4 Transformational Leadership Practices That Motivate Teachers

The emotions of teachers are an often ignored, but very important part of a school’s learning climate. With each decision or policy they put in place, school leaders have an effect on the emotions of their teachers. Transformational leadership practices that have emotional consequences reflect four sets of “core practices” for effective leadership. These practices form a major part of what most successful school leaders do, in many different organizational and cultural contexts. Here are four core practices that keep teachers excited to come to work every day.

  1. Direction-setting. The practices of school leaders geared at building an inclusive sense of purpose in the school, and a grasp of the specific goals often leads to success, and broader school purposes are also accomplished. Most successful school leaders set higher expectations for their own performance as well as those of their teaching staff and students.
  2. Focusing on helping teachers improve professionalism. The development of teachers’ capacities includes most of the principal practices that influence teachers’ feelings. These practices include: being genuinely friendly, considerate, supportive, attentive to teachers’ ideas, and mindful of teachers’ welfare. School leaders who provide individualized consideration and learning opportunities build the teachers’ need to accomplish their own goals as well as those of the school. Success in building capacity is also achieved by reducing distractions to instructional work, as well as modeling values and practices that are aligned with the teachers’ core purpose.
  3. Redesigning the organization. This entails building a culture that is supportive and collaborative in teaching and learning, and creating and sustaining school structures that complement such a culture. In this context, successful principals nurture productive relationships with parents and the entire community, to influence future policies and prevent situations that might affect the school.
  4. Managing the instructional program. This aspect of leadership basically requires instructional knowledge. It includes efforts by school leaders to ensure that their schools have highly competent staff, to observe the progress of students and the school improvement, to monitor teachers’ instructional practices, and to provide supportive, helpful feedback to their staff.

Based on the extensive research carried out in both educational and non-school contexts, it is evident that emotionally responsive practices are closely associated with social assessment abilities. These abilities enable one to appreciate the emotional states of others, find out what those states entail in complex social situations, respond in helpful ways, and manage one’s own emotions.

Transformational leaders are known for their emotional capabilities and are prepared to include it in their professional life, despite the fact that it may involve breaking the traditions of professional culture and norms to maintain and repair relationships. They realize that building trusting relationships is vital for a cooperative culture.


Transformational leadership is a theory of leadership that was developed by James Burns (1978), and has been written about by many other scholars since then. To read more of James Burns’ work on transformational leadership and other topics, click here to visit his Amazon.com page.

Choose your Reaction!