Transformational and Charismatic Leadership

How do transformational and charismatic leaders lead?

Transformational Leadership transforms the employees’ emotions and beliefs to enhance their commitments and capabilities to achieve business goals. It focuses on improving motivation and engagement of employees. The leaders lead by examples and motivate through shared values (Jiang, Zhao and Ni, 2017).

Figure one shows the four dimensions of transformational leadership. Transformational leaders trust, engage and share a vision to motivate the followers. Furthermore, they promote innovation and motivate followers to challenge themselves and care about followers’ needs (Kharabe and Joseph, 2016).

Motivation Theories

Figure 2: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Pichere and Cadiat, 2015)
Figure 3: Summary of the Factors in Herzberg’s Theory
(Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl and Maude, 2017)

Maslow’s pyramid on figure two defines the human’s needs from the most basic level to the more fulfilling stage. It offers a simple and effective way of identifying different needs (Pichere and Cadiat, 2015). Figure three shows that hygiene factors are linked to the avoidance of unpleasantness. Also, motivation factors which lead to job satisfaction due to self-growth and self-actualization’s needs (Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl and Maude, 2017).

How do Transformational Leaders Motivate?

Steve Jobs displayed transformational leadership. He used inspirational motivation to promote creativity, innovation and create products that we were not even aware we required. The qualities of Jobs’ leadership were his adaptability, decision-making ability and risks taking (Shawn, 2015).

Steve Job fulfilled the needs of his employees by providing self-esteem and appreciation. He motivated his followers by taking his top 100 employees on holiday retreat (Carlson, 2014). He also recorded down every employees’ ideas. Larry Kenyon who worked on Macintosh system complained to Jobs that the system took too long to start up. Subsequently, Jobs explained to the engineers how important to have a system that boot up in less than 30 seconds. The next day, Kenyon developed a system that started up 28 seconds faster. He motivated the team to have self-actualization and achievement. Furthermore, He also took care of the hygiene factors by providing excellent working conditions and great benefits which reflects Maslow Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg’s theory (Elliot, 2012).

How do Charismatic leaders inspire?

Charisma is an important part of transformational leadership. Charismatic leaders inspire followers to achieve stretched goals and the strongly motivated followers display high levels of innovation and creativity. Charismatic leadership is more likely to happen in ambiguity and stressful environment (Paulsen, et al, 2009). They promote cooperation through encouraging ideas and involve the followers in decision making process. Furthermore, they encourage team innovation by creating a sense of team commitment and identity. A team with strong team identity with cooperative behaviours are more innovative (Nikoloski, 2015).

The bankruptcy of Enron revealed that many of its leaders were guilty of fraud. The leaders were known as charismatic and they used inspiration to motivate and engaged the employees (Eckhaus, 2017). The employees had intense faith in their leaders and were made convinced that they were the most innovative and the brightest in the world. Excellence to them was to continuously create new products and services. The leaders achieved it by promoting an inspirational vision, displaying individual consideration, and creating a stimulating and stressful environment (Tourish, 2013). These highly intrinsically motivated employees were engaged in high levels of innovative behaviors. The leaders increased team efficiency as they inspired confidence in their abilities, inspired a belief in the team and strongly engaged their value systems (Paulsen, et al, 2009).

Although transformational leadership is creating a lot of positive impacts, there is a dark side as depicted in Enron’s case. Inauthentic transformational leaders could be manipulative and abusive of power. Therefore, personality is a critical component as the leaders could influence the employees for his personal goals than for the common goals. Moreover, if leaders within the same organization have different goals would lead to uncertainty and conflicting interests (Khan, et al., 2020).


Employ motivation is extremely important to achieve organization competitive advantage. It can be achieved by transformational and charismatic leadership (Aunjum, Abbas, and Sajid, 2017). There are many criticisms pointed that transformational leadership does not constantly influence positively on employee motivation (Kharabe and Joseph, 2016).

I believe if the leaders could perform their leadership role effectively and are authentic, they could create positive impact on employee motivation. It is important for the leaders to enhance employee’s intrinsic motivation through sharing the organizational goals and value the employees’ contribution (Ramesh and Hedge, 2017). It is necessary for them to understand their employees well, train and guide them so that the employees can be inspired to achieve outstanding results. In addition, by providing empowerment and get people into groups, the leaders can inspire innovation and creativity (Acharya, 2018). Hence, the motivation and wellbeing of a group will be increased through excellent connection. Although some leaders are born, it is still essential to provide leadership training, coaching and resources to enable them to lead effectively (Jyoti, 2015).


Acharya, N., Sharma, A., Nitishbhai, D.A. and Chowdhaury, A. (2018) ‘The Impact of Transformational Leadership on Motivation and Performance of the Followers’. Elk Asia Pacific Journal of Leadership and Innovation Management 4 (2), 1-8

Alshmemri, M., Shahwan-Akl, L. and Maude, P. (2017) ‘Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory’. Life Science Journal 14 (5), 12-16

Aunjum, A. H.,Abbas, G. and Sajid, M. (2017) ‘Transformational Leadership and Employee Motivation in Banking Sector of Pakistan’. Advances in Economics and Business 5 (9), 487-494

Carlson, N. (2014) This email reveals Steve Job’s secret plan (online) available from [accessed on 12 April 2021]

Eckhaus, E. (2017) ‘A Shift in Leadership’. Academy of Strategic Management Journal 16 (1), 19-31

Elliot, J. (2012) Leading Apple with Steve Jobs: Management Lessons from a Controversial Genius. UK: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated

Jiang, W., Zhao, X. and Ni, J. (2017) ‘The Impact of Transformational Leadership on Employee Sustainable Performance: The Mediating Role of Organizational Citizenship Behavior’. Sustainability 9 (1), 1-17

Jyoti, J. M. D. (2015) ’The impact of transformational leadership on employee creativity: the role of learning orientation’. Journal of Asia Business Studies 9 (1), 78–98

Kharabe, R. and Joseph, J. (2016) ‘Transformational Leadership: Its Influence on Employee Motivation’. International Journal of Commerce and Management Studies 1 (2), 2456-3684

Khan, H., Rehmat, M., Butt, T. H., Farooqi, S. and Asim, J. (2020) ‘Impact of transformational leadership on work performance, burnout and social loafing: a mediation model’. Future Business Journal 6 (40), 1-13

Nikoloski, K. (2015) ‘Charismatic and Power: Using the Power of Charisma for better Leadership in the Enterprises’. Journal of Process Management – New Technologies, International 3 (2), 18-26

Paulsen, N., Maldonado, D., Callan, V. J., & Ayoko, O. (2009) ‘Charismatic leadership, change and innovation in an R&D organization’. Journal of Organizational Change Management 22 (5), 511-523

Pichere, P. and Cadiat, A-C. (2015) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Gain Vital Insights into How to Motivate People. UK: Lemaitre Publishing

Ramesh, R. S. and Hedge, M. (2017) ‘The Impact of Transformational and Transactional Leadership on Organizational Performance-References in Literature’. Indian Journal of Research 6 (3), 552-554

Shawn, K. (2015) Steve Jobs and Philosophy: For Those Who Think Different. UK: Open Court

Tourish, D. (2013) The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership: A Critical Perspective. UK: Taylor & Francis Group

4 thoughts on “Transformational and Charismatic Leadership

  1. I like your article. I am going to use it in my kick off meeting tomorrow if anyone asks me why my organisation chart is not hierarchical…I shall answer them I want to use transformational leadership in managing my team.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed besides motivation, understanding employees well and providing them with empowerment do go hand in hand, for leaders to achieve excellence in connection. Lots of good information here and great tips as always!


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