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Inspire and Motivate Through Transformational Leadership

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The theory of transformational leadership is a paradigm defended by a variety of authors such as James Burns. The goal of transformational leadership is very simple: to lead to a’transformation’ of the people and their organizations. This theory assumes that people follow a person who inspires them and gives them a clear vision of the future. In return, the followers need to act with loyalty towards their leader.

Charles De Gaulle is a key political figure in the history of modern France. At the head of the France Libre (Free France) during the German Occupation (between 1940 and 1944), and later on the providential man of the Republic, when France was going through a severe crisis. Being the first President of the Vth Republic, for a mandate of 10 years, De Gaulle is regarded by political figures from left and right as “the man who guaranteed a sovereignty and a place for France in the world order”.

Therefore, it is important to understand Charles De Gaulle’s type of leadership to perceive why he impacted the political prism of France as much, and why is legacy has not yet faded, nearly 50 years after his death.

Through this essay, we will take a look at De Gaulle’s presidency is an example of the transformational paradigm. Bernard Bass has identified four aspects of effective transformational leadership, which are charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation and consideration, and we will analyse how each of them apply to the man of 18th june 1940.

Max Weber defines charisma has the quality of a person who seduces, influences and even fascinates others by his speeches, his attitudes, his temperament, his actions.

Transformational leadership emphasizes charisma and the development of mutual trust between the leader and the follower, promoting the leadership abilities of other individuals, and setting goals beyond short-term needs of a group. For James Burns, Max Weber’s charismatic heroic leader was the incarnation of transformational behaviors with strong hierarchical moral values ​​(the end trumps the means).

Indeed, General de Gaulle had a strong personality and was a great speaker. His act for France at liberation was of him a national icon, perceived as the savior of the French. His presence and his travels around the world have forged him a soul representing France. He was a politically and physically charismatic figure in the sense that he owed him a certain respect for his service to the homeland and the fact that his ideas in the manner of exercising power did not reflect a great opposition to it.

One of the best example of his charisma was during the Algerian crisis. The civil war, which lasted 8 years and caused more than 500 000 casualties, caused instability in France, and was one of De Gaulle’s main first subject to deal with. Therefore, in 1958, he gave a speech in Alger with the very famous sentence: “Je vous ai compris” (I have understood you). This sentence is really important because it targets not only the Europeans who lived in french Algeria and wanted to continue to reside in the place they had lived for decades, but also to the fighter of the NLF, who wanted to have independence from the centralised power in Paris. With their sentence, he showed his interest of beginning peaceful negotiations with all the actors of the conflict.

Through this sentence, De Gaulle showed how he managed to get support through a single and therefore promote a clear vision for the future of France, in the eyes of the people who followed him.

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