Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is a leadership style where one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. The term was used by James V. Downton in 1973 in "Rebel Leadership: Commitment and Charisma in a Revolutionary Process". [George R. Goethals, Georgia Jones Sorenson, James MacGregor Burns, (2004) "Encyclopedia of Leadership", Sage, p. 1558.)]

James MacGregor Burns (1978) first introduced the concepts of transformational and transactional leadership in his treatment of political leadership, but this term is now used in organizational psychology as well. According to Burns, the difference between transformational and transactional leadership is what leaders and followers offer one another. "Transforming leadership... occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. Their purposes, which might have started out as separate but related, as in the case of transactional leadership, become fused. Power bases are linked not as counterweights but as mutual support for common purpose. Various names are used for such leadership, some of them derisory: elevating, mobilizing, inspiring, exalting, uplifting, preaching, exhorting, evangelizing. The relationship can be moralistic, of course. But transforming leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the level of human conduct and ethical aspiration of both leader and led, and thus it has a transforming effect on both." (p. 20)

Transformational leaders offer a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order intrinsic needs. This results in followers identifying with the needs of the leader. The four dimensions of transformational leadership are "idealized influence" (or "charisma"), "inspirational motivation", "intellectual stimulation" and "individual consideration".

Charisma or idealized influence

The degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways that cause followers to identify with the leader. Charismatic leaders display convictions, take stands and appeal to followers on an emotional level. This is about the leader having a clear set of values and demonstrating them in every action, providing a role model for their followers.

Inspirational motivation

The degree to which the leader articulates a vision that is appealing and inspiring to followers. Leaders with inspirational motivation challenge followers with high standards, communicate optimism about future goals, and provide meaning for the task at hand. Followers need to have a strong sense of purpose if they are to be motivated to act. Purpose and meaning provide the energy that drives a group forward. It is also important that this visionary aspect of leadership be supported by communication skills that allow the leader to articulate his or her vision with precision and power in a compelling and persuasive way.

Intellectual stimulation

The degree to which the leader challenges assumptions, takes risks and solicits followers' ideas. Leaders with this trait stimulate and encourage creativity in their followers.

Individualized consideration or individualized attention

The degree to which the leader attends to each follower's needs, acts as a mentor or coach to the follower and listens to the follower's concerns and needs. This also encompasses the need to respect and celebrate the individual contribution that each follower can make to the team (it is the diversity of the team that gives it its true strength).

Apart from its central role in transformational leadership theory, charismatic leadership has been the basis of its own distinct literature (Weber, 1921/1947, House (1997). Transformational leadership and charismatic leadership theories have much in common and compliment each other in important ways.

Psychology of transformational leadership

A leader who can instill passion and direction to a group of individuals requires an understanding of how the psychology of a group affects the members of the group.

When leaders change their actions in accordance with their awareness of what those actions really mean, they affect the emotional and perceptive affects on a group. By taking control of the standard reactions to the actions of the group, a leader can in effect change the psychology of the group and change the culture of the organization.

According to research conducted by Dr. Igor Kotlyar and Dr. Len Karakowsky (York University, Toronto), transformational leadership can be a liability in the context of decision-making groups, such as executive teams [Igor Kotlyar, [ Falling Over Ourselves to Follow the Leader] , "Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies", Vol. 14, No. 1, 38-49 (2007); Igor Kotlyar and Leonard Karakowsky, [ Leading Conflict? Linkages Between Leader Behaviors and Group Conflict] , "Small Group Research", Vol. 37, No. 4, 377-403 (2006).]


*Kotlyar, I. & Karakowsky, L. (2006). Leading Conflict? Linkages Between Leader Behaviors and Group Conflict. Small Group Research, Vol. 37, No. 4, 377-403
*Kotlyar, I., & Karakowsky, L. (2007). Falling Over Ourselves to Follow the Leader. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, 38-49
*Albritton, R. L. (1998). A new paradigm of leader effectiveness for academic libraries: An empirical study of the Bass (1985) model of transformational leadership. In T.F. Mech & G.B. McCabe (Eds.), "Leadership and academic librarians" (pp. 66-82) . Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998.
*Bass, B. M. (1998). "Transformational leadership: Industrial, military, and educational impact". Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
*Bass, B.M. & Avolio, B.J. (Eds.). (1994). "Improving organizational effectiveness through transformational leadership". Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
*Burns, J.M. (1978) Leadership. New York. Harper & Row.
*Pielstick, C.D. (1998). The transforming leader: A meta-ethnographic analysis. "Community College Review", 26(3), 15-34.
*Yukl, G.A. (1999). An evaluation of conceptual weaknesses in transformational and charismatic leadership theories. "Leadership Quarterly", 10(2), 285-305.

External links

* [ Transformative Leadership M.A. online program CIIS]
* [ Application of Transformational Leadership in an Academic Library]
* [ Transformational Leadership]
* [ MA Transformational Leadership Bethel Seminary]

ee also

*Transactional leadership

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