Transformational Leadership Literature Review

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  • Topic: Leadership, Management, Organizational studies and human resource management
  • Pages : 11 (3792 words )
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  • Published : July 24, 2012
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For centuries leaders have been analyzed in order to determine what the traits and characteristics of a successful leader are. Leadership, as defined by Koontz and Weihrich (2008) is “the art or a process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically toward the achievement of group goals” (p. 311). Leadership plays an important role in employee’s participation, creativity, recruitment to an organization, their commitment to the organization, and productivity levels. Over the years, there have been a number of theories surrounding leadership such as the “Great Man” theory, which, according to Riaz and Haider (2010), “assumes that leaders are born and have innate qualities, therefore, leaders cannot be made” (p. 2). Since the early 1970’s and 1980’s, the terms transformational leader and transactional leader have become the mainstream references for the differing types of leadership within corporations. While Transformational Leadership Theory was coined by James Burns in 1978, it was later enhanced in the published writings of Bernard Bass in the late 1980’s (Humphreys, 2002, p. 1). Transactional versus Transformational

Transactional leaders tend to focus more on delegating tasks to their employees and stepping in when deviations occur while subordinates do as they are told, not because of who told them, but because of the reward of a paycheck or to prevent reprimand (Eeden, Cilliers, and Deventer, 2008). Their authority is formal in that they have subordinates that carry out the work that is told to them. They put their trust in the employees to do the job they were hired for while spending their time determining the path the company should take in the future. A transactional manager may also derive his/her actions from the technique of managing by exception. This technique is based on the premise that the manager’s job is to not oversee the day-to-day tasks of every employee, but to only focus their attention on those issues that cause subordinates to fail in meeting planned performance levels. These types of managers who do not participate at all are many times referred to as laissez-faire leaders. According to Eeden, et. al (2008), “The leader leaves responsibility for the work to followers and avoids setting goals and clarifying expectations, organizing priorities, becoming involved when important issues arise, taking a stand on issues and making decisions.” This is a hands-off approach to managing. Employees are followers because of the autonomy they have within their roles. They have the freedom and authority to make decisions, establish goals and resolve problems. In doing so, the laissez-faire or transactional manager is able to avoid any conflicts that may arise. This style of management manages from a distance, whereas, a transformational leader develops a close personal working relationship with their employees. According to Eeden,, (2008), a transformational leader “shows a need for affiliation and being warm, accepting, and supportive in his or her interpersonal relationships.” They are concerned with the personal development of their employees. A transformational leader in a company is one who is able to not only establish the direction of the company and the reasons behind it, but also the direction of the goals and objectives that should be established. In so doing, a transformational leader’s employees become his/her followers and will actively participate to reach those objectives. A transformational leader committed to change, according to Herold, Fedor, Caldwell, & Liu, (2008) and Kotter (1996), “communicates the plan for the change, building a guiding coalition, developing a sense of urgency or a compelling rationale for the change, and providing support…” (p. 348). Transformational leaders are just what the term implies. They transform (or move) the organization and the human resources within it away from the status quo. By...
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