The Ethics of Transformational Leadership
Bernard M. Bass
In the early 1980s, when an author submitted a manuscript for publication dealing with transformational leadership, one reviewer asked critically "What's different about transformational leadership? Isn't leadership completely covered by the two factors of initiation and consideration?" Since then, a host of empirical and theoretical articles and books have appeared using the transactional/transformational paradigm. They strongly support the efficacy of the conceptualization and utility of the contribution of transformational leadership to organizational performance. Nonetheless, an alarm has sounded by one critic over the "obsession" with transformational leadership ( Gronn 1995) and its ethics have been questioned by several others such as Keeley ( 1995). And yet, it was conceived as leadership that involved the moral uplifting of followers ( Burns 1978) and that required moral maturity ( Kuhnert and Lewis 1987).
Critics fault the morality of transformational leadership for communications that may border on the unethical; for failing to consider the needs for countervailing power embodied in transactional exchanges, controls, and contracts; for appearing to the critics to be inconsistent