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Transformational Leadership Style: Benefits for Women Essay

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Updated: Jan 27th, 2020

Introduction

Leadership is one of the most important factors in the history of humankind. The history of leadership can be traced back to the origin of humanity. Man has always cherished the art of leadership. According to Garner (2000, p. 7), leadership is always viewed as an inborn quality of a person.

It is the ability of an individual to offer guidance and direction to others. This scholar says that leadership though can be learned through a process of induction or general classroom session, it is a trait that some individuals are naturally born with. He however states that this does not mean that all leaders are born.

For a long time, leadership has been a preserve for men. In many societies across the world, men have always been considered as the heads of various organizations, from such small set-ups like homes, to religious groupings and even kingdoms and empires.

Women have been considered as weaker sex, always expected to be at home to care for children. The society viewed women as people who are not in a position to make concrete decision that would help the society forge ahead. Banutu (2004, p. 145) says that this was attributed to the kind of society that people lived in.

By then, the wellbeing of the society depended on the ability of that society to fight successfully in battles that were very common. This scholar notes that communities would fight for the grazing ground, settlements and even wealth. A leader would be expected to be at the frontline of the battles, directing the worriers on how to attack the enemies. Success of a leader would be determined by how frequent he would win the battles.

Naturally, women are physically weak. This was the genesis of the society’s view that women cannot manage leadership. Yukongdi (2010, p. 171) says that because women were physically weak and could not go to the battlefields, they could not offer advice on how well the society could best attack and win battles and come back with wealth because they lacked experience.

This made the society despise them even further. The more they were pushed away from leadership, the more they became irrelevant in the same, and the more they became convinced that they could not make any worthy leaders.

The First and the Second World Wars however, marked the difference of this notion. When the men went to fight in foreign countries, they left women to take care of the families. At first, women thought that their new role as heads of families was a bit weird. They were not used to it.

However, as time went by, they became accustomed to it and realized that they could make as good heads of the family, just as men. The situation at the battlefields enhanced their leadership capacities. A good number of men who went to the battlefields were killed, forcing their wives to permanently take the leadership positions. It is from this moment that women considered the fact that they could equally make good leaders, just as their male counterparts.

The mid of 19th century was a real revolution on leadership. Women were increasingly getting into leadership position at an increasingly faster rate. Education also played an important role in this. The society, especially the western countries came to appreciate the need to take women to school. Having realized the important role they played during the world wars, the society welcomed the need to offer the girl-child good education, just as the boys.

This provided the environment for the female society members to show their prowess in leadership. Although the society is yet to accept fully women as people who can make good leaders, they have softened their stand on this position. This paper seeks to evaluate critically the notion that transformational leadership style is particularly beneficial for women because it is not a markedly masculine style.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership involves the leader igniting the followers through motivation and enthusiasm. It is the type of leadership where the leader brings hope and vision to the followers, making them feel that they can achieve the task and get the best of the expected results. According to Armstrong (2001, p. 46), transformational leadership refers to that leadership style where the leader brings the best out of the followers through speech and actions.

Talking alone is not enough to make one a transformational leader. This scholar insists that the speech must be followed by an example. The leader would only be in a position to show other the vision by doing those things that demonstrate the same. This argument is supported by Blumenthal (2005, p. 57) who says that hypocrisy has no place in transformational leadership.

In transformational leadership, a leader would come out strongly to bring in new ideas of doing things. It is about bringing in positive change to society that is, in a way that people will least expect. It is about being creative and innovative. This is why the actions of the leader and the words must match for such a leader to be relevant. This is the reason why hypocrites cannot make good leaders.

Transformational leadership is one of the most recent forms of leadership. This is a type of leadership, always considered to constitute democratic leadership, where the leader makes the followers feel that they can achieve, that they are the best, a leadership style that Spears (2009, p. 12) describes is the ability to make people burn with the desire to achieve even the toughest of the task.

This scholar further describes transformational leadership as the ability of the leader to impart a positive attitude on the followers, and the feeling that they, through actions of courage and hard work, can only achieve success

Relevance of Transformational Leadership in the Current Society

In the current society, transformational leadership has been considered the most relevant form of leadership. It has come out clearly those archaic forms of leaderships like dictatorship has no place in the current society. Within the family level, to the organizational and even national and international levels, democracy is gaining popularity and transformational leadership that is shaping everything. Within the family set-ups, it is no longer a one-man show.

Both partners in the family must embrace the importance of sharing in ideas. It is only through this that peace would prevail. In an organizational level, the leader must embrace the culture of consultation with other members of the group for the organization to achieve its objectives within the shortest period possible.

Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple Inc was fired from this firm when he became too dictatorial on the employees of this firm. The policies that he was proposing were transformational, and the fact that he would insist that nothing was impossible, was very encouraging. However, he only missed one aspect of transformational leadership, a fact that destroyed all the positive aspects that he had.

