Transformational Leadership Linked to Creativity and Innovation

employees team huddle
Topic(s): creativity, leadership, performance
Publication: Journal of Business Research (2009)

Article: Transformational leadership, creativity, and organizational innovation
Authors: L. Gumusluolu, A.Llseve

Reviewed by: IO at Work

Transformational leaders demonstrate charisma, build relationships with their followers, express a vision for the future, inspire and encourage their followers to reach big-picture goals, and intellectually stimulate their followers. These leaders enable followers to achieve what might otherwise be viewed as impossible.  

The research (Gumusluoglu & Ilsev, 2009) examined multiple organizational levels while evaluating transformational leadership’s effect on employee creativity. Their sample included employees within numerous small Turkish organizations specializing in software development.


The authors found that there is a link between transformational leadership and individual-level creativity. Transformational leaders build their employees’ self-confidence, enable employees to identify with their company’s vision, and encourage their employees to think in new ways.

Importantly, the authors found that psychological empowerment plays a role in this relationship. When employees feel psychologically empowered by their transformational leader, they also exhibit a greater sense of autonomy that naturally leads to creative thought. On the flip side, the authors found that transformational leadership is less likely to result in employee creativity when it does not involve the psychological empowerment of followers.

Findings also supported the relationship between transformational leadership and organizational-level innovation. Interestingly, the innovation measure captured the organization’s innovative activity as well as the returns the organization saw from those innovations.  


Companies relying on creativity and innovation for bottom-line profit should consider adopting a transformational leadership style. Empowering employees will encourage them to make decisions on their own and think outside of the box.

Gumusluoglu, L., Ilsev, A. (2009). Transformational leadership, creativity, and organizational innovation. Journal of Business Research, 62(4), 461-473.