!

July 13, 2007

We have so many exciting up and coming events to tell you about.  As you may already know, Jim White is not only the President and CEO of JL White International, a business management and consulting firm, and host of the Circle of Success® Radio Show, but he is also the author of a great new book, What’s My Purpose? A Journey of Personal and Professional Growth.  What’s My Purpose started as a workshop in 1991, and has been so successful in helping people achieve their dreams, that Jim decided to make the knowledge and tools available to the world.  His goal is to make the process available to no less than 1,000,000 people worldwide. 

Due to overwhelming demand for more, it is a pleasure to announce the very first What’s My Purpose Intensive Weekend in Carmel, CA from September 21st – 23rd, 2007.  This will be a great chance for everyone who has purchased the book to be led through the exercises and techniques by the author himself, with the goal of discovering their purpose.  The first Intensive Weekend is being offered at a very special price, but only if you sign up before July 30th, 2007! Go to www.whatsmypurpose.com to check it out!

We are also launching our What’s My Purpose Certification Program in Carmel, CA from October 26th 28th, 2007. This program is for speakers and coaches to learn how to transform their lives and take that knowledge and transform the lives of others, improving their own bottom line in the process.  The Certification Program will also teach them how to get booked as a What’s My Purpose leader, and coach.  Right now we are offering this program for a reduced fee, but only if you go to www.whatsmypurpose.com and register before August 31st, 2007

And if that isn’t enough, Jim is going to be doing a radio tour of the country shortly promoting What’s My Purpose and the wonderful programs associated with the book and it’s teachings.  Please check back frequently, as we will be posting information about where Jim is going to be next. Tell your friends!

Hello world!

June 29, 2007

Circle of Success Radio

I first want to talk about the purpose of my new radio show, Circle of Success Radio.  From reading the About Us Page, you will know that the show’s goals are to educate and inspire and bring light to all sorts of worthy causes, but what does that really mean? I’ve made it my goal in life to educate and inspire people all over the world.  That’s the reason I wrote my new book, what’s My Purpose? A Journey of Personal and Professional Growth.  I wanted to help people put some feet behind the dreams.  It’s great to visualize yourself doing what you love, but how do you get there?  My book guides you through the process….the journey. 

I also want to have interesting guests on my show.  People who have done great things, not just in business but in life.  People who have found their passion, know their purpose and are living their dream.  Some of our upcoming guests will include Rick Frishman, Jack Canfield, Lynne Joy McFarland, Chris and Janet Attwood,  Debbie Bermont, and Doug Keeley. 

Please visit my site often, keep in contact with me, and let me know what matters to you and what you would like to hear.  My goal is to make this radio show about what you want it to be about!