Supervisor-Subordinate Relationships in Transformational Leadership and Leader-Member Exchange Model of Leadership: Differences and Similarities.

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Both transformational leadership and leader-member exchange leadership theories have been an issue of discussion for many scholars. The majority of authors agree that transformational leaders ‘have qualitatively different and quantitatively greater effects on their followers than the effects of exchange leaders’ (Gupta & Krishnan 2004, p.7). This essay builds on the existing literature about these two theories and will try to draw a parallel between LMX and transformational leadership, i.e. it will reveal the different and similar qualities of supervisor-subordinate relationships. Specifically, the essay focuses on the mechanism that each style of leadership uses in developing these relationships. That will actually help to find out some differences and similarities. This paper initially revisits the main aspects of transformational leadership and LMX leadership theories and then discusses them in relation to their capacity to develop differing qualities of supervisor-subordinate relationships.

In ‘Leader-Member Exchange, Transformational Leadership, and Value System’ Krishnan (2005) noted that according to Burns, ‘the result of transforming leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and convert leaders into moral agent’, which means that both leaders and team members offer one another. In this case, leaders serve their followers, create conditions for their further development, and make them feel free and independent in their work. Burns also claimed that ‘leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation’, i.e. the transformational leadership is possible because of both, the team members and leaders, become better and improve each other (Gupta & Krishnan 2004, p. 14). Bass further expanded the theory proposed by Burns and introduced it into the organizational context. He defined transformational leaders as leaders who motivate followers to do more than they expected to do initially. Transformational leaders are attentive to the team members needs; however, it takes time to develop strong emotional bonds between them. Nevertheless, leaders always encourage their followers to give their best. The leaders help people to look beyond their self-interest for the good of the whole group, organization, or society. They also help followers understand the need of emotional and intellectual change; commit to greatness that lies down in aspiration for business effectiveness ‘such as profits and high stock value, as well as impeccable ethics’(Dubrin et al 2006, p. 107). Owing to leaders, the team members know the goals and the ways to achieve them.

According to Bass’s (2003) conceptualization, transformational leadership consists of charisma, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and individualized consideration. Charismatic leaders appeal to group members on an emotional level. Followers trust in leaders and emotionally identify with the leader. The leaders have a clear vision and the respect, loyalty, and confidence of the team members. Transformational leaders also provide intellectual stimulation, which means that they stimulate and encourage creativity in their followers and ‘there is no ridicule or public criticism of individual members’ mistakes’ (Bass et al 2003, p. 208). In that case, leaders stir group members’ imagination and generate thoughts and acumen; team members, in their turn, offer fantastical and even queer ideas. Providing followers with inspiration motivation, transformational leaders inspire people; give a strong sense of purpose that drive team members forward; and arouse optimism about future goals. They prompt enthusiasm among subordinates for the work of the whole group. By using individualized consideration, leaders attend to each team member’s needs and concerns, that is, they give personal attention to each member. They help each follower get what he or she wants. Followers are treated as...
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