Hospitals’ operational performance during disasters varies from failing, to being responsive and resilient, to dealing with disruption and surprise. Transformational leaders enable continuously learning hospitals that are resilient in the face of disasters by adapting regeneratively and evolving beyond undertaking conventional lesson-learning after each disaster. However, learning from successful transformational leaders in healthcare is still ad hoc with a lack of guidance on how to develop such leaders. Hence, this study sought to identify key competencies of transformational leaders by exploring hospital leaders’ actions in dealing with disasters, considering the disaster cycle of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery (PPRR). A qualitative case-study design was adopted comprising in-depth semi-structured interviews with twelve senior hospital staff with operational leadership experience with disasters. Three significant categories (themes) and seven key component competencies (sub-themes, in brackets) of transformational leaders were revealed through the analysis of transcripts: (1) ‘Governance and leadership’ (‘transformative agency’ and ‘decisive accountability’); (2) ‘Planning and risk assessment’ (‘risk navigation’, ‘disaster attunement’, and ‘planning agility’); and (3) ‘Communication and network engagement’ (‘communication accelerator’ and ‘collaboration innovator’). The authors propose a transformational leadership model for hospital disaster resilience and an assessment checklist for leaders’ self-reflection to support hospitals in their transition to resilient operations.