10 April 2017


The problems of a transformation process are critical issues that organisations or societies face. Most often they are related to behaviour, attitudes and culture. They are rooted in the core of organisations and therefore a thorough analysis is needed to be able to define them precisely.

"Woodrow Wilson refers to leaders who, by distinctly interpreting the national consciousness, could elevate people above their ordinary selves. This elevation of people to a better self is the key to transformational leadership." - James MacGregor Burns.

James MacGregor Burns has been considered the founder of the concept of transformational leadership since 1978. He was a presidential biographer and leadership expert who focused primarily on improving management principles and procedures.

Burns said that a Transformational leaders must possess a solid understanding of the goals necessary to achieve success and must also be very adept at communicating those goals and the methods by which they are achieved.

"In reality, change does not happen at the organisational level, but happens through people. And that is why in order to be able to lead change you have to be able to lead people', says Pamela Rucker, chairwoman of the CIO Executive Council's Executive Women in IT.

Transformational leaders are often equated with charismatic personalitiesfull of enthusiasm, optimistic, passionate and sometimes visionary, are associated with those individuals who are able to change the most ingrained perceptions and beliefs. All these traits can spread in a flash. When this happens, leaders and co-workers become poignantly involved, allowing true transformation to take place.

We follow the distinction that Kevin Ford, CIO of Tag Consulting, discusses in his book 'The Leadership Triangle' to understand the circumstances in which transformational leaders come into play:

  • Leader Tactical: solves clear and simple problems thanks to its competence and its expertise. Tactical challenges are the bread and butter of operations-oriented managers.
  • Leader Strategicis essentially a visionary and thus works towards the future. It has the ability to see into the future and predict specific trends.
  • Leader Transformative: is a facilitator that does not make decisions or define strategic plans but, instead, facilitates a series of conversations among key stakeholders. Transformational leaders are driven by strong values and a sense of mission. Strategic leaders often have the vision of the future but cannot put it into practice because they are unable to manage transformation.

To summarise, according to Ford, the key difference is that the transformational leader does not always know how things will turn out, but knows that in every case it will be an improvement on the current situation. There is a time and a space for each type of leader but if organisations want to reverse their course or avoid falling behind what they need is a transformational leader, that is, a person who with great energy e passion you challenge age-old assumptions and do not accept answers such as 'because it has always been done that way'.