15 May 2015

Is your company culture transactional or transformational?

Moving from a transactional to a transformational culture is said to be the best way of achieving higher levels of employee engagement, with all the benefits that brings. But what does a transformational culture look like and how can you get there?

Workplace changes

How deeply are your employees involved in creating change? Find out whether you’re creating a transformational culture by asking yourself the following questions:

Initiating and contributing

  • How much input do your employees have into what the organisation is doing and how?
  • Can they contribute and carry out ideas that are meaningful to them?

A transformational culture differs from a transactional one in that the staff are integral to developing and delivering business strategy. They do not just perform tasks set by others to get paid.

Transformational leaders

  • Are your leaders able to understand the goals of individuals and align them to bigger priorities?
  • Do your leaders give their employees information so they have context for their work and can do things their way?

A transformational culture requires transformational leaders. They are defined by authors Bass and Riggio in their seminal book Transformational Leadership as those who “help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers' needs”. They do this by “empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organisation”.

Emotional intelligence

  • How emotionally intelligent are your leaders?
  • Or are you still putting old-style command-type leaders in charge?

Only leaders with a high level of emotional intelligence (EI) can be transformational. An emotionally intelligent person can recognise different types of emotions in each employee and use that information to guide their thinking and actions.
EI is generally defined as a set of non-cognitive competencies that are linked to interpersonal effectiveness ie “people skills”.

Talent spotting

  • Do you look for people who can transform a role?
  • Or is your recruitment criteria based on them stepping up into a prescribed role?

Create situations, freedoms and opportunities that enable talent to rise with its own energy and you will find your transformational leaders. Don’t limit your selection process to specifying skills, aptitudes, competences or focus solely on high performers in their current roles.

The long view
Transformational cultures do not happen overnight. They can’t be achieved merely by a series of questionnaires, events or focus groups. They require a sustained cultural shift in how leaders regard their employees and how employees regard both their leaders and their day-to-day work.

Getting it wrong
Failing to achieve a transformational culture won’t go unnoticed. Transparency tools such as the website Glassdoor, where employees anonymously rate their workplaces, can be seen by anyone. Negative comments about uninspiring workplaces can deter potential candidates and bolster rivals’ confidence. It’s not worth remaining transactional.


- this made the point about Glassdoor

- this made the point about sustainability

- this made the point about talent-spotting

Bass, B. M. & Riggio, R. E. (2008). Transformational Leadership. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. 
- this made gave the definition of transformational leadership

http://pure.au.dk/portal/files/10221/THESISFINAL.pdf - Effective Leadership Communications with Emotional Intelligence (EI), Anna H. Linnea Nordström
MMC Spring Thesis 2010
- this made the point about transformational leaders and emotional intelligence. 

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