Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership (TL)

·         This has been the focus of research since the 1980s.

·         It is based on the "great man" theory, but does not assume that the leader must have all of the characteristics of the great man in order to be an effective leader.

·         Part of the "New Leadership" paradigm.

·         The transformational leader sees the need for change, expansion, or complete transformation in order to take the organization toward goals that others may not have even imagined. The transformational leader must have vision, problem-solving skills, and the ability to inspire followers to go beyond their current requirements, be creative, and change the way they think about their jobs. Based on these assumptions, many large companies attempt to identify potential transformational leaders early in their careers and provide them with a variety of assignments that will develop a very broad perspective. Although the concept of transformational leadership is difficult to define, the potential gains for the organization are worth the effort.

·         Gives more attention to charismatic and affective elements of leadership.

·         A third of the leadership research today is about "Transformational Leadership" (Lowe & Gardner, 2001)

·         It is a process that changes and transforms individuals.

·         It is concerned with emotions, values, ethics, standards, long-term goals.

·         It includes assessing followers motives, satisfying their needs, and treating them as human beings.

·         It works to influence followers on a 1:1 level, whole organizations, and entire cultures.

·         Both followers and leaders are bound together in the transformational process.

·         The term was coined by Downton (1973), but the emergence of the theory was through James MacGregor Burns in 1978.

o    Leaders are those who tap the motives of the followers in order to better reach the goals of the leaders and followers.

·         Burns distinguished between two types of leadership

o    Transactional

·         This is the bulk of leadership models which focuses on exchanges between leaders/followers.

·         Examples include politicians who win votes by promising less taxes or managers who offer promotions to employees who surpass their goals.

o    Transformational

·         Refers to the process where an individual engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both leader and follower.

·         This type of leadership helps followers reach their full potential.

·         Examples include Mohandas Gandhi or a manager who attempts to change their company's corporate values to reflect a more human standard of fairness and justice.


Transformational Leadership and Charisma - House

o    House published the charismatic Leadership in 1976.

o    Burns published a book in 1976 about the Transformational Leadership theory. It received a great

o    deal of attention.

o    The concept of "Charisma" was first used to describe a special gift that select individuals possess. It gives them extraordinary powers. It gives them superhuman exceptional powers. (Weber, 1947)

o    Weber recognized the important role played by followers in validating charisma.

o    The personal characteristics of a charisma leader include

o    Being dominant

o    Having strong desire to influence

o    Self-confident

o    Strong sense of one's own values

o    Charismatic leaders also

·         Strong role models for the beliefs and values they want their followers to adopt.

·         They appear competent.

·         They articulate ideological goals that have moral overtones (example: Martin Luther King)

·         Communicate high expectations to followers

·         They exhibit confidence in followers abilities to meet expectations. This increases the followers sense of competence and self-efficacy.

·         Arouse task relevant motives in followers including affiliation, power, esteem. (Example: JFK, appealing to values of the American people, Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.)

o    Effects of charismatic relationship according to House. These mostly occur in stressful situations.

·         Follower's trust in the leader's ideology.

·         Similarity between follower's and leader's beliefs.

·         Unquestioned acceptance of the leader.

·         Expression of warmth towards the leader.

·         Follower obedience.

·         Identification with the leader.

·         Emotional involvement in the leader's goals.

·         Heightened goals for the followers.

·         Follower's confidence in goal achievement.


Personality Characteristics


Effects on followers


Sets strong role model

Trust in Leader's ideology

Desire to influence

Shows Competence

Belief similarity between leader and follower


Articulates Goals

Unquestioning acceptance

Strong Values

Communicates High Expectations

Affection toward leader


Expresses Confidence



Arouses Motives

Identification with Leader



Emotional involvement



Heightened Goals



Increased confidence

House - Personal Characteristics for Charismatic Leaders.



A model of Transformational Leadership - Bass

o    (Bass, 1985) provided a more expanded version of the transformational leadership.

o    Bass extended Burn's theory by focusing more on followers rather than leaders' needs.

·         Suggested that TL could apply to situations to which the outcomes were not positive.

