Traits of a Transformational Leader at a Distance

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but certain approaches to leadership have been proven to be more effective than others, particularly in virtual teams. In these circumstances, the diamond-like qualities of remote transformational leadership have been identified as one of the most successful methods for guiding a remote team to success.

In business, what exactly does “transformational leadership” entail?

Transformational leadership is a style of management whereby leaders seek to motivate and inspire their team, rather than micromanaging them. It encourages an environment of respect, and pushes personnel to use their imagination to come up with creative solutions to issues.

The traits of transformative leaders are as follows.

Management by one’s own efforts

Transformational leaders are highly effective when they are self-managing and do not require micromanagement. They lead by example, demonstrating positive behaviors and motivating their team with their own enthusiasm and drive. Such leaders are passionate about their work and strive to transmit that enthusiasm to their team.

They are superb communicators.

Transformational leaders are capable of inspiring others through their words. They have a clear, open approach to communication and demonstrate great listening skills, actively engaging with all team members.

Hold a clear goal in mind

This type of captain possesses a clear understanding of the direction in which they are steering the ship. They have a clear vision and purpose, even if the means to achieve it are uncertain. Due to their strong leadership and open channels of communication, the team is fully committed to the success of the organization and are willing to go the extra mile.


To be an effective leader, it is essential to be able to motivate and inspire those around you. By ensuring that everyone on the team feels valued and appreciated, it is possible to create an environment of success. Regularly communicating the importance of each role and how everyone contributes to the overall mission can be a powerful tool for achieving a positive transformation.

Face arduous choices.

Effective leaders that have the capacity to transform an organization are highly methodical in their decision-making process. They are willing to take risks and give due consideration to the consequences of their actions. They are not afraid to make difficult choices.

Give your workers some independence.

These managers not only support their team members with guidance and feedback, but also provide them with the autonomy to make decisions and take on important tasks. They anticipate that this will inspire their employees to be motivating to others.

It is difficult to comprehend that fairytales can become a reality, yet this is what transformational leadership often appears to be. Leaders who are able to inspire a sense of purpose in their teams reap a multitude of advantages. However, is there any disadvantage to this form of leadership?

The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Transformational Leadership Style

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).

How about a quick refresher on the “Four Elements of Transformational Leadership?”

James MacGregor Burns is credited with coining the term ‘transformational leadership’ in his book of the same name. In the 1980s, Bernard M. Bass further expanded upon this idea, proposing four essential traits for any transforming leader.

Idealistic Sway

This aspect focuses on how transformational leaders motivate their teams through their charisma and magnetic personality. They motivate their team to work collaboratively and achieve success by setting out a clear direction. Leaders who adopt this approach are also recognised for their willingness to take risks and for their commitment to a consistent set of values.

Intuitive Role-Playing (IS)

Transformative leaders promote innovation and autonomy. They encourage their teams to approach challenges with creative solutions. This encourages members of the team to be more vocal and engaged, as they feel secure in voicing their opinions without risk of reprimand.

Focus on the Uniqueness of Each Person

As a leader with a transformational mindset, it is my aim to create a safe and inclusive environment in which all members are respected and valued. I take the wellbeing of the group as a whole seriously and act as a mentor, listening to their concerns and providing guidance where necessary. I strive to ensure that all members have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Motivating Inspiration

In this context, we can appreciate the ability of transformational leaders to instill a sense of trust and enthusiasm within their teams. These leaders must be able to articulate and internalise their vision, communicating it effectively to their followers.

Leadership Transformation in an Online Setting

It is often assumed that successful management practices in remote settings are difficult to achieve. Unfortunately, there is still a perception that those who work from home are less committed than those who work in an office environment and can become easily homesick. We regret to inform that if you have an unmotivated team, the responsibility lies with the manager.

In other words, how can one lead remotely in a way that transforms the organisation?

When managing change from a distance, effective communication can be a major challenge. Leaders need to understand how to provide their teams with efficient communication tools and strategies. Furthermore, they must come up with ways to keep their team motivated and engaged without being physically present.

What gives? If you are interested in incorporating elements of remote leadership into your management style, consider the following advice:

  • Having defined rules on how to talk to one another
  • Set your sights on attainable, specific goals.
  • Maintain a high level of team morale
  • Talk to your staff (By video calls)
  • Think about how everyone on the team is doing.
  • Encourage open dialogue in teleconferences by rewarding staff for speaking out.
  • Electronic water fountains

Transformational leadership in distributed teams can be incredibly effective when implemented correctly. Leaders who work remotely should ensure that their teams’ mental wellbeing is supported, providing them with the resources and motivation needed to reach their highest potential. This has been known to result in highly productive and inspired virtual teams. However, many struggle to explain why distant transformational leadership is so powerful.

Research on Transformative Leadership at a Distance

This research, which appeared in the 2003 issue of the journal Leadership and Organization Development, sought to explore whether transformational leadership could be equally effective in a virtual setting as it is in a physical one.


A total of 132 undergraduates from a single Canadian institution volunteered for the primary trials in a pilot project. None of the participants had any prior experience in leadership. As part of the experiment, each participant was asked to read a narrative that featured a fictional exchange of e-mails between a worker and their supervisor. Three different leadership styles were represented in these vignettes:

  1. Inspiring others to make change
  2. Exception-based management
  3. Allowing things to happen naturally.

Examining whether or not email receivers (students) could recognise leadership messages was the primary goal of this research.

How about the outcomes? The students were able to easily distinguish the various types of leadership. When compared to the other two leadership styles, transformational leadership demonstrated the greatest correlation with increased interpersonal justice and satisfaction.


The aim of the second research was to examine the effect of remote transformational leadership on employee engagement and productivity within a controlled laboratory setting. Results indicated that charismatic leadership and leadership that evoked interest amongst followers were two of the key characteristics of transformational leaders.

A cohort of 105 first-year psychology students from a Canadian university participated in the experiment. The participants were assigned the task of collaboratively creating a survival kit ordering, based on a scenario of being stranded on a mountain in a blizzard with limited resources. Each individual had to independently rank the items according to their importance before the group then formed a consensus regarding the final team ranking.

Each participant received an email that was either charismatic, intellectually stimulating, neutral, or both before beginning the exercises.

The results showed that those who received the intellectually stimulating email gave their leader higher ratings in other leadership categories, such as charisma and change management. Performance was improved across all groups who received any of the three emails (transformational leadership, charismatic or intellectually stimulating), as well as the group’s overall performance.

Research has demonstrated that transformational leadership has the same impact, regardless of whether delivered online or in person. This suggests that people are capable of identifying and responding to different leadership styles, regardless of the communication channel used.

Leaders Who Don’t Have the Right Support?

Having the right team is more important than having the best leader. It is essential for managers to ensure that their team members are motivated, and comfortable with the remote working environment. We have been helping businesses for over a decade to source and hire the most experienced remote developers. Our advice is: consider hiring a remote IT professional and contact us. We can quickly source suitable candidates through strategic headhunting within a two-week timeframe.

Join the Top 1% of Remote Developers and Designers

Works connects the top 1% of remote developers and designers with the leading brands and startups around the world. We focus on sophisticated, challenging tier-one projects which require highly skilled talent and problem solvers.
seasoned project manager reviewing remote software engineer's progress on software development project, hired from Works blog.join_marketplace.your_wayexperienced remote UI / UX designer working remotely at home while working on UI / UX & product design projects on Works blog.join_marketplace.freelance_jobs