The Four “I’s” of Every Transformational Leader

A few weeks ago something extraordinary happened to me! For the first time after several years working in a big corporation I felt the presence of a real leader, not just another manager.

During months we were facing a real challenge at work and the team’s frustration was quite high. This person was capable of creating an amazing reaction in the people present in the room, giving us a really powerful and motivational speech.

Half an hour later everybody left the room looking to each other and saying: “Yes, let’s do that right now, let’s go for it”. Impressive.

To give you an idea of what I am talking about watch this video.

The experience shows that transformational leaders are really rare, and usually businesses are run by what we define as managers: people with a list of objectives to accomplish, really skilled at defining, giving and following actions, making pressure to make sure that these are done.

In many cases, businesses can be driven by managers, but what really makes the different are leaders, those people capable of inspiring others and make people follow them, even in very adverse situations.

Impressed by this high motivational moment, my curiosity about leadership styles increased. And I found out a great subject called transformational leadership.

The following list describes the four common behaviors of transformational leaders.

  1.  Individual influence.

Transformational leaders are capable of transmitting a message to each individual person in their team. They spread enthusiasm and integrity, acting as a role model. They have one or more characteristics which make them really authentic, without caring about what others think about them. They are really good at setting real life examples which make people identify with them.

This behavior can be summarized with the word “Identify”.

2. Inspiration.

These leaders are capable of leveraging the meaning of goals and tasks. They inspire emotionally, touching the deepest inside of the people in their team. They give the meaning of achieving goals, explaining the personal reasons to achieve them, not just because it is required by the organization (as it would be presented by a manager). They are capable of communicating an attractive vision, a dream: “by scoring those points you will enter in the list of the world’s most recognized football players…” And really important: they appreciate the job done by their people.

This is the second I: “Inspire”.

3. Intellectual stimulation.

In other words: capacity to challenge their people. They question old ways of doing things, imparting new perspectives. They are auto critic, making their followers understand that they are all at the same level and transmitting that success depends on each and every individual. They adequate complexity, telling their people that only the best can achieve the goal, and this accomplishment depends only on them. They challenge the status-quo.

This behavior is summarized with: “Intellectual”.

   4. Individual treatment.

Contrary to what managers usually do, transformational leaders develop each employee individually, with full credibility. They understand their employees’ needs and they truly care about them. They give to their followers the importance that they deserve. They don’t just save time to talk to the individual when required by the business, but also when the employee has a personal topic to discuss. They enter into real valuable dialogues, not just light talking, contributing to develop a strong relationship between leader and follower.

This is the fourth and last I: “Individual”.

The transformational leadership takes place when all the four I’s appear at the same time.

Now that you know this leadership style, are you one of these leaders?


Fernando Vilas is the founder and CEO of  Talentese, a career website whose mission is to help people discover the most attractive young companies out there. At Talentese, you can find great companies, jobs, professional coaching and high quality career advice from the best professionals. 


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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