·         Contended that transactional and transformational leadership were on a single continuum.

o    Bass extended House's theory by giving more attention to the emotional elements and origins of charisma.

·         He suggested that charisma is  necessary , but not sufficient for transformational leadership.

o    Bass suggested that Transformational leadership motivates followers by:

·         Raising followers consciousness about the importance and value of idealized goals.

·         Getting followers to transcend their own self interest for the sake of the organization.

·         Moving followers to address higher level needs.


Transformational Leadership factors

o    TL is concerned with performance of the followers and developing them to their fullest potential (Avolio, 1999; Bass & Avolio, 1990). Individuals who exhibit TL often have a strong set of internal values and ideals, they are effective at motivating followers to act in ways that support te greater good rather than their own self-interest (Kuhnert, 1994).

o    There are 7 factors that are included in the transactional/transformational model.

·         Transformational  Leadership

·         Factor #1 - Idealized influence/Charisma

·         Factor #2 - Inspirational Motivation

·         Factor #3 - Intellectual Stimulation

·         Factor #4 - Individualized Consideration

·         Transactional  Leadership

·         Factor #5 - Contingent Reward, Constructive transactions

·         Factor #6 - Management by exception, Active and Passive corrective Transactions.

·         Laissez-Faire  Leadership

·         Factor #7 - Laissez-Faire non-transactional


o    Transformational  Leadership Factors (Very Effective)

Generally speaking, transactional leadership results in expected outcome while transformational leadership results go beyond the expectations.

·         Idealized Influence

·         Identifies leaders who are charismatic and are strong role models.

·         Followers identify with these leaders and want to emulate them.

·         Leader usually have very high standards and ethical conduct.

·         Leaders here can be counted on to do the right thing.

·         They are deeply respected by followers.

·         Followers place a great deal of trust in them.

·         These leaders provide followers with vision and a sense of mission.

·         Example: Nelson Mandela - Transformed and entire nation.

·         Inspirational Motivation

·         This is descriptive of leaders who communicate high expectations to followers and inspiring them through motivation to become committed.

·         These leaders use symbols and emotional appeals to focus group members' efforts to achieve more.

·         Team spirit is enhanced by this type of leadership.

·         Example: A sales manager who encourages his team through words to excel.

·         Intellectual Stimulation

·         Leadership that stimulates followers to be creative and innovative, and challenges their own beliefs.

·         Supports followers as they try new approaches and innovative ways.

·         It promotes problem solving.

·         Individualized Consideration

·         Representative of leaders who provide supportive climates where they listen carefully to the needs of followers.

·         They coach and advise while assisting followers to become fully actualized.

·         These leaders may use delegation as a mean to help followers grow.


o    Transactional Leadership Factors (Effective)

This differs from transformational in that the leader does not individualize the needs of the followers nor focus on their development. They are effective because it is in the best interest of the subordinates to do what the leader wants them to do. They essentially exchange things of value with subordinates.

·         Contingent Reward

·         Efforts by the followers are exchanged for a specific reward.

·         Example: A college dean who negotiates the number of publications needed for a promotion.

·         Management-by-exception

·         Refers to leadership that involves corrective criticism, negative feedback, and negative reinforcements.

·         Active Management-by-exception

·         An example is a  supervisor that closely monitors subordinate mistakes and makes corrective actions immediately.

·         Passive Management-by-exception

·         An example is a supervisor that monitors subordinates mistakes and gives a poor performance evaluation.

o    Non-Leadership Factors (Ineffective)

This is the absence of leadership.

·         Laissez-Faire

·         Abdicates responsibility.

·         Delay decisions.

·         Give no feedback.

·         Makes little or no efforts to help followers satisfy their needs.



Other models and perspective

The research of (Bennis & Nanus, 1985) and (Tichy & DeVanna, 1986, 1990) offered other perspectives. They used similar methodologies by interviewing a number of CEOs using unstructured open-ended questions.


Bennis and Nanus

o    They asked CEOs 90 questions such as What re your strengths and weaknesses? Events? Critical career points?, etc.

o    They identified 4 common strategies used by leaders to transform organizations

·         Clear vision of the future state of their organizations.

·         Visions are attractive, realistic, believable, understandable, beneficial and energy creating.

