The ingredients necessary for transformational leadership to occur may be summarized in a variety of ways. In the author’s mind, it seems obvious that one of the most important characteristics of a great leader is his/her ability to make sound judgements and good decisions based on their internalized vision. A leader who can make reasoned judgements and decisions in the context of the ideas embodied in this paper surely would be successful. At the risk of oversimplification, the below ten tenets may be a useful summation of this paper:
- Leaders have high moral and ethical values.
- Leaders express genuine interest in followers.
- Leaders have an inspirational vision.
- Genuine trust exists between leaders and led.
- Followers share leader’s values and vision.
- Leaders and followers perform beyond self-interest.
- Participatory decision-making is the rule.
- Innovative thinking and action is expected.
- Motivation is to do the right thing.
- 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. This connection is manifested through the genuine concern the leaders have for their followers and the followers giving their trust in return. 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 good of the leaders, followers, and the organization. Both leaders and followers rise above their self-interests for the betterment of all, and both achieve 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. But it is through the leader’s hard work that followers come to share the leader’s goals and values to transcend their self-interest and accomplish the mission.
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 most large organizations, the federal government, the military, and the Air Force require leaders and followers steeped in the same core values and energized to tackle the tough issues together. When transformational leaders are connected with their followers great things can happen. When leaders and led 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. To put this into the context of combat, below is an excerpt from an Army officer in Afghanistan. It is an example at the tactical level but the hope is that it would follow at the strategic level as well: