An Analysis of Transformational Leadership

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An Analysis of Transformational Leadership

BSP045 Work Psychology
B010898 Cheng Chen

Since the early 1980s, there has been an explosion of interest on transformational leadership among scholars and managers. It is shown with evidence that the desire and effectiveness of transformational leadership style are universal (Den Hartog, et al., 1999, and Bass, et al. 2006). This leadership style, as its name implies, is a process which tends to change and transform individuals (Northouse, 2004). To help followers grow and develop into leaders, transformational leaders respond to individual followers’ needs and empower them (Bass, et al. 2006). It is also concerned with emotions, values, ethics, standards, and long-term goals (Northouse, 2004). Recently, some researchers (Charbonnier-Voirin, et al., 2010) mentioned that transformational leaders might have a desire to customize coaching, which could be conducted through telling each associate’s unique capability and intelligence and inspiring each person’s innovation and critical thinking. The topic area has been widely discussed and analysed from many different sources and as such provides an interesting topic area to research and discuss further. This report will briefly introduce and outline the development of transformational leadership concept and theory, then examine the conceptual and empirical validity of transformational leadership in a global context. Initially, this report will begin with defining key terms in transformational leadership, compared with transactional leadership and other relevant concepts, in order to better understand the context of the text which will be covered. The Bass’s transformational model of leadership including its four components and the instrument relating to it, the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ), will then be reviewed. After that, both at conceptual and empirical level, analysis will be conducted to evaluate to what extent this model can help with the successful management of people at work, especially in cross-cultural environment. Finally, a summary will be conducted and further implications of findings will be suggested. Transformational Leadership Model and Measurement

Although Downton first created the term “transformational leadership” in 1973, not until 1978 when the political sociologist James MacGregor Burns’ book named Leadership was published, this approach had been emerged with its importance. In his work, Burns (1978) distinguished transactional and transformational leadership. The former one focuses on the social exchanges that occur between leaders and their followers, for example, politicians leading by “exchanging one thing for another: jobs for votes, or subsides for campaign contributions” (Burns 1978). On the other hand, the latter one refers to the process whereby an individual stimulates and inspires others and creates a connection that leads to an improvement of motivation, morality and capability in both leaders and followers (Northouse, 2004). At the same time, House (1976) coined a theory of charismatic leadership which received a widely attention in leadership academic world (Hunt and Conger, 1999). Later, this concept is often used as a similar term of transformational leadership. As House suggested, charismatic leaders act in unique ways and as personal characteristics affecting their followers. The specific characteristics include being dominant, self-confident, moral and so on (Northouse, 2004). A more expanded and refined version of transformational leadership was provided by Bass in 1985, which to some extent was based on the prior works of Burns (1978) and House (1976) (Northouse, 2004). Bass (2006) highlighted that, “to engage the follower in true commitment and involvement in the effort at hand”, leaders must deal with the follower’s sense of self-esteem, which was what transformational leadership went beyond the social exchange in transactional style. He also emphasized...
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