Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Green Transformational Leadership and Green Growth

Written By

Natalia Aleksandrovna Zhuravleva and Milos Poliak

Submitted: 24 December 2021 Reviewed: 13 January 2022 Published: 08 March 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.102653

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Leadership - New Insights

Edited by Mário Franco

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The ongoing global crisis of the world economy requires the search and substantiation of an alternative model for achieving sustainable development, taking into account environmental safety factors. The aim of the study is to substantiate a scientific hypothesis of the impact of transformational leadership on green growth. The methodology is based on the theory of transformational leadership as a new type of effective management activity, the concept of the digital platforms and ecosystems. Based on the concept of sustainable development and the theory of destabilization, which explains the changes in the business models of transport organizations, the authors substantiated the dependence of the effectiveness of these models on the activity of transformational leadership. The main results of the study are confirmation of the proposed scientific hypothesis. It has been proven that the current transactional leadership metrics (Key Performance Indicator and variance management) do not meet the requirements of effective management. A model for quantitative assessment of the conformity of the impact of transformational leadership on the goals of sustainable development and green growth of transport companies has been developed. It is proved that transformational leadership, intersectorality, is becoming a new type of management activity that ensures the growth of long-term profitability from green investments.


  • transformational leadership
  • sustainable development
  • green growth
  • business model

1. Introduction

The global financial crisis has vividly demonstrated the instability of the modern financial and economic system and made it particularly urgent for the world community to find an alternative model for achieving economic growth based on digital technologies, taking into account the factors of social and environmental security.

The current stage of development of economic science requires a rethinking of the basic concepts of all transformations taking place in the world through the prism of scientific and technical changes, both general and specific, associated with changes in human behavior, competition, data, innovations, and values.

Before the theory of transformational leadership appeared in the literature [1, 2, 3], most researchers relied on transactional factors of effective leadership behavior. Rewards and recognition were explained as the most important factors in achieving goals in organizations [4]. The evolution of further research has shown significant changes in the understanding of leadership [5].

Nevertheless, the structure of modern commodity markets, the gravity of intersectoral balances of countries and territories are changing significantly. Most of the technologies and management decisions that were in demand until recently are of no interest to anyone today. The areas of knowledge and competencies of personnel are changing. Transformational leadership is emerging as a response to the rapid changes in society, economics, and politics. It offers a toolkit for promoting changes leading to a socially oriented, equitable green society, thereby contributing to the creation of new technologies, innovations, and some kind of a social progress. That is why every industry in our time requires, first of all, competent leadership and only then management.

The emergence of transformational leadership, used as a tool for the development of business and society, has spread to many areas of the world’s leading countries, including nongovernmental organizations. Transformational leadership in the modern business world is positioning itself as a new type of management activity that has shifted the management paradigm from excellent task performance to leadership or the right choice of what to do.

The results of numerous studies have shown that green transformational leadership has a significant impact on the internal motivation and creativity that employees need to produce ecologically pure products and services [6, 7]. At the same time, research on the interaction of the areas of leadership and economics is not enough to present the completeness and diversity of the influence of leadership on business efficiency and the development of society. The study [8] that demonstrates the potential benefits of leadership research in achieving economic goals should be noted. In particular, the authors link the evolution of the concept of leadership with the corresponding tasks of economic development. The research [9] analyzing studies that combine economics and leadership argues that the behavior of a leader, his choices and actions determine the results of the organization and indicate new strategic objectives.

Special attention of researchers is focused on understanding the actions of corporate leaders. Predicting the behavior of a future leader emphasizes the importance of understanding the context (conditions, economic situation) in which a leader acts, how valuable capital is created, capital markets’ conditions, as well as the general trend of society development [10].

We are careful in our research, because we take into account the reasoned opinion of [11] about the demystification of the impact of transformational leadership on the performance of an organization under conditions of environmental uncertainty.

These studies allowed us to support our statement about the impact of transformational leadership on the sustainable development of society and green growth. At the same time, we see a significant number of unexplored areas, in particular, (1) for many corporations, including with state participation, transactional leadership instruments being still dominant, while it is obvious that they are economically losing their meaning; (2) the effectiveness of green infrastructure development projects and “green financing” has not been proven; (3) the influence of transformational leadership on the sustainable environmental development of industries is practically absent. It was the latter circumstance that determined the choice of the transport industry, as the most significant in the context of the green growth of Russia, as an object of scientific research.

