Factors that drive transformational leaders ahead

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Some core differences exist between leadership and management. This is just as there are differences between leadership and outstanding leadership.

There is not just one way in which we can differentiate leaders from managers. Instead, there are several ways in which we can draw points of differentiation between the two.

Just to take a simple example, a leader would start with a vision. When he actualizes the mission, it could be defined as ongoing work towards a goal.

Management, on the other hand, has a lot more to do with the day-to-day execution of plans. Now, it has to be kept in mind that if one is a great leader, one has to be an excellent manager as well. But, besides management, leadership is about working towards a mission that spans far and wide.

The key distinguishing aspect between leadership and management

It is quintessential for a leader to have a transformational personality that allows him to not just influence, but also persuade his followers into buying his vision. Having these qualities will benefit a manager as well. However, the latter’s role is likely to concern executing micro tasks and ad-hoc management.

Distinguishing qualities of a transformational leader

We can now bring our focus on the factors that distinguish a leader who is truly transformational and outstanding from other leaders. Wherever we visit, we’ll come across leaders.

This could be an organization, a nation, or even a society. Upon meeting these leaders, we might come to feel that there are, but, a few instances in which truly outstanding and transformative leaders have arrived on the world stage.

Another point to be looked into, here, is that we might feel that several organizations tell us that their leadership team is stable. However, only a few organizations, among them, have the opportunity to witness transformational leadership.

If we navigate the world of technology, we see that Microsoft and Apple are a class apart. Other technology-related are not spoken of in the same breath as them, irrespective of how much profits they garner.

What sets Microsoft and Apple apart is that they were founded by two truly extraordinary individuals – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, respectively. The potential of these leaders made their organizations truly inventive and they were not afraid to drive transformation.

This example only goes to show that leadership and transformational leadership bear some differences among them. This could be the defining factor behind some organizations scaling unprecedented heights of success.

Transformational Leaders: Traits and Attributes

Let us now dwell on what distinguishes transformational leadership from leadership. It is hard to deny that all leaders are diligent and focused while being motivated and driven. However, when we discuss a truly exceptional leader, an inner strength drives them which few are blessed with.

But, this does not imply that leadership is all about innate qualities. It is about acquired and learned skills as much as it is about innate qualities. The seed of transformational leadership is present in all leaders.

So, if one aspires to be a leader, it becomes important to understand that being a transformational leader is possible. This bid calls for focus and due diligence via which, one can acquire the skills that great leaders are associated with.

It is very frequently believed that the times and the prevailing circumstances helped create transformational leaders. There have been several cases wherein the spotlight was projected on certain leaders, whether or not they wanted so. The circumstances called upon them to rise to the occasion.

The circumstantial aspect of transformational leadership

A leader is more likely to become transformational when the occasion and the circumstances call for the same. In transformational leadership, one leads from the front upon rising to the occasion, to make sure that one delivers the goods.

We should take the example of Winston Churchill, who was the UK’s prime minister during the times of WWII. Indeed, the situations during those times were grave.

But he rallied his people and the entire nation to the cause that could not be avoided. The UK prepared itself to face the enemy.

A trait that we frequently associate with transformational leaders is that they have and demonstrate no fear of staking their reputation and future to bring success to the task at hand.

One can expect a transformational leader to never give up. When tough decisions encounter them, they do not pass the baton or walk away. Instead, they take on the tough circumstances head-on.

Another example that we should not miss is that of Barack Obama, the former president of the USA.

Throughout his Presidency, Obama demonstrated the willingness to stake his reputation and legacy on key initiatives such as Immigration Reform and the Health Care Act. This was even as the odds were stacked against him. Obama was committed to ensuring social justice.

When we take a look at the tenures of President Obama and President Clinton, they are characterized by ongoing hostility on the part of Republicans. But, they get the credit for delivering the goods even in the face of the difficulties encountered.

If one is a transformational leader, one would have clarity of mind regarding right and wrong. It is a moral certainty that drives their decision-making.

We should also go through the example of NR Narayan Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys, in this context. At all times and in all cases, Murthy stayed steadfast and stood for principles.

This was even after he retired from the organization. This just goes to show that to pursue their passions and beliefs, transformational leaders are willing to do what it takes.


Let us not forget that transformational leadership also has a lot to do with knowing when to draw the line and stop, and being willing to do so.

That’s because name and fame, adulation, and success are not the driving factors for transformational leaders. If we consider the case of Rahul Dravid, former Indian cricket captain, he knew when to draw the line and quit.

It is only right to say that transformational leaders withhold the strength within them to transform societies, nations, and the entire world besides the organizations they lead.

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