Traits of a Transformational Leader at a Distance

Leadership comes in various forms, but in virtual teams, certain leadership styles have demonstrated more efficacy than others. Among these is remote transformational leadership, which possesses diamond-like qualities and is highly effective in leading a remote team to success.

What does “transformational leadership” entail in the business world?

Transformational leadership involves motivating and inspiring the team rather than micromanaging them. It fosters a culture of mutual respect and encourages employees to tap into their creativity to find innovative solutions to problems. This style of management is highly effective.

Here are the characteristics of transformative leaders:


Transformational leadership is most effective when the leader is self-managing and does not require micromanagement. Transformative leaders lead by example and act as positive role models, inspiring their team members with their own drive and enthusiasm. They are passionate about their work and strive to pass on that energy to their team.

They possess excellent communication skills.

Transformational leaders use their words to inspire others. They have a clear and open communication style, and possess exceptional listening skills that allow them to engage with all team members effectively.

Have a clear vision.

Transformational leaders have a clear understanding of the organization’s direction, and possess a clear vision and purpose, even when the means to achieve it are not immediately apparent. With their strong leadership skills and open communication channels, the team is fully committed to the success of the organization and is willing to go the extra mile.


Motivating and inspiring those around you is crucial to effective leadership. Creating an environment of success requires ensuring that every team member feels valued and appreciated. Regularly communicating the importance of each role and how it contributes to the overall mission can be a powerful tool in achieving a successful transformation.

Make difficult decisions.

Transformational leaders are highly methodical in their decision-making process. They are willing to take calculated risks and give due consideration to the consequences of their actions. They are not afraid to make tough decisions, which is an essential quality for an effective leader.

Empower your team.

Effective managers not only offer support, guidance, and feedback, but also empower their team members to make decisions and take on essential tasks. They believe that this approach will inspire employees to motivate one another.

It may seem unrealistic that fairytales can become real, yet transformational leadership comes close to achieving this. Leaders who can inspire a sense of purpose in their teams enjoy many benefits. However, are there any disadvantages to this type of leadership?

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Transformational Leadership

Business enterprises with integrity Leaders who neglect the finer points in favour of focusing on the larger picture will always fail.
As a result of this ongoing inspiration, workers are more efficient.These leaders have the ability to influence by using a command and control style of leadership.
Contributions from actively involved staffCauses exhaustion in the workplace
When people are working for the same objective, they are more likely to work together effectively.Needs regular meetings and opportunities for feedback
Groups are more effective in their communication. It might lead to tense situations in the workplace.
Promotes AlterationIt’s not applicable in all situations (especially in highly automated enterprises).

Let’s Review the “Four Elements of Transformational Leadership”

The term ‘transformational leadership’ was first used by James MacGregor Burns in his book of the same name. In the 1980s, Bernard M. Bass further developed this concept by identifying four crucial qualities for any transformational leader.

Idealized Influence

This element focuses on how transformational leaders use their charisma and magnetism to motivate their teams. By setting a clear direction, these leaders encourage their teams to work collaboratively and achieve success. This approach is characterized by a willingness to take risks and a commitment to a consistent set of values.

Inspirational Motivation (IM)

Transformational leaders foster innovation and autonomy by encouraging their teams to approach challenges with creative solutions. This approach promotes team members to be more vocal and engaged, as they feel secure in voicing their opinions without fear of reprimand.

Individualized Consideration

As a transformational leader, my goal is to establish a safe and inclusive environment where all team members are respected and valued. I take the well-being of the group seriously and act as a mentor, listening to their concerns and providing guidance when needed. My aim is to ensure that each member has the chance to reach their full potential.

Inspirational Motivation

Transformational leaders possess the ability to instill trust and enthusiasm in their teams. They must be able to effectively communicate and internalize their vision, articulating it to their followers.

Transformative Leadership in an Online Environment

There is a common assumption that achieving successful management practices in remote settings is challenging. Unfortunately, there is still a perception that employees who work from home are less committed than those who work in an office environment, and they can easily become homesick. However, it is important to note that if your team is unmotivated, the responsibility lies with the manager. For tips on managing a high-performance distributed engineering team, check out this article.

How Can Remote Leadership Transform an Organization?

Managing change from a distance can present a significant communication challenge. Remote leaders must understand how to provide their teams with efficient communication tools and strategies. Additionally, they must develop innovative ways to keep their team motivated and engaged without being physically present.

Are you interested in integrating remote leadership into your management style? If so, consider following this advice:

  • Establishing clear guidelines on communication
  • Set specific and achievable goals.
  • Uphold a positive team morale
  • Communicate with your team through video calls
  • Consider the well-being of each team member.
  • Promote open dialogue in teleconferences by incentivizing team members to voice their opinions.
  • Virtual water cooler chats

Distributed teams can benefit greatly from transformational leadership when implemented effectively. Remote leaders must prioritize the mental well-being of their teams by providing necessary resources and motivation, resulting in highly productive and inspired virtual teams. Despite the powerful impact of remote transformational leadership, many struggle to articulate its effectiveness.

Studies on the Effectiveness of Remote Transformational Leadership

The study published in the 2003 volume of the Leadership and Organization Development Journal aimed to investigate whether transformational leadership could be as successful in a virtual environment as it is in a traditional one.


The pilot project featured 132 undergraduates from a Canadian institution who had no prior leadership experience. Each participant was instructed to read a fictional e-mail exchange between an employee and their supervisor, with three different leadership styles presented in these narratives:

  1. Motivating others to initiate change
  2. Management based on exceptions
  3. Allowing things to occur organically.

The primary objective of this research was to investigate if email recipients, specifically students, could identify messages conveying leadership.

What were the results? Students were able to effectively differentiate between the different leadership styles. Among the three styles, transformational leadership exhibited the strongest correlation with heightened interpersonal justice and satisfaction.


In the second study, the objective was to assess the impact of remote transformational leadership on employee engagement and productivity in a controlled lab setting. The findings suggested that charisma and the ability to generate interest among followers were among the essential traits that define transformational leaders.

The study included 105 first-year psychology students from a Canadian university who were tasked with working together to create a survival kit order in a hypothetical scenario of being stranded on a mountain in a blizzard with limited resources. Each participant was required to independently rank the items by importance before the group came to a consensus on the final team ranking.

Prior to the exercises, every participant received an email that was either charismatic, intellectually stimulating, neutral, or a combination of both.

The findings revealed that individuals who received the intellectually stimulating email rated their leader higher in other leadership areas such as charisma and change management. Performance was enhanced in all groups that received any of the three emails (transformational leadership, charismatic, or intellectually stimulating), as well as in the overall group performance.

Studies have indicated that transformational leadership has a comparable impact whether delivered in person or online. This implies that individuals can recognise and react to diverse leadership styles, irrespective of the method of communication.

Leaders Lacking Adequate Support?

Having an effective team is more vital than having the most exceptional leader. Therefore, it is vital for managers to make sure that their remote workers are inspired and at ease in their work-from-home environment. For over a decade, we have been helping businesses source and recruit the most skilled remote developers. Our recommendation is to consider hiring a remote IT professional and get in touch with us. We can source suitable candidates quickly using strategic headhunting within just two weeks. Check out our talent acquisition and recruitment strategies to learn more.

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