A Transformational Leadership Definition to Unlock Your Digital Growth







Lisa Fratzke

Partner & Executive Strategist,

Head of Client Strategy



At Fratzke, we are passionate about digital transformation and understanding the principles behind great leadership and organizational culture. There’s a term we’ve identified that encompasses both: transformational leadership.

Transformational Leadership Definition

We’ve found transformational leaders to be intellectually curious, committed to taking action and willing to take educated risks in order to grow their brand. These types of leaders are often found in companies that consistently outmaneuver their competitors, regardless of their size  - posting epic numbers every quarter.

The good news is that transformational leadership is a skill that can be cultivated and grown. It takes action and effort, but if you understand the principles behind transformational leadership theory, you can refine your strategy for growing your business.

Transformational Leadership vs. Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders are focused on building a structured system for their teams to operate within. Creativity and innovation takes a backseat to compliance and efficiency.

If you are leading a team that needs to be agile and innovative in order to succeed, a transformational leadership style is far more effective. You’ll be free to take calculated risks when making tough decisions.

Like any journey of discovery, the first step begins with awareness.

Innovation Loop: Where Transformational Leadership Characteristics Shine

Based on our experience, we’ve learned that business owners and corporate leaders are somewhere on the journey depicted below. On one extreme, you’ll find leaders that are totally unaware of new opportunities. And on the other end, there are leaders that have become complacent and distracted - they just don’t seem to care. Both extremes are a problem.

But there’s a sweet spot in the middle. We call it  “The Innovation Loop”.

Transformational Leadership Theory: Innovation Loop

Which stage are your leaders in at your company?

Let’s look at what each step of the journey looks like from a digital marketing perspective. This information will hopefully empower you to better assess your own style of leadership.

Sidenote: We’re not judging here. Great leaders have experienced every stage of this journey. Staying in the innovation loop requires consistent calibration and teamwork.

We want you to benefit from our experience so that you can reach your brand’s full potential. Here are the stages we’ve identified.


At this stage,  you may lack the information required to realize you’ve fallen behind the times. Because of this, it’s difficult to appreciate the value of investing in digital marketing or any other innovative idea for your business.


A spark begins the moment you become aware of something new on a competitor’s website or social media marketing. You start to wonder if you can do the same, or even one-up your competitor’s digital marketing efforts. Your curiosity is piqued.


This is a critical moment. You’re feeling a new source of inspiration for changing things up. This is the sweet spot for digital transformation. But be careful! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and retreat backwards. A conscious, bold decision must be made to continue moving forward.


A bold decision is made – even if it’s just baby steps at first. Money and time are invested in digital marketing. As the brand begins to see positive results, you push for further investment.

Eventually, you choose to throw yourself into the deep-end. You want to learn more and gain as much experience as possible so that your brand can continue to grow at record speed. This stage may take a few years. It takes time to learn, but once the knowledge is combined with action, true transformation occurs.


At this stage you’ve learned so much about digital marketing that you are ready to steer the ship boldly towards market dominance. You become the guru. Your desire to innovate results in record sales and inspires your team to do the same.


Digital transformation, when well-planned and executed, has the ability to 10x a company. As the numbers start to move in the right direction, you’ll be able to  justify further investment in innovative opportunities. When a leader has the numbers to back them up, it’s hard to argue with success. You  are fully empowered to make a huge, positive impact on your brand.


Once you have positive momentum, it can be tempting for a leader to rest on their laurels. You’ve accomplished great things. This is where the slippery slope can start. Leaders in this stage are starting to give into the “set it and forget it” mindset. DANGER!


Even more dangerous is the million different directions leaders are pulled in every day. But if you become complacent about your digital marketing efforts, it becomes really easy to devote time and resources to other things.

Don’t Care

This stage is almost worse than “unaware” and it’s just as easy to fall into. Digital marketing campaigns may be hemorrhaging money because they haven’t been optimized to focus on the things that are still moving the needle. You may be paying too much for low-value campaigns, and missing out on new opportunities. At this stage of the game, things are getting ugly, and company culture and morale can take a nosedive.

How can leaders stay in the innovation loop?

Remember, transformative leaders create an environment where they can take action to lead their teams forward and deliver positive results. If you want your brand to reach its potential, your leadership team needs to:

  • Fight complacency with action.
  • Stay curious, and actively look for and analyze new opportunities.
  • Invest strategically in new tests to produce data-driven insights.
  • Optimize your current systems.
  • Recognize the people and things that drive innovation within your brand.



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