How to Build a Transformational Leadership Culture: Three Essential Strategies
Leadership culture is critical to any organisation, shaping its employees’ values, beliefs, and behaviours. A strong leadership culture is essential for attracting and retaining top talent, driving innovation, and fostering a positive workplace environment. However, creating the right transformational leadership culture can be challenging, especially in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.
Right now, we are in the middle of a great workplace transformation, with employee attitudes and their approach to work shifting rapidly. Remote working is increasingly becoming the norm; so are digital, hybrid work models. If transformational leaders do not respond to this change, it can alienate the employees from the organisation’s larger vision, purpose and culture.
So, how can leaders continue to impact and influence their teams in the modern business context? Through strategies that foster greater collaboration and inclusion and embrace transformational leadership characteristics such as emotional intelligence.
How Transformational Leaders Can Use 3 Strategies for Building the Right Culture
The first question you must ask yourself is: are you a transformational leader?
If you follow an evolved, human-centric style of leadership that focuses on bringing about a positive transformation in your employees and teams, then yes, you are a transformational leader. That means that you are able to:
- influence and inspire your teams by walking the talk
- empathise with them, sensing their challenges and ambitions
- involve with them to help them grow and
- stimulate them intellectually, thus fostering a culture of innovation and independent thinking
Once you embrace these transformational leadership characteristics, you can further emphasise creating a transformational workplace culture in the modern business setting. To help you get started, here are three strategies for building a transformational leadership culture in your organisation.
1. Engage your employees, and align your goals with theirs
Visionary leadership are known for their ability to foster engagement, starting with setting and communicating clear, shared goals. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with highly engaged employees experience 2.5 times the revenue growth of those with low engagement levels (Gates, 2018). To create a visionary leadership culture, leaders must go beyond setting goals and ensure that employees are included in the process. This includes providing regular updates, encouraging feedback and input, and recognising and rewarding success. Some strategies to follow include:
- establishing common pathways to achieve individual and organisational goals
- participating in goal setting with every employee individually
- investing in skill and leadership development to enable employees to grow
- encouraging ownership, risk-taking and creative thinking
Sanjiv Bajaj, the Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv and President of CII (2022-23), believes in meaningful and innovative employee engagement. His organisation was once found to have an employee engagement score of 89%, which is much higher than the average industry score of 73%. This stems from his ability to develop initiatives that stimulate employees intellectually and help them build growth pathways for themselves and the organisation. Policies such as ”Do more, earn more” or ”Think more, earn more” incentivise introducing innovation and meeting personal goals. This enables employees to remain engaged with the organisation and helps nurture its growth trajectory through high performance.
2. Up your emotional intelligence game and use it to build trust
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions and those of others. Research shows that visionary leaders, who possess high levels of EI, are more likely to inspire and motivate their teams, foster trust and collaboration, and drive innovation (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002). To create a visionary leadership culture, leaders must start by shifting their mindset to embrace EI. This includes being self-aware, empathetic, and adaptable to change while encouraging and empowering employees to do the same. Other strategies to follow include:
- being flexible with work engagements and transparent in goal setting
- being sensitive to work challenges faced by employees and helping them solve them
- building a culture of merit and recognition
- being honest and transparent in giving and receiving feedback
One relevant example is Infosys Chairman Narayan Murthy’s emphasis on human capital as one of the company’s most important growth factors. He is famous for bringing ”People Managers’ to the team responsible for taking care of all employees. This stems from the Indian IT guru’s consideration of employees as not expendable resources but as assets that can be nurtured.
Narayan Murthy’s Murthy’s approach to human capital management has helped shape the culture at Infosys and make it one of the most sought-after places to work in India. By treating employees as assets to be nurtured, Narayan Murthy has created a supportive work environment where employees are motivated to perform at their best. The emphasis on employee well-being and development has also led to high levels of job satisfaction and low turnover rates, which have been crucial to the company’s long-term success.
Narayan Murthy’s Murthy’s approach to human capital management has also set a high standard for the industry as a whole. Companies in India and worldwide have noticed his innovative strategies, and many have adopted similar practices. This has helped to improve the overall quality of life for employees in the industry and contributed to the growth and development of the technology sector. Narayan Murthy’sMurthy’s emphasis on human capital management has had a transformative impact on Infosys, the technology sector, and how companies approach their employees’ management. By putting employees first, Narayan Murthy has helped create a culture of trust and collaboration, foster innovation, and drive success for Infosys and the employees who work there, thus setting an ideal example of a transformational leadership culture.
3. Create initiatives that help foster productivity and meaningful collaboration
Transformational leaders are skilled at planning and aligning initiatives, and one of the best ways to do this is through highly effective team catch-ups. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review (Primal leadership: Realising the power of emotional intelligence), well-run meetings can improve productivity by 25% (Scharmer, 2009). To create a transformational leadership culture, leaders must:
- invest time and resources into developing a robust meeting process
- focus on clear agendas, active participation, and meaningful follow-up
- foster collaboration and drive engagement through creative brainstorming sessions, knowledge-sharing, and idea exchanges
Under Anand Mahindra’sMahindra’s aegis, the Mahindra Group has effectively demonstrated these strategies’ power. One of India’s most famous transformational leaders, Anand Mahindra, focuses on constantly improving workforce productivity and collaboration. An example is how the Mahindra Rise i4 Ideation Program gathers teams every week to ideate and brainstorm on PQDSM – productivity, quality, delivery, safety, and morale improvements. This helps foster a culture of growth where everyone can meaningfully contribute to organisational success.
The optics of how modern workplaces thrive are changing dramatically. Only transformational leaders with the farsightedness to overhaul their culture with changing times will be able to succeed. That hinges on incorporating the three strategies mentioned above: lead with emotional intelligence, drive productivity in an engaging manner, and create a culture and purpose that empowers teams to grow and achieve personal and professional goals.
By incorporating these key strategies, you can create a leadership culture that elevates the motivation and inspiration of your employees, spurs innovation, and fosters a supportive and positive work environment. This will result in the transformative power of your organisation, where each component contributes more than expected and leads to exceptional business results.