Under the influence of all the above circumstances, significant changes are taking place in the world transport systems. First, the intensification of the construction and launch of high-speed roads is based on fundamentally new green technologies, materials, and energy. Secondly, the inclusion of transport systems in sustainable development projects as an essential part of ensuring the development of new product markets and the growth of social mobility. Thirdly, the designed transport systems in the world strive to conform to the new consumption model.

The transport system is moving into the format of an environmentally friendly (safe), social (highly mobile), and economical ESG system. At the same time, the E-factor takes into account the reduction of CO2 emissions by the company, the volume of consumption of water resources and land, as well as the introduction of waste processing. The factor of social criteria (S-factor) reflects the level of observance of human rights, ensuring safety in the workplace and protection of customer information, the availability of training programs. The corporate governance paradigm (G-factor) is based on independence and efficiency of management, transparency and quality of financial reporting, as well as disclosure of nonfinancial information of the company.

The purpose of this study is to develop and test a scientific hypothesis that determines the role of transformational leadership in enhancing sustainable development processes, first of all, green growth. The scientific hypothesis is subject to quantitative assessment of this impact on the efficiency of the operating and business models of Russian transport organizations.

The object of the research is the largest transport companies in four transportation segments: rail, urban rail passenger transportation, road, and sea.

The subject of the research is the methodology for the development of transformational leadership in the new economic order, methods and models for assessing its impact on the effectiveness of green projects of transport organizations.

The research is based on the hypothesis of the positive impact of transformational leadership on the sustainable development of the transport and logistics business, first of all, its “green” growth. Two main results of the study that are directly related to the backbone organizations of the Russian transport system are highlighted: (1) the current metrics of transactional growth do not meet the requirements of sustainable development and “green” growth and do not stimulate the personnel of companies to work effectively; (2) the positive impact of transformational leadership on the transformation of transport companies in the direction of green growth has been quantitatively confirmed.


2. Scientific hypothesis

There is some (but limited) support for the impact of transformational leadership on green growth. So, many modern management theories, in terms of style and management methods, are based on the understanding of “leadership” [12]. The most commonly considered types of leaders are authoritarian, democratic, laissez-faire, transactional, and transformational. The systems theory of leadership, exploring many options for the behavior of leaders, is basic in understanding the evolution of this concept [13]. In our study, we rely on the concept of transformational leadership as the most appropriate to the new economic order [14, 15]. At the same time, we understand that the previous model of transactional leadership, when the goals and objectives of the business are predetermined, and the leader uses reward and punishment to motivate the entire staff of the company, becomes ineffective in some cases. We studied the impact of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) on the efficiency of business models of the largest Russian transport and logistics companies and came to the conclusion that there should be other metrics for team and personal efficiency.

In this regard, on the basis of the provisions of the situational leadership theory, namely the study of the dependence of the leadership style on the situation in the team and the leader’s clear orientation toward solving the problem, we have established the positive influence of situational leadership (from the development of monofunctional products or services that satisfy a certain need) for the growth of the value of the product or service itself [16, 17, 18].

The third step of our research was based on the modern interpretation of the systems theory of leadership [13]. Within the framework of this theory, leadership and the leader are considered from the point of view of group dynamics. The group is viewed as a system, leadership is the organization of relations in the group, the leader is the subject of managing this process. We applied these provisions to the concept of the evolution of digital platforms and ecosystems, which today maximally reflects the level of development of the object of our research—transport and logistics systems [19]. The introduction of digital technologies in the supply chain of goods and services satisfies the demand of society and the economy in the growth of mobility, speed, flexibility, and the ability to compress space. At the same time, the threshold between reality and virtuality loses its clear outline. Today, most services can exist in the format of digital products, and their set forms an entire ecosystem.

Digitization embodies the model of the development of consciousness. Its processes reflect our thinking and the way we interact with the world. Developers of digital systems are repeating the path of development of the human mind—from adaptability to creativity. This, in its essence, is transformational leadership—it is a type of leadership that causes transformation (change) in subordinates, which leads to an understanding of changes in business [20]. Our conclusions are confirmed by the following logic of the development of the theory of transformational leadership.

