Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Link between Transformational Leadership and Teachers' Job Satisfaction, Commitment, Motivation to Learn, and Trust in the Leader

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Link between Transformational Leadership and Teachers' Job Satisfaction, Commitment, Motivation to Learn, and Trust in the Leader

Article excerpt


Transformational leadership refers to a popular conception of leadership which has been investigated in both educational and business contexts. According to Bass and Avolio (1994), a transformational leader forms an organizational vision which goes beyond existing systems and practices. In this context, the leader is prepared to take risks in order to encourage change and innovation. Moreover, leaders support and motivate followers so that the latter exceed their original goals and create an organizational climate which respects individual needs and differences. Through a culture of collaboration, leaders and followers focus on the common good and the accomplishment of the goals of the organization.

Contemporary research on transformational leadership has attempted to examine the effect of transformational leadership behaviors and practices on educational outcomes. These outcomes include student achievement as well as teacher-related variables such as job satisfaction and professional commitment. Research on transformational leadership generally assumes that transformational behaviors and practices will result in educational effectiveness and satisfaction on the part of teachers and/or followers. An overview of the literature is necessary in order to determine the extent to which this assumption is correct.

The paper aims to provide an overview of recent research on the effects of transformational leadership on teacher-related outcomes and specifically on teachers' job satisfaction, teachers' motivation to learn, teachers' trust in their school leader and teachers' commitment to their organization. The overview includes recent studies (mainly after 2000) conducted in different countries. Even though studies using various methodological approaches are included in the review, there is an emphasis on studies using advanced quantitative research techniques such as structural equation modeling which can produce more reliable findings. The implications of the findings for educational policy and future research on the topic are discussed.


One of the forms of leadership which has been investigated in recent decades is transformational leadership. It constitutes a popular subject in the fields of psychology, administration, sociology and education (Yammarino, Spangler, & Bass, 1993). It is considered to be a process that changes and transforms people and organizations (Northhouse, 1997). Transformational leadership is defined as "...a process where leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation" (Burns, 1978, p. 20).

According to Hall, Johnson, Wysocki, and Kepner (2008), transformational leadership refers to a process which changes and converts individuals and organizations. Specifically, transformational leadership refers to the ability to prompt individuals to want to change and improve. It includes the evaluation of motives and needs of members of the organization and the satisfaction of their needs. Transformational leadership is the process through which an individual commits himself/herself to the well-being of the organization and creates connections which increase the level of motives and morale of subordinates. It is the leadership style which takes into account the needs of employees while being sensitive to the differences that exist in an organization.

Bass and his colleagues (see, for example, Bass & Avolio, 1994) proposed five factors as the main dimensions of transformational leadership:

1. Attributed idealized influence (the degree to which followers consider leaders to be trustworthy, with charisma, a clear and attainable mission, and a vision for the organization).

2. Idealized influence as behavior (actual leader behavior characterized by values and a sense of purpose).

3. Inspirational motivation (the behavior of the leader which serves as a source of inspiration for followers by providing them with meaning and challenge). …

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