·         The compelling nature of the vision touched the experiences of followers.

·         The vision needs to grow out of the needs of the entire organization.

·         While leaders play a role in articulating the vision, it emerges from both leaders and followers.

·         These leaders were social architects of their organizations

·         Communicate direction that transforms the values and norms.

·         They move people to accept new group identity and philosophy of organizations.

·         These leaders create "Trust" in the organizations.

·          They make their position known and stand by it.

·         Being predictable and reliable.

·         When leaders create trust in the organizations, it establishes a sense of identity .

·         They use creative-deployment of self through positive self-regard.

·         Leaders knew their strengths and weaknesses.

·         They emphasized their strengths in instead of dwelling in their weaknesses.


Trichy and DeVanna

Similar to Bennis and Nanus, they studies 12 CEOs of mostly large corporations. They mostly focused on how leaders carried out the change process. They wanted to find out how leader bring change when working under challenging conditions such as increased competition, cultural changes, rapid technological changes, etc. They found out that leaders bring change through a 3 steps process.

o    Act 1 - Recognize the need for change

·         There is a tendency to be comfortable with the status quo and resist change.

·         The need for change sometimes go unrecognized.

·         These leaders are change agents.

·         Three techniques were suggested by Trichy and DeVanna to increase openness for change.

               Encourage dissent and allow people to disagree

               Encourage objective assessment of how well an organization is meeting it goals.

               Encourage members of the organizations to visit other organizations to obtain different view points.

o    Act 2 - The creation of the vision

·         A vision creates the conceptual roadmap where an organization is headed.

·         Develop a mission statement as it is the center piece of creating a vision.

o    Act 3 - Institutionalizing change

·         Leaders need to break down old structures and establish new ones.

·         Find new followers to implement new ideas.

·         May need to create a new coalition of followers to be compatible with the vision.


How does the Transformational theory work?

·         This theory is a broad-based approach that encompasses many facets and dimensions of leadership.

·         It describes how leaders can initiate, develop, and carry out significant changes in organizations.

·         It sets out to empower followers and nurture them, it raises their conciseness and transcend their own self interest for the sake of others.

·         Leaders become strong role models with a highly developed set of values, self-determined sense of identity, confident, competent, and articulate.

·         Followers want to emulate transformational leaders.

·         Leaders create a vision which becomes the focal point of the organization.

·         Out of uncertainty, transformational leaders create change.

·         Transformational leaders become social architects, clarifying the values and norms in an organization.

·         Transformational Leadership does not tell people what to do, but provides a broad set of generalizations. It does not tell the leader how they should act in a particular situation, but it provides a general way of thinking about leadership.

·         Transformational Leadership can be taught in organizations at all levels, affect performance, used in recruitment process, promotions, and training and development.

·         The training and development begins by basically working with leaders on their Vision/Mission statements.



·         It is a current model that has received a lot of attention by researchers and has been widely researched using qualitative studies of prominent CEOs.

·         It has a strong intuitive appeal. It is consistent with the society's popular notion of what leadership is. People are attracted to transformational leaders.

·         It emphasizes the importance of followers in the leadership process.

·         It goes beyond traditional transactional models and broadens leadership to include the growth of followers.

·         It places strong emphasis on morals and values.

·         There is substantial evidence that transformational leadership is an effective form of leadership (Yukl, 1999)



·         It lacks conceptual clarity because it covers many aspects (Creating visions, motivation, change agents, trust, social architects, etc.)

·         There are some doubts about the validity of the MLQ measuring transformational leadership.

·         It sometimes implies that transformational leadership has a trait-like quality. These leaders are often seen as visionaries.

·         It can be seen as elitist and undemocratic because the leaders create the vision and change directions.

·         Research data focus heavily on senior-level leaders. The data may apply to leaders of organizations and not necessarily leaders in organizations.

·         It has the potential to be abused because it is concerned with changing people's values and moving them to a new vision.


Leadership instrument

The MLQ is made up of questions that measures the leader's behavior and perception of the seven factors in the transformational leadership.  There is also an abbreviated version called MLQ-6S developed by Avolio in 1992.

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