It is a known fact that the term “transformational leadership” was first introduced by James V. Downton (1973). However, this concept was developed by James MacGregor Burns in his book “Leadership” published in 1978 [1, 21]. He expanded this concept, moving away from a simple interpretation of transformational leadership as a set of certain personal qualities to a process in which a leader and a follower, interacting in a certain way, raise each other to a higher level of motivation and personal, moral development. In our study, this is an important understanding of how leadership can contribute to the implementation of the goals of sustainable development, green growth. It substantiates the position that the activities of transport and logistics organizations within the framework of the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) concept and compliance with the principles of responsible investment (PRI—Principles for Responsible Investment) contribute to the growth of transport infrastructure development projects and the improvement of business models of transport organizations [22].

The tasks of transformational leadership in ensuring green growth are extremely important, since they raise awareness of the company’s personnel about the importance and value of the intended results and how to achieve them and, in turn, motivate them to go beyond their immediate selfish interests for the sake of the mission and vision of the organization, its involvement in sustainable development of society. Charismatic and inspiring qualities are observed at all levels of organization management [23].

Transformational leadership implements an individual approach to building teamwork, which is extremely important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when business has switched to the work of “hybrid teams”, i.e., partly on-line, partly off-line [24, 25]. We consider individualization of work with personnel as a method of timely transfer of information to subordinates. It provides ongoing observation and feedback and, more importantly, links the individual’s current needs with the organization’s mission and enhances those needs when appropriate.

The most important component of transformational leadership is intellectual stimulation [26, 27]. An intellectually stimulating leader awakens in subordinates an awareness of problems, awareness of their own thoughts, as well as recognition of their beliefs and values. It is through the intellectual stimulation of subordinates that new methods of fulfilling the organization’s mission are explored. Following this statement, we have developed a methodology for assessing the impact of transformational leadership on the transformation of transport and logistics systems in a green growth economy in the context of global economic destabilization.

Each particular question of business and society how to survive and sustainably realize itself in an unstable world has a generalized abstract or demarcation answer. This answer requires an assessment of the processes of destabilization in the context of asymmetric competition in the business models of organizations that follow the trend of sustainable development [28, 29]. For the reliability of the study, we rely on the provisions of the theory of destabilization, which distinguishes ordinary competition from destabilization, the process of assessing potentially destabilizing threats, as well as the methodology that allows forming methods of countering destabilization, taking into account the sustainable development of organizations based on green technologies.

We relied on two approaches to methodological research: specific scientific and technological. It is these two levels of our research methodology that are of particular interest for describing the impact of transformational leadership on digital technological change, which is essentially a set of theoretical and experimental studies conducted in order to obtain substantiated baseline data for the successful implementation of green business models of transport organizations.

The concept of sustainable development, influencing the consciousness of the manufacturer and the consumer, first of all, significantly changes the views on value for the consumer (Environmental, Social, Governance), offers new methods of creating added value. Moreover, in order to methodologically reliably describe the impact of transformational leadership on the sustainable development of business models of organizations, it is necessary to assess the business through the prism of a new quality of value of a service or product and also why digital technologies, intangible assets (data), and customer networks are so important in this context.

Specific scientific methodology made it possible to generalize the signs of the influence of transformational leadership on the behavior of economic agents, which is used in the development of social, economic, and environmental policies [30]. In fact, the “demand economy” and “supply economy” are being transformed into a new digital entity that changes both the behavior of the consumer and producer and the scientific apparatus that describes these processes. Above all, digital transformation addresses fundamental constraints in each of the areas in which business strategy operates, proposing new methods of connecting with consumers and new methods of creating added value and competition, where the role of a transformational leader is growing.

Analyzing information on the adherence of transport and logistics systems to the requirements of sustainable development, we applied a logical-conceptual approach to identifying the relationship between transformational leadership and sustainable growth of organizations [31].

Mathematical calculations made it possible to assess the fundamental changes in the supply chains of goods and services associated with the growing importance of the category of time or the emergence of the concept of “mobility of supply chains” [32].

The resources-processes-values (RPV) theory explains why established transport companies have such a hard time adopting disruptive green technologies [33, 34].

