Transformational vs Transactional Leadership

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Transformational versus Transactional Leadership

Leadership and Team Development-Fall 2011


This research paper addresses various aspects of transformational and transactional leadership styles. It mainly presents a comparative overview of these leadership styles. Further, it talks about an example of each transformational and transactional leadership in real-world. This leads to mentioning various applications that each leadership style finds in today’s business. Analysis of strengths and weaknesses or potential growth areas of both leadership styles is mentioned to help in better understanding of the subject. At last, the paper concludes with some discusses if knowing one’s leadership style and leadership style of your leader is important or not.

In today’s volatile economy, the business is rapidly changing and getting more competitive with each passing day. Therefore, in order to survive in this market, the organizations need to continuously come out with innovative solutions. In these situations, transformational leaders play a vital role by encouraging creativity from their followers and maximizing their performance and productivity. On the other hand, transactional leaders are needed to maintain the stability and achieve goals on a regular basis. In order to analyze or compare these two styles of leadership, a brief introduction to both the styles is needed.

Transformational Leader
According to Bernard Bass, “Transformational leadership is a form of leadership that occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees, when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and the mission of the group, and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group.” Transformational leaders are characterized by the following four major characteristics of their leadership also known as four I’s: 1) Idealized influence or Charisma

According to Bass, transformational leadership is based on two factors: the attitude or behavior of the leader and what the followers think of the leader. Usually, transformational leaders behave in such a way that tunes their followers to believe that the leader has exceptional qualities. These leaders generally gain positional powers due to their personality. Due to their charisma, transformational leaders influence their followers on an emotional level thereby developing a relationship of trust and respect.

2) Inspirational motivation
The transformational leaders inspire and motivate their followers by establishing a clear goal of achieving the follower’s needs and objectives. The leaders are admired by their followers. These leaders encourage their followers by addressing their needs and taking risks to solve their problems. They always preach optimism to their followers and keep the team spirit alive. 3) Intellectual stimulation

This quality of transformational leaders encourages creativity in their followers. They motivate the followers to approach a particular problem in a different way without condemning their ideas. They help their followers to develop new and innovative methods of approaching a problem by questioning their assumptions. 4) Individualized consideration or individualized attention

This character makes the transformational leader act as a mentor or guru. The leaders understand the need for individual attention. These leaders follow the principle of ‘managing by walking around’, where the leaders have one to one interaction with their followers or employees of the organizations and the leaders concentrate on their individual needs.

Different types of transformational leaders
Generally transformational leaders are divided into the following four types: 1. Intellectuals: These leaders visualize paths that can address everybody’s needs. They usually have a higher moral purpose and have the capability to change the society. Examples: Madison, Bentham etc....
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