Relations and Effects of Transformational Leadership: A Comparative Analysis with Traditional Leadership Styles

By Molero, Fernando; Cuadrado, Isabel et al. | The Spanish Journal of Psychology, July 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Relations and Effects of Transformational Leadership: A Comparative Analysis with Traditional Leadership Styles


Molero, Fernando, Cuadrado, Isabel, Navas, Marisol, Morales, J. Francisco, The Spanish Journal of Psychology


This study has two main goals: (a) to compare the relationship between transformational leadership and other important leadership styles (i.e., democratic versus autocratic or relations- and taskoriented leadership) and (b) to compare the effects of transformational leadership and the other styles on some important organizational outcomes such as employees' satisfaction and performance. For this purpose, a sample of 147 participants, working in 35 various work-teams, was used. Results show high correlations between transformational leadership, relations-oriented, democratic, and task-oriented leadership. On the other hand, according to the literature, transformational leadership, especially high levels, significantly increases the percentage of variance accounted for by other leadership styles in relevant organizational outcome variables (subordinates' performance, satisfaction and extra effort).

Keywords: transformational leadership, autocratic and democratic leadership, relationshiporiented and task-oriented leadership

El presente trabajo persigue dos objetivos principales: (a) comparar las relaciones del liderazgo transformacional con otros estilos de liderazgo clásicos en la literatura organizacional, tales como el liderazgo democrático versus autocrático o el orientado a la tarea-orientado a las relaciones y (b) comparar los efectos del liderazgo transformacional y los estilos de liderazgo mencionados sobre la satisfacción y la eficacia de los empleados. Para cumplir dichos objetivos se seleccionó una muestra de 147 participantes que trabajaban en 35 equipos de trabajo diferentes. Los resultados demuestran la existencia de correlaciones muy elevadas entre el liderazgo transformacional, el liderazgo orientado a las relaciones, el liderazgo democrático y el liderazgo orientado a la tarea. También se encuentra que, tal como predice la literatura, el liderazgo transformacional, sobre todo en niveles altos, aumenta significativamente el porcentaje de varianza explicado por los otros estilos en algunas variables de resultado organizacional importantes (la ejecución de subordinados, satisfacción y esfuerzo extra).

Palabras clave: liderazgo transformacional, liderazgo autocrático y democrático, liderazgo orientado a la tarea y liderazgo orientado a las relaciones

In the last two decades, the study of transformational leadership has become one of the main paradigms when addressing leadership within organizations. The term transformational leadership was created by the politologist, Burns, in 1978, but was subsequently developed by Bernard M. Bass and colleagues, until it reached its current importance (Avolio & Yammarino, 2002; Bass, 1985, 1999). According to Bass, there are two types of leadership: transformational and transactional. Through transformational leadership, the leader achieves important changes in the values and attitudes of the followers, as well as a notable improvement in their performance. Transactional leadership, in contrast, is based on the exchange of rewards between the leader and the followers.

At the theoretical level, this distinction between transformational leadership and transactional leadership is the key to Bass' theory. Readers are reminded that until the 80s, the notion of leadership based on exchange was predominant within social psychology. From this viewpoint, it was assumed that when the leaders or supervisors were able to provide their subordinates with adequate rewards, the subordinates would, in turn, give them their support and carry out their work. However, for Bass, the theories and studies based on exchange were missing something when explaining "high-level leadership", that is, leadership capable of achieving really important changes, both in the followers and in the organization.

This kind of leadership, also called charismatic leadership, had not been addressed by social and organizational psychology because it was considered an exceptional phenomenon, and, consequently, impossible to measure by questionnaires or to manipulate in experimental studies. …

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