It is the resources (what is at the disposal of transport companies today, primarily the energy that provides traffic), processes (the existing patterns of the company’s work), and values (what the company strives for) in general determine the advantages, disadvantages, as well as “blind zones” of its strategic development. A company can successfully take advantage of disruptive green technologies only when it has the necessary resources (for example, sources and generation of maglev energy), when processes facilitate, rather than impede, the necessary actions, and when corporate values ​​allow making a promising project a priority.

Using the theory of rational behavior, it can be stated that in the current situation, the model of human behavior is shifting toward maximizing utility (including previously unknown values) under conditions of limited resources. This means that the choice of a product or service is solely caused by its value (utility) and becomes a purely “economic choice.” Thus, passengers strive to ensure the monetization of their mobility, transport companies—to optimize costs and stay in their market segment, the state pursues various, often contradictory, goals related to ensuring stability, economic efficiency, socioeconomic equality of society members, etc. Obviously, the rationality of behavior will lead to a change in the value of transport services: there are obvious examples of violation of the rationality of behavior during the period of isolation and the uncertainty of getting out of it, which directed attention to the search for an assessment of new psychological factors that change the behavior of consumers of transport services and transport organizations [35, 36].


3. Data

First of all, we examined the basic documents that define the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, the concept of sustainable development adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 2015, the UN Resolution, data from the International Energy Agency. The documents confirming the national adaptation of the SDGs in Russia have been analyzed, on the basis of which a table has been formed showing the relationship between the SDGs and national goals, projects, and state programs for the green development of the transport industry. The data are grouped in Table 1 [39, 40, 41].

Sustainable development goalsNational goalsNationa projectsState programs
Resilient infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation
  • Acceleration of technological development

  • Ensuring accelerated adoption of digital technologies

  • Entry of the country into the top-5 largest economies in the world

  • “Comprehensive plan for the modernization and expansion of the main infrastructure,” “Safe and high-quality highways” and

  • “International cooperation and export”

  • “Development of the transport system”

  • “Scientific and technological development”

Transition to sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Acceleration of technological development.

  • Ensuring the accelerated adoption of digital technologies.

  • Entry of the country into the top-5 largest economies in the world

  • “Environmental protection”

  • “Economic development and innovative economy”

  • “Development of industry and increasing its competitiveness”

  • “Reproduction and use of natural resources”

  • Ecology

Strengthening the means to achieve sustainable development and revitalizing global partnership mechanismsEnsuring accelerated digital adoption
  • “Digital economy”

  • “International cooperation and export”

  • “Economic development and innovative economy”

  • “Development of foreign economic activity”

  • “Scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation”

Table 1.

Parameters of compliance of the development strategy of transport organizations of the Russian Federation with the goals of sustainable growth. Compiled by: [37, 38].

The data in Table 1 show that green infrastructure (transport) projects are being launched in response to numerous environmental challenges. At the same time, they can solve other—social and economic problems.

We analyzed the current and planned expenditures of Russia on the ecology in the context of the state program “Environmental Protection” for 2015–2024, the indicators of national projects: “Comprehensive plan for the modernization and expansion of the main infrastructure,” “Safe and high-quality highways,” and “Digital economy of the Russian Federation” [42, 43, 44, 45, 46]. We confirm the trend of significant growth in the volume of budgetary funds under these programs.

We used data on the global green finance market and found that green bonds account for the largest share in its structure. In substantiating our hypothesis, we relied on data from the World Bank Group on green bonds, since Russian transport companies (in particular, Russian Railways) use this very tool in the development of railway infrastructure projects. Green bonds are issued for new and existing transport projects that comply with the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Green Bond Principles (GBP).

By examining the forecast data of the Global Infrastructure Hub [47] for the next decade, we have estimated the growth of the world needs for financing infrastructure to support sustainable development by 2030 at about 0.3% of world GDP. PwC data indicate that the amount of capital for responsible investment has grown by one-third every 2 years from 2014 to 2018, and at the beginning of 2021, about half of all managed assets in Europe are attributed to responsible investment assets [48].

According to a 2018 World Bank Group study, Russia’s transition to the best available technologies as part of the “greening” and “decarbonization” of the economy will require financing in the amount of about 4–8 trillion rubles, of which 13% for urban and mainline transport.

Important for our study is the conclusion of the World Bank analysts that the transition to a green economy in Russia is possible through the development of green public procurement, especially taking into account that the state as a customer is a significant segment of consumption in a country with a market accounting for about a third of GDP. This confirms our hypothesis that in Russia, the transformational leadership of public authorities will be critical to green growth.

