Transformational leadership – why is it still relevant?

By Jasmine Luethi April 14, 2023

Transformational leadership dates back to the 1980s. The core idea of transformational leadership is to communicate attractive visions to employees and to convincingly communicate how goals can be achieved together. This stimulates an inner transformation that positively affects employees‘ self-confidence and commitment (Bass & Avolio, 1990; Felfe, 2006).

What characterizes a transformational leader?

  • The leader acts as a moral and professional role model and shows trust and respect for employees.
  • The leader inspires with attractive and convincing visions and shows optimism and commitment.
  • The leader inspires employees to think innovatively by encouraging employees to question previous behaviours and encouraging them to try out creative approaches to solutions.
  • The leader sees himself as a coach, recognizes the personal needs of employees and systematically promotes them.

 Is transformational leadership still relevant today?

Globalization, digitalization, and increasing competition are leading to an increasing dynamic of change in today’s work environment. In addition, the individualization of work is leading to a growing need for flat hierarchies, autonomy and self-actualization on the part of employees. These changes create new challenges for leaders.

The concept of transformational leadership is change-oriented and thus remains relevant today. In the flexible and rapidly changing world of work, transformational leaders could be particularly successful in bringing about change and achieving outstanding performance together with their employees. In this way, transformational leadership can reduce resistance to change on the part of employees and encourage employees to identify with new organizational developments. Various recent studies show that transformational leadership is a success factor in today’s working environment. Transformational leadership not only increases the motivation and trust of employees, but also their job satisfaction and creativity. Furthermore, transformational leadership increases identification with the company, which can counteract fluctuation. At the same time, it can reduce stress and thus contribute to the health and well-being of employees (Ng, 2017; Purbs, 2022). 


Transformational leadership focuses on transforming employees‘ motives and aims to promote independent thinking. Thus, on the one hand, it meets the increasing dynamics of change in today’s working world, which demands flexible and agile responses from companies. On the other hand, it also incorporates the demand for more self-determination and self-realization at work. A transformational leadership culture can therefore promote the success of the company (Ng, 2017; Purbs, 2022)


Bass, B. M. & Avolio, B. J. (1990). Transformational leadership development: Manual for the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Felfe, J. (2006). Transformationale und charismatische Führung – Stand der Forschung und aktuelle Entwicklungen. Zeitschrift für Personalpsychologie, 5(4), 163-176.

Ng, T. W. H. (2017). Transformational leadership and performance outcomes: Analyses of multiple mediation pathways. The Leadership Quarterly, 28(3), 385-417.

Purbs, A. (2022). Arbeit und Führung in der digitalen Transformation–Eine Empirische Untersuchung zu Transformationaler Führung und Psychologischem Kapital als Erfolgsfaktoren der digitalen Arbeit. Heidelberg: Universität Heidelberg

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