Transformational and Inspirational Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Management, Situational leadership theory Pages: 11 (2637 words) Published: December 9, 2008
1. Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to critically analyse the concept of transformational leadership, and to examine why many consider it as being overshadowed by inspirational leadership.

In order to do that, the assignment starts with a general idea of Leadership, and differentiating it from Management, as many confuse them as the same thing.

An explanation of how authors like Burns and Bass wrote about Transformational Leadership, and pointing out its differences from transactional leadership. Continuing by defining transformational leadership and analysing its components, as well as a demonstration of how authors like Bass and Yukl contributed to the idea, followed by a critical analysis to the topic.

In the second part of the paper, there is a brief explanation of Inspirational Leadership, comparing it with transformational leadership, trying to identify the reasons that many consider inspirational leadership is overshadowing the transformational leadership.

The third part follows, outlining conclusions towards future leadership approaches, followed by the Summary.

2. Defining Leadership

Many researchers and writers have explored the area of Leadership throughout the years, but yet there is no one single definition that describes it precisely. Leadership is continuously evolving, and one of the restraints of explaining, as Georgiades states (1998), is that our images of leadership are entirely personal. Therefore, everyone has a different perception of leadership. Crainer points out that there are about 400 definitions related with leadership (Mullins, 2007). However, Mullins (2007) defines merely leadership as: the relationship through which one person influences the behavior or actions of other people.

Another definition of leadership given by Robbins (sited in Capon) is “the ability to influence a group towards the achievement of goals”, completing that many times leadership is associated with the role of manager. There are loads of definitions, depending of the point of view that it is examined. However, as time changes, definitions of leadership will continuously change, in order to adopt the new trends of the society, and fit itself to it.

2.1. Leadership vs Management

A large number of people ignores the difference between leadership and management, and assume that either they have the same meaning, or that a manager must necessary be a leader as well. If someone is characterized as a leader, does not necessarily mean that (s)he is a manager, and the other way around. A manager is not necessarily a leader. Although it seems like common sense now, only in 1977 by Zaleznik and one year later (1978) by Burns later it was first argued academically that these concepts were not the one and the same. Zaleznik pointed out that management and leadership differ in their attitudes toward goals: Managers tend to adopt impersonal, if not passive, attitudes toward goals. Managerial goals arise out of necessities rather than desires and, therefore, are deeply embedded in their organization's history and culture.

Leaders think about goals. They are active instead of reactive, shaping ideas instead of responding to them. Leaders adopt a personal and active attitude toward goals. The influence a leader exerts in altering moods, in evoking images and expectations, and in establishing specific desires and objectives determines the direction a business takes. The net result of this influence changes the way people think about what is desirable, possible, and necessary (Zaleznik, 1977).

While Burns pointed out the difference between managers and leaders as well, but, unlike Zaleznik, he argued that both (managers and leaders) were necessary. He addressed them as transformational leaders, and transactional managers.

Transformational leaders do things that change the organization, while Transactional managers keep the organization going the same direction (Burns,1978)


References: Ader J. (2002) Inspiring Leadership: learning from great leaders, London : Thorogood
Avolio, B.J
Bass, B.M. and Avolio, B.J., (1990) Multifactor leadership questionnaire, Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA.
Bass, B.M. and Avolio, B.J.,(1994) Improving Organizational Performance Trough Transformational Leadership, Sage
Bass, B.M
Burns, J.M. (1978) Leadership, Harper and Row
Capon C
Mullins, Laurie J., 2007, Management and organisational behavior 8th edition, Financial Times, Prentice Hall
Kirkbride P
Rahan, A’(2002) Meaning of Leadership in 2002, Professional Manager
Yukl G
Yukl G. (2006), Leadership in Organisations 6th edition, Prentice Hall
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