For an empirical assessment of the obtained scientific results, we conducted a survey of four Russian transport companies in relation to the detection of signs of transformational leadership and the determination of their weight value in making sustainable development decisions. The sample is determined by the importance of these organizations in the transport services market. The survey involved managers and specialists of the following companies:

  • JSC Russian Railways (JSC RZD) —a company that owns the entire public railway infrastructure, railway rolling stock and is the largest operator of passenger and freight traffic.

  • Transport concession company—the leader of green projects in the segment of urban rail passenger transportation, corresponding to ICMA;

  • State company “Russian Highways” (Avtodor), which has 3771 km of road length in trust;

  • Ust-Luga seaport, the largest universal port in the Baltic, the second largest in Russia, and the fifth in Europe.

  • The analysis lacks data for air transport companies.


4. Methods

Using the method of grouping data obtained as a result of questioning top-level managers (self-assessment and assessment by colleagues, management, subordinates) of four transport companies in the field of rail freight transport, road transport, land rail transport, and sea transport, we have formed a scale of the main features of transactional and transformational leadership. We used the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) [49, 50]. At the same time, we have updated the questions, in particular:

  • Does the management of the company use an individual approach or leadership by developing people toward the concept of sustainable growth? (To turn followers into leaders of transformations. Generation of fundamentally new ideas and solutions);

  • Is the company’s policy on intellectual stimulation evident or leadership by stimulating people’s thinking: ecology, social responsibility, responsible management? (Reaching a consensus with employees on the values ​​of the organization);

  • Is there real motivation or leadership by inspiring people to design and implement green growth projects? (An appeal to ​​such values as freedom, environmental safety, and responsibility);

  • How charismatic is the leader (top management) of the company? The leader tries to be a role model, sacrifices his own selfish interests: social responsibility, environmental behavior.

Each answer was assigned a value for the weight of the indicator corresponding to the rating scale. The final assessment was used in the correlation analysis of the hypothesis substantiation: a) the dependence of the presence and increase of green growth projects on the obvious signs of transformational leadership in the company; b) dependence of the growth of efficiency of business models of organizations on green transport projects.

We applied the methods of mathematical description of the value of transport services (speed of transportation, development of transport networks, and availability of a set of necessary digital services), formed under the influence of intellectual stimulation of transformational leadership, which made it possible to form a set of indicators of sustainable development and green growth, applicable to all types of transport: the effect of growth in the profitability of green projects (E-factor), caused by green investments, an increase in network density (S-factor), and the speed of movement or compression of space (G-factor).

On their basis, it is possible to generate a complex indicator—a unit of value for the impact of transformational leadership on green growth projects.


5. Results

The research results presented below confirm the main provisions of our scientific hypothesis:

  • The effectiveness of the use of transactional leadership tools, primarily based on KPI indicators and variance management, has reached its limit. The current metrics do not meet the requirements of sustainable development and green growth.

  • Transformational leadership tools influence the efficiency of the operating and business models of transport organizations implementing green growth projects.

Below is a sequence of evidentiary actions in confirming these provisions of the scientific hypothesis.

  1. Based on the survey, an analytical scale was developed for the correspondence of indicators of transformational leadership of the leading companies in the main sectors of the Russian transport market (Table 2).

CompanyAssessment of transactional leadership metrics KPI / deviation managementAssessment of transactional leadership indicatorsAggregate weights of the assessment IS+IC + IM + II
JSC Russian Railways5534214
Transport Concession Company4545519
“Russian highways” (Avtodor)532229
Ust-Luga seaport5322310

Table 2.

Indicators of transformational leadership of the leading Russian transport companies. Note: 1. Calculated taking into account the weights of the scale of compliance of indicators of transformational leadership in the company, the presence of active green projects (funded by Green Bond), compliance of green bonds with ICMA standards. 2. Calculated according to information on the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and the value of the Green Bond coupon.

Legend: IS – Intellectual Stimulation; IC – Individualized Consideration; IM - Inspirational Motivation; II – Idealized Influence.

Weighted assessments: 2 – Not at all; 3 – Sometimes; 4 – Often; 5 - Almost always.

