Transformational leadership is intended to drive organizational change, and the best way to see transformation in practice is by looking at transformational leadership examples.
Below, we’ll look at five inspiring examples from some of the most influential modern business leaders.
5 Transformational Leadership Examples: Tech Edition
Transformational leaders are those who have a vision for change – and have the courage to turn that vision into reality.
In this post, we’ll explore five examples of leaders who had the courage to invest in technology-driven innovation, build cultures that go against the grain, and, ultimately, transform the marketplace and the world we live in.
Elon Musk is the billionaire, entrepreneur, and engineer behind Tesla and SpaceX.
While Musk has received his fair share of criticism – and his fortunes tend to rise and fall from week to week – his transformational leadership has already left an indisputable mark on the tech world.
For instance, Musk has:
- Contributed to the creation of Zip2 and X.com, which later merged with PayPal
- Built SpaceX, an innovative space company with the purpose of, among other things, transporting humans to Mars
- Invested heavily in Tesla, the self-driving car company poised to transform the auto industry, if not the transportation industry itself
- Financed SolarCity, a solar energy company that, by 2013, was the second largest provider of solar power systems in the USA
- Co-founded Neuralink, a company developing technology designed to integrate the human brain with AI
These are just a few examples of the many innovations that Musk has been behind, and to this day, he continues to add more items to this list.
Steve Jobs was the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple.
During his life, Jobs contributed to:
- Co-founding Apple with Steve Wozniak and selling the company’s earliest models
- The development of Apple’s extensive product line-up, including the Apple desktop computers, the Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and more
- Reviving Apple – which was on the verge of bankruptcy when he returned – and turning into one of the world’s most profitable and influential corporations in the world
Jobs is one of the most well-known digital business leaders in the world, whose insights and ideas have informed many other business leaders in recent years.
Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.
As one of the most influential and visionary leaders of our era, Bezos has:
- Transformed Amazon from an online bookseller into a $1.7 trillion-dollar online retailer
- Built many other successful brands, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Blue Origin
- Acquired well-known companies, such as The Washington Post and Whole Foods
While his leadership style has been criticized by many, like Musk, Bezos has undeniably had a massive impact on the tech industry, the global marketplace, and more.
Reed Hastings founded Netflix, currently the world’s dominant online media streaming platform.
His contributions include:
- The transformation of Netflix into a media behemoth that rendered competitors, such as Blockbuster, all but obsolete
- The creation of a workplace culture that has emphasized innovative management practices and a workplace culture that prioritizes “Freedom and Responsibility”
- Donations of millions of dollars to non-profits and charities
Unlike most of the other leaders in this list, the corporate culture Hastings created, as mentioned, has drawn praise from many, proving that transformation and positive cultures can go hand-in-hand.
Jack Ma is one of the richest businessmen in China, whose net worth exceeded $60 billion as of January, 2021.
Here are just a few of his many accomplishments:
- Jack Ma co-founded Alibaba Group, a holding company with multiple subsidiaries
- He has received recognition and acclaim for his role as an entrepreneur, businessman, leader, and more
- His philanthropic foundation, the Jack Ma Foundation, focuses on improving education, the environment, and public health
While Ma ran into regulatory hurdles in 2020 when attempting an IPO, he remains one of the most influential business personalities in the world and an excellent example of what it means to be a transformational leader.
Transformational leadership is a leadership approach that is included within the Full Range Leadership Model. As such, it includes specific dimensions and characteristics, such as the ability to inspire others, cultivate a sense of purpose, and drive organizational change.
However, these examples demonstrate that there is no single “right way” to be a transformational leader.
For instance, certain leaders, such as Musk and Bezos, have been criticized for being abrasive. Yet Reed Hastings, famous in part for creating an innovative and positive workplace culture, shows that it is possible to be a transformative leader without being polarizing.
That being said, many of the leaders listed here do share certain qualities, such as:
- A willingness to both think and act outside the box
- An ability to influence and mobilize others
- A desire to create and lead change, both in their organizations and the world
Both today and in the post-COVID next normal, transformational leadership will be more relevant than ever – anyone who wants to become a leader, therefore, should study leaders such as those covered here.