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8 Examples of Transformational Leaders

Andrew Langat
November 12, 2021
A transformational leader smiling for the camera
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It is not uncommon for leaders to claim to be transforming how things are done within specific industries. The popularity of the buzzword “disruption” is an excellent example of this phenomenon.

However, while many leaders claim to be transformational, it is often difficult to create successful change within organizations or companies.

Nevertheless, transformational leadership creates new business models, products, opportunities for growth, and strategies if done well. 

How to become a transformational leader should be one of the core topics covered in mentoring, executive coaching, and leadership coaching. 

It is one of the defining characteristics of great leaders. 

A transformational leader talking about the compnay's future plans.

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Examples of transformational leadership

With this in mind, here are the examples of transformational leaders and how they have changed the organizations they lead.

An infographic listing examples of transformational leaders with their names and headshots.

1. Anjali Sud - Vimeo

Anjali Sud is the CEO of Vimeo, the online video-sharing platform. She has led the company through a remarkable period of growth from a struggling YouTube alternative to one of the leading streaming sites with extensive customization not found on competing sites.

Sud’s transformational leadership is evident through her decision to pivot Vimeo from its focus on competing with Youtube to a software platform for online creators. 

Her decisions have paid off massively for the company as it now has millions of paying customers and is currently valued at over $7 billion on the stock market.

2. Satya Nadella -  Microsoft

Satya Nadella is a transformational leader and a great example of how bold decision-making can change the outlook of any company. He reinvented the gigantic Microsoft Corporation by removing the ubiquitous Windows Operating System as the company’s main product and switched to a focus on cloud services. 

His decisions pulled Microsoft from the brink of irrelevance and turned it into one of the most valuable companies in the world, with a market valuation north of a trillion dollars

In addition to launching a wide array of cloud services, Satya Nadella also made several changes to the Microsoft company culture. He stopped infighting among team members, encouraged a culture of curiosity, and emphasized soft skills within the company. 

3. Jeff Bezos - Amazon

Despite the negative stories around Jeff Bezos’ leadership of Amazon, you cannot fault his transformational leadership strategies. Bezos oversaw the growth of Amazon from a niche online book vendor to an omnipresent corporate entity with a market value of more than a trillion dollars. 

Through Bezos’s leadership, Amazon has a variety of products and services on offer on multiple platforms. The company delivers billions of packages every year, operates one of the leading content delivery platforms, is a leader in artificial intelligence with Amazon Alexa, and acts as a backbone for several internet services with Amazon Web Services. 

All this happened through the almost-prophetic vision of Jeff Bezos. He expanded Amazon’s operations in remarkable ways, which make him one of the best examples of transformational leadership. 

4. Reed Hastings - Netflix

Netflix is a quintessential example of how to adapt as the world changes and new opportunities open up. 

Reed Hastings transformed the company from a business model based on mailing DVDs to the biggest online subscription video service. 

Hastings has also shunned conventional corporate management practices and adopted the unusual practice of offering unlimited vacation time for salaried workers and generous stock options for employees. 

5. Tim Cook - Apple

After the exit of Steve Jobs, Tim Cook had enormous shoes to fill. Whereas other leaders would crumble under this pressure, Tim Cook skillfully led Apple through this tough time and ensured that the company kept its lead in the tech industry. 

Tim Cook’s transformational leadership brought about exciting products such as the Apple Watch, Apple’s industry-leading Ear Pods, and powerful in-house-developed microchips for Apple products. 

6. Eric Yuan - Zoom 

Zoom is one of the few positive stories to come out of the difficult Covid-19 pandemic. The company became the go-to platform for online classes and meetings. 

At the center of all this was Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom Communications. The Chinese-American businessman’s transformational leadership ensured that Zoom leap-frogged existing giants such as Skype to become the preferred video conferencing platform for millions around the world. 

7. Lian Rubo - ByteDance

Lian Rubo is the former CEO of ByteDance, a Chinese multinational internet technology company. 

While Bytedance is an unfamiliar name for most people; Tiktok, the company’s leading product, is the fastest-growing social media platform in the world. 

Lian Rubo’s decision to acquire in 2017 created Tiktok as we know it today. He transformed the company from a little-known Chinese brand and made it into one of the most popular social platforms in the world. 

8. Lisa Su - AMD

Since the invention of modern-day computer processors, Intel has held a sizable lead in manufacturing technology, processor efficiency, and power. 

AMD was struggling behind Intel and on the verge of bankruptcy. Lisa Su’s transformational leadership saved the company and put them on a trajectory to trounce Intel and other competitors. 

Lian Su transformed AMD by switching the company’s focus to design. She sold other business areas, which allowed AMD employees to focus on building powerful chips while maintaining cost competitiveness. 

A transformational leader is leading the meeting

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How to Become a Transformational Leader

Notwithstanding the diverse nature of companies led by the leaders on this lead, there are some common lessons on transformational leadership. 

Here are three of them:

1. Change Culture To Drive Engagement

It is often said that culture drives performance, so it is crucial to have the right company culture to optimize team engagement and performance. 

Taking the example of Satya Nadella, changing company culture can improve the fortunes of a company in dramatic ways. 

To change company culture, a leader must hire the right people, reinforce positivity in the workplace, and communicate a shared set of values for the team. 

2. Pursue Multiple Strategies

Pursuing a monolithic transformational strategy can lead to failure. A more prudent approach is to adjust existing avenues while investing in new opportunities. 

Drastic changes to multiple aspects of an organization might result in resistance from team members, which could result in failure. 

3. Build a Narrative About the Future

Transformational leaders have the ability to inspire dedication to a cause by building up a narrative about the future. A leader needs to illustrate what the future holds in order to secure the commitment of team members. 

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Andrew Langat
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Andrew Langat is an experienced content specialist in Leadership, Productivity, Education, Fintech, and Research. He is an avid reader and loves swimming as a hobby. He believes that quality content should be actionable and helpful.