As follows from the survey, organizations make the most of transactional leadership indicators (KPIs and deviation management), while everyone notes the low utility of these indicators. Moreover, in the largest transport companies, the costs of periodic calculations and the formation of these indicators in complex hierarchical structures with overlapping business processes exceed the effect of their application.

Analysis of the aggregate weights of the assessment of indicators of transformational leadership in Russian transport companies allows us to conclude about the presence and development of its processes in the following sequence:

First step (from 0 to 10): realizing the organization’s need for changes associated with increased competition in the transportation markets, the decrease in the effectiveness of existing business models, and the achievement of the maximum level of labor productivity while maintaining existing technologies in the supply chains.

Second step (from 10 to 15): creating a new vision of sustainable development and, above all, green growth. The vision is not the product of a single leader, but is formed as a result of team discussion and decision-making during the development and implementation of the project.

Third step (over 15): institutionalization of changes. It involves changes in the organization of business processes, project teams, operational and financial business models of the organization.

As can be seen from the table, transformational leadership focused on green growth is just beginning to develop in Russian transport organizations. Therefore, it is extremely important to show the dependence of the effectiveness of sustainable development and green growth projects on the understanding and formation of transformational leadership.

Based on the representations of [51], we examined how eco-friendly human resource management interacts with the interrelationships between green transformational leadership, green innovation, and environmental indicators.

  1. 2. The assessment of the conformity of the influence of transformational leadership on the transformation of transport companies in the area of green growth and the goals of sustainable development is made (Table 3).

    The following designations are used in the table:

  1. the projects of the company (Transport Concession Company) are aimed at the availability of public transport for the population of the agglomeration, increase the convenience of urban transport users, and contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions when using personal transport.

  2. projects of the Russian Railways involve the construction of new railway lines, implement programs to reduce the impact on the environment; electrification of track sections to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; construction of treatment facilities to reduce emissions of pollutants.

  3. Avtodor plans to use alternative low-carbon modes of transport; how environmentally friendly the road infrastructure under construction is.

  4. projects for the implementation of certain digital mobility technologies that increase passenger traffic and supply chains in order to reduce the longest and most air-pollution-related travel.

  5. the planned investments in the development of the Ust-Luga seaport are shifting from infrastructure consolidation to a renewable infrastructure, and successful port terminals will be recognized primarily by the high degree of use of green technologies (connected devices, route optimization, energy efficiency, problem detection and troubleshooting).

  6. projects that increase the spatial and technical possibilities of creating remote workplaces to accommodate more “hybrid” teams working online to reduce the need for commuting.

CompanyOngoing green growth projectsPlanned projects (investments) of sustainable developmentImpact of transformational leadership green growth projects (average correlation r)Impact of green transport projects on the efficiency of business models (IRR of the project)
JSC Russian Railways(b)
Transport Concession Company(a)
“Russian highways” (Avtodor)(c)
=.24No completed projects
Ust-Luga seaport(e)
=.15No completed projects

Table 3.

Assessment of the impact of transformational leadership on the transformation of transport companies toward green growth and sustainable development goals. Compiled by: [37, 52, 53].

The results show that indicators of transformational leadership are highly correlated between green growth projects and the growth of project performance in companies that are strategically targeting and implementing environmental development programs for their businesses. These strategies provide companies that are realigning their business models for sustainable development, the growth of competitiveness, and efficiency [54, 55].

With regard to seaports, it is extremely difficult to assess the economic effect of investments in green technologies in specific numbers, and most often only indirect results can be seen. For example, the Solvo.TOS automated management system for ports and terminals can reduce the operating costs of a cargo terminal by 5–35%. The spread is large enough to predict a return on investment. However, at the same time, the system at least allows increasing the level of service provided to the terminal’s clients, which is one of the indicators of its sustainable development. Likewise, it is difficult to assess fragments of Avtodor’s projects.

  1. 3. Transformational leadership, open to the publicity and social responsibility of business, helps to attract cheaper investments than the financial market offers. The market evolution of finance has formed a set of green finance: bonds, loans, stock investments, and green insurance [56]. The use of these tools involves the implementation of projects with clear environmental benefits that are assessed, including quantitatively, by issuers, investors, credit institutions, and insurance companies. In other words, they require disclosure of information and absolute openness of the company’s management in confirming the necessity for assessing the impact of investments on the environment.

