It's a simple question with a not-so-simple answer: How does a leader transform an organization? According to researcher Bernard M. Bass, transformational leaders "garner trust, respect and admiration from their followers."

It starts with having a vision, which helps establish the direction the organization should strive to achieve. The next step is taking that vision and formulating a strategy, which is an organization's compass and helps to keep on course. These are the first steps toward achieving goals, which a strategy calculates.

A leader must be able to build trust, not only with his or her team but also with others throughout the organization. This trust is built upon the common goals that are established through the vision and strategy.

How does a leader build this trust in order for the vision and strategy to come alive? According to best-selling leadership expert John Maxwell, "Leadership is influence — nothing more, nothing less."

Respect and trust are the cornerstones upon which a leader motivates and inspires. Maxwell states, "People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves." This is the due to the qualities the leader possesses, like empowering and valuing others. Transformational leaders have a positive attitude toward others, and this is reflected throughout the organization.

An important aspect of transformational leaders is to promote change. And to do so, they must get all parties to buy into the effort. "Every message that people receive is filtered through the messenger who delivers it," Maxwell writes. "A leader's message has to be both credible and valuable to win over the organization."

Having a vision, respect and influence with others is great, but another crucial aspect of leadership is momentum. If you cannot get the organization to move in a certain direction, then your leadership is at a standstill. Getting all parties to participate willingly will help in getting the organization to its goals.

Sometimes effective change simply requires the right timing. "Good leaders recognize that when to lead is as important as what to do and where to go," Maxwell states. Leadership timing has several aspects:

  • Understanding the situation before it gets out of hand.
  • Confidence in his/her abilities, and people will follow because of this confidence.
  • Decisiveness in the decision-making process.
  • Experience, which includes others who posses that wisdom.
  • Preparation in making sure the right conditions exists.

Ultimately, transformation must start within the leader. He or she must want to motivate, inspire and get the proper respect. These are key areas that any leader needs to help an organization work through both the good and bad times it must face. Transformational leadership is one that any organization would be glad to have.