Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a style of leadership where one person takes control of a situation and motivates the group to follow. A transformational leader is generally energetic, enthusiastic and possesses a passion for the task at hand. They are not only focused on completing the task but also helping every member of the group to succeed by enhancing their morale. Through their personality, strength of vision and enthusiasm, transformational leaders can make ideal role models. This leadership style requires managers to use their ethics, character, personal integrity, and morality to bring about change in individuals and social systems, optimizing a group's overall performance.

The original concept of transformational leadership was created by leadership expert James MacGregor Burns in 1978. He believed "leaders and followers make each other advance to a higher level of moral and motivation." He claimed the ability to inspire followers could change their expectations, perceptions and motivations, leading them to work towards a common goal as well as developing and increasing employee satisfaction.

In 1985, researcher Bernard M. Bass expanded upon Burns' idea to develop his own Transformational Leadership Theory. He claimed transformational leaders succeed by gaining the trust, respect and admiration of their followers. Bass's conceptualization of transactional and transformational leadership included seven leadership factors, which he labelled charisma, inspirational, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, contingent reward, management-by-exception and laissez-faire leadership. In further writings in 1988, Bass noted that although charismatic and inspirational leadership were unique constructs, they were often not empirically distinguishable, thus reducing his original multifactor model to six factors.

He also suggested there were four main components to transformational leadership, the first being intellectual stimulation. Transformational leaders are not only required to challenge the status quo and traditional ways of carrying out tasks, but inspire creativity among their followers by encouraging them to find new ways to complete projects. Individualized consideration is the second component in transformational leadership according to Bass. By offering encouragement and support to followers by keeping the lines of communication open, team members feel comfortable sharing any new ideas they may have on how to tackle a project. Thirdly, transformational leaders use inspirational motivation by clearly sharing their vision of how a project will succeed, which in turn inspire followers to be motivated to carry out the task to a high standard. And lastly, the idealized influence a transformational leader possesses will inspire followers to succeed by emulating and internalizing the managers ideals and making them their own.

In 1994, Gary Yuki of the State University of New York at Albany further expanded how to use transformational leadership in the workplace. He came up with five main goals a manager should use to make the management tool a success. He suggested greater success could be achieved if the transformational leader developed a challenging and attractive vision together with the employees. He expanded if the leader tied the vision to a strategy, along with developing how the vision would translate it into actions, this would inspire workers to excel. Yuki added expressing confidence, decisiveness and optimism about the vision and its implementation would also help the project to succeed, before concluding it was essential to realize the vision through small planned steps and small successes in the path for its full implementation to inspire followers.

The success of transformational leadership is measured by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. The current MLQ form has 36 items which are broken down into nine scales with four items measuring each scale. The form identifies the characteristics of a transformational leader and helps individuals discover how they measure up in their own eyes and in the eyes of those with whom they work, with success being measured through a retesting program to track changes in leadership style.

However, there has been criticism levelled at this method of managing. Dr Hans-Joachim Wolfram, a lecturer in occupational psychology, research methods, leadership, HRM and organization at Kingston Business School, London and Professor Gisela Mohr who teaches in the psychology department at University of Leipzig found transformational leadership can be damaging for followers. When they analyzed the managerial style in 2009, they found a negative interrelation between transformational leadership and team goal fulfilment when followers scored higher than their managers on subjective meaning of work and when followers were more emotionally irritated than their managers. They concluded to increase transformational leadership's positive effects, managers should show appreciation of work values, and their followers' level of exhaustion should be kept to a minimum.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Developing Potential across a Full Range of Leadership: Cases on Transactional and Transformational Leadership
Bruce J. Avolio; Bernard M. Bass.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002
Improving Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations
Ronald E. Riggio; Sarah Smith Orr.
Jossey-Bass, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Transformational Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations"
Ethics, the Heart of Leadership
Joanna B. Ciulla.
Praeger, 2004 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Part IV "Puzzles and Perils of Transformational Leadership"
Transformational Leadership: Industrial, Military, and Educational Impact
Bernard M. Bass.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Determinants of Transformational Leadership and Organizational Citizenship Behavior
Krishnan, Venkat R.; Arora, Pooja.
Asia-Pacific Business Review, Vol. 4, No. 1, January-March 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Transformational Leadership, Team Goal Fulfillment, and Follower Work Satisfaction: The Moderating Effects of Deep-Level Similarity in Leadership Dyads
Wolfram, Hans-Joachim; Mohr, Gisela.
Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3, February 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Relationship of Transformational Leadership with Group Cohesiveness and Emotional Intelligence
Wang, Yung-Shui; Huang, Tung-Chun.
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, Vol. 37, No. 3, April 2009
In the Eyes of the Beholder: Transformational Leadership, Positive Psychological Capital, and Performance
Gooty, Janaki; Gavin, Mark; Johnson, Paul D.; Frazier, M. Lance; Snow, D. Bradley.
Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Vol. 15, No. 4, May 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Transformational Leadership in the Classroom: Fostering Student Learning, Student Participation, and Teacher Credibility
Bolkan, San; Goodboy, Alan K.
Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 36, No. 4, December 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Emotional Intelligence and Transformational and Transactional Leadership: A Meta-Analysis
Harms, P. D.; Crede, Marcus.
Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1, February 2010
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Future of Leadership Development
Susan Elaine Murphy; Ronald E. Riggio.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Toward a Broader Leadership Development Agenda: Extending the Traditional Transactional– Transformational Duality by Developing Directive, Empowering, and Shared Leadership Skills"
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