There are plenty of people who embellish their resumes and LinkedIn profiles with buzzwords such as “transformational leadership strengths” without a true understanding of what those words mean. And when it comes to transformational leadership, a lack of understanding could cost your company excellent employees—and money.

What Is A Transformational Leader, You Ask?

Transformational leaders are managers who rely on communication, charisma, adaptability, and empathy to build connections with their employees and implement effective change.

In contrast, tactical leaders focus on solving straightforward problems, and strategic leaders focus on the future with visionary expertise in forecasting trends.

Think of the transformational leader as the glue between the day-to-day tactical and long-range planning strategic leaders. They can focus on an organization’s culture and the guardian of employee morale.

Focusing On Competencies V. Interpersonal Skills

Many organizations are too narrowly focused on day-to-day job competencies when making decisions about who to hire or promote into leadership roles. As a result, employers may focus on an employee’s past performance and knowledge of essential job functions rather than their ability to manage and lead others.

This is a mistake.

Competencies are essential, but interpersonal and soft skills contribute to performance, development, and success across the board at an organization.

For example, say you have an employee who starts at a company as a graphic designer. After several years, they may be promoted to senior designer and, ultimately, art director. The assumption is that someone in the role of art director should have mastered the basics of graphic design and be fully competent in everything it takes to complete the job effectively. However, someone who is skilled in design and understands the company’s processes may not know how to lead and manage other employees.

In fact, according to The Ken Blanchard Companies, 58% of managers said they didn’t receive any management training when they were promoted.

Companies that focus more on developing competencies in their managers instead of interpersonal skills are likely to confuse their leaders and diminish the organization’s overall effectiveness.

According to a 2018 Udemy study, 60% of employees think managers need more manager training, and 56% believe companies promote people too quickly.

“The single biggest decision you make in your job—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager,” Gallup CEO Jim Clifton said. “When you name the wrong person (a) manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits—nothing.”

7 Key Transformational Leadership Strengths

Gallup researchers recently conducted a study involving more than 550 job roles and 360 unique job competencies. The results showed that transformational leaders achieve success, despite varied roles, organizations, and industries, by focusing on these interpersonal skills.

transformational leadership1. Build Relationships

Leaders must establish connections with their employees to build trust, share ideas and accomplish company goals and initiatives. According to Gallup, building trust is the foundation for leading. Building trust is done through honest communication, clarity of message, and behavioral predictability: “Leaders must adopt the trait of trustworthiness and prioritize it as one of their most important skills—because, without it, people won’t feel as confident to follow.”

develop people2. Develop People

Transformational leaders help others become more effective through strengths development, clear expectations, encouragement, and coaching. One way to do this is to leverage CliftonStrengths, which helps leaders understand how an employee’s natural abilities can be optimized for their role. In addition, CliftonStrengths uses a common language people understand to help them channel their strengths to overcome hurdles and reach their goals and empowers employees to team up with others in areas that aren’t their strengths.

3. Lead Change

Transformational leaders recognize that change is essential, set goals for change, and lead purposeful efforts to adapt work that aligns with the organization’s vision. According to Gallup, one of the most important things leaders can do is encourage team members to believe in a better future with a clear direction in mind, leading them in the right direction.

inspire others4. Inspire Others

According to the University of Massachusetts Global nonprofit, transformational leaders “articulate a unified vision that encourages team members to exceed expectations.” They recognize that employees with a strong sense of purpose are the most driven. These leaders aren’t afraid to put their people on the spot. They can impart significance to the tasks at hand while being hopeful about future ambitions. Inspirational leaders encourage others through positivity, vision, confidence, challenge, and recognition.

think critically5. Think Critically

Effective transformational leaders seek information, critically evaluate it, apply the knowledge gained, and solve problems. Furthermore, transformational leaders challenge assumptions, seek input from team members, and foster an environment where failure creates learning opportunities and employees feel free to have diverse perspectives and opinions.  

communicate clearly6. Communicate Clearly

Another strength of transformational leaders is their ability to listen, share information concisely and purposefully, and be open to hearing divergent opinions from the team. But data show that employees largely think that their managers are ineffective communicators. According to Predictive Index’s “2021 People Management Report,” the No. 1 skill employees say their manager lacks effective communication, followed by driving team morale, providing feedback, task delegation, and confidence.


7. Create Accountability

Finally, transformational leaders understand how to identify the consequences of different actions and hold themselves and others responsible for the overall organizational performance. The CliftonStrengths System is designed to help managers and leaders understand their individual strengths and the strengths of the people they are leading to increase self-awareness and develop the interpersonal skills they need to connect, motivate, coach, and develop others.  

Questions About Implementing Transformational Leadership?

If this sounds good, but you’re not sure how to implement this type of program, schedule a Complimentary Discovery Call to learn how to foster transformational leadership at