For Russian transport companies, more than ever, there is a problem of attracting investment in projects for the development of urban and mainline transport infrastructure. Moreover, these projects have special features: long payback periods and a low rate of return, generate efficiency mainly with a high density of passenger traffic, and active supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced global passenger traffic by 50–60% for various types of transportation, changed the gravity of supply chains and the structure of goods, which led to a decrease in the profits of transport companies. At the same time, the deficit of investments in financial markets has increased with a simultaneous increase in their value. Thus, the estimated supply potential in the investment market of infrastructure projects in the world is $10.2 trillion, while the required investments are estimated at $11.3 trillion—an investment gap of $1.1 trillion.

For Russia, attracting green, cheaper financing is the most important economic and social task of ensuring sustainable development, including transport infrastructure. The global financial market recognizes that the format of sustainable development of railway transport in Russia on the basis of green projects is not only useful in terms of protecting and restoring the environment, but also relatively profitable, since it generates the idea of ​​environmentally friendly transport as financially attractive. It is quite obvious that transformational leadership as the ability of management to transform its worldview to solve social and environmental problems can activate Russian business, government bodies, and political forces to move to a new world of sustainable development.

This is confirmed by the experience of green growth of the Russian Railways company, which has already invested more than 4 billion rubles in green projects. The general director of the company, Oleg Belozerov, annually increases the costs of sustainable development projects, primarily green growth projects, despite the fact that the load on the environment of railway transport is the lowest of all modes of transport.

The leader of the company not only declares the importance of high environmental friendliness of transportation as the main vector of development, but also initiates projects in the field of ecology, clean transport, and social responsibility of the transport business. At the same time, the company fully complies with the principles of “green” financing, placing the third tranche of green bonds.

5.1 Implications for theory

This study has theoretical implications for the leading infrastructure industries in Russia, the effectiveness of which is associated with sustainable development and “green” growth. It expands the possibilities of studying potential internal drivers of transport and logistics organizations and complements the growing body of knowledge in the study of environmental and digital leadership.

5.2 Implications for practice

This study also has a number of practical implications that stem from the increased global interest in sustainable growth and ecological responsibility. It enables transport and logistics organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of their operational and business models in green growth projects.

5.3 Limitations and suggestions for future research

It is important to recognize that this study, despite the results obtained, has a number of limitations. Firstly, it was limited by a relatively small sample size consisting of four basic, mainly state-owned, transport companies that occupy more than 50% of the market for the corresponding modes of transport. Undoubtedly, the work that will expand the sample taking into account the market operators of transportation will be useful. We understand that it is necessary to increase the number of variables in the factor analysis of the impact of transformational leadership indicators on the effectiveness of business models of organizations.


6. Conclusion

The scientific hypothesis presented in this study confirms the direct impact of transformational leadership on the activation of sustainable development processes, first of all, green growth. Our evidence shows the impact of these processes on the growth of the operational and business models of Russian transport companies.

We found that intellectual stimulation, as a critical sign of transformational leadership, is shaping a new digital approach to transport infrastructure development projects, supply chains, and population mobility, which is reflected in the green growth of the national economy.

Our analysis has shown that the inspiring motivation of a transformational leader can spur complex green growth processes in such complex systems as rail transport. The concept of sustainable growth and the environmental goals of Russian Railways under the Long-term Development Program until 2025 confirms this conclusion.

A survey of the management of the largest Russian transport companies showed that the idealized influence and individualization of decision-making inherent in transformational leadership are supported by the choice of people and reflect the views of a society that is willing to pay 15–30% more for products and services produced with ESG in mind, and 80% of millennials choose to work for companies with strong sustainability practices.

We can quantify another transformational leadership trend—ethical choice. More and more top managers of Russian transport companies are beginning to think about what value their company brings to the world, what problems it solves, and whom it helps. This allows them to cope with burnout and gain moral satisfaction from their work.

6.1 Next steps

Expanding on this study, we will be able to calculate indices of the impact of transformational leadership on the efficiency of supply chain mobility. Mathematically, they reflect the weighted average sum of three subindices: the impact of green transport projects on society (mobility), the environment, and the ability of businesses to grow in innovation (efficiency).


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


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Written By

Natalia Aleksandrovna Zhuravleva and Milos Poliak

Submitted: 24 December 2021 Reviewed: 13 January 2022 Published: 08 March 2022