One of our best 2016 MBA theses transformational leadership style

Transformational leadership style: The relationship to companies that are digital leaders

By: Berdine Truter 2017



The objective of the study was to explore the relationship between companies that are digitally mature and the leadership style of their C-level executives, with a specific focus on transformational leadership. Success in the digital era requires not only an investment in digital capabilities, but also a change in organisational culture that only strong leadership can inspire. Transformational leadership instils major changes at the organisational level, through changing attitudes and assumptions at the individual level and creating collective engagement. Moreover, this leadership approach facilitates organisational innovation and learning, and generates a shared, inspiring vision for the future.

The purpose this study was two-fold: Firstly, to explore the relationship between transformational leadership and having higher digital maturity levels – becoming a digital master. Secondly, to determine whether one or more of the transformational leadership factors has an effect on the digital maturity of South African companies (represented by four basic transformational leadership behaviours, or “I’s”.

An online survey, specifically addressing the research question, was sent to C-level executives from South African companies that fit the population criteria, using moderator regression models to determine if transformational leadership and its associated behaviours have an effect on a company’s digital maturity. For the sample population, it was determined that two of the transformational leadership behaviours had a positive effect on digital maturity, namely idealised influence and individualised consideration and that one transformational leadership behaviour, inspirational motivation, has a negative effect on digital maturity.


  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Innovation
  • Digital
  • Information Technology