He failed to make his followers see his vision. The employees did not imagine that what he was saying was possible, and instead of making them believe through speech and example, he used threats and coercion. These are complete opposites of features of transformational leadership.

However, when he was recalled to the firm several years after, he had completely transformed into a transformational leader. He made his followers clearly see his vision. He made them believe that they could be the best in the industry (Deci & Ryan 1985, p. 67). He actually transformed their attitude to success: that success is what you make it, and it would not come on a silver platter, not even in a single day.

This is what transformed Apple. This leadership style is what made Apple to beat Microsoft in profits and in revenue in the financial year of 2010. This leadership style made this company to be named as the one of the most innovative firms in the world, when they introduced the iMacs and the iPhones.

This type of leadership is the driving force that has held together this firm to be a success even today, a couple of years since this great leader’s demise. This is a clear indication that the current society largely relies on this type of leadership to create a turn around to those organizations that are underperforming, and to propel further those that either are doing well or are averagely performing.

Women and Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is one of the best forms of leadership that women can employ to achieve the desired objectives. From the comprehensive definition of transformational leadership done above, it is clear that transformational leadership entails imparting hope among the followers through speech and actions.

For a very long time, leadership has been a preserve for men. Even in the current enlightened world where people believe that both genders are equal and that leadership should not be based narrowly on gender but on personal attributes of an individual, many people (both men and women) are still not convinced that women can make as good leaders as men, or even better. As Avolio and Yammarino (2008, p. 89) observe some societies still hold women with very low esteem.

This sentiment is reiterated by Bass (1990, p. 63) who says that Saudi Arabia in specific, still consider women as people who cannot make decision on their own. This scholar points out to the fact that this society prohibits women from driving a car. The law also states that women cannot travel out of the country without the permission of their mahrams (husbands or close male relatives) unless they are above 49 years.

The clause that allowed female members of the society above 49 years to travel without such permission was introduced just recently due to international pressure (Spears 1998, p. 89). In such circumstance, a mother would be forced to ask for permission from her son in order to make such decision as travelling abroad. In such a society, it would be a dream to think of a women being a leader.

However, things are changing very first even in this society. The King recently appointed a woman to serve in his cabinet. Only transformational leadership can help this woman serve in the cabinet and adequately lead the ministry that has almost over 90 percent of the top ranking officers being men. This woman can help transform the attitude of the society towards women. She can help bring the society to the understanding that women can make good leaders by employing the principles of transformational leadership.

The first principle of transformational leadership is intellectual stimulation. This principle is not masculine in any nature. This principle tries to challenge status quo and encourages creativity among the followers. This principle would help challenge the status quo of this country where men dominate all-important sectors of the economy.

This principle emphasizes on the importance of the leader making a turn-around on the way things are done and brings in new methods, which would enhance increased productivity of the followers. This principle would beneficial to such a woman in ensuring that the society does not only trust her leadership prowess, but also extends this trust to other women of this society to make this country accept the clarion call that men and women are equal in all respects (Banutu-Gomez 2004, p. 150).

The other principle of this type of leadership is individualized consideration. This principle holds that each individual is unique in one way or the other. As a leader, it is important to ensure that all the followers are given individualized attention. A leader should be open to all, and listen to the followers as individuals, always responding to their needs in as unique a manner as are the individuals themselves (Bardes, Mayer, & Piccolo 2008, p. 187).

This principle of transformational leadership is very important to a woman because this way, this female leader would be showing the followers that she has their interest at heart, and that the actions that she would take as a leader, would be guided by the desires of the followers.

This principle would also allow such a leader express herself to the followers, a fact that would facilitate mutual understanding in the organization. She would be able to elaborate the strategic goals and objectives of the organization to the followers, and get their feelings on the strategies employed by the management in achieving this goal.

Their contribution would be of great help in ensuring harmony in the firm and ensuring that all the followers’ goals are aligned to that of the organization. This principle would also endear the leader to the followers, by making them feel cherished by the management. Bird (197, p. 34) says that this is a very important tool of leadership, especially to a woman.

That in itself is a security. Women may be vulnerable to such unethical practices as coup, or conspiracy to sabotage her efforts by other members of the organization who might be eying the post. However, when this policy is employed, such a leader would be sure of protection from the masses. This scholar says that with the masses, a leader would be safe.

The third principle is inspirational motivation. This principle holds that a leader should have a clear vision for the organization. The principle also stipulates that the leader should be in a position to stipulate clearly this vision to the followers in such a way that it would arouse the desire in the followers to see its realization. A leader should have policies that when implemented, would bear fruits that would help transform the organization.

A female leader can adopt this principle to develop ideas that would result in positive results when implemented. Margret Thatcher, the first female prime minister of Britain used this principle to transform positively this country. Boroski and Greif (2009, p. 19) observed that when Thatcher took over power, a number of people were skeptical about her ability to lead this nation. However, she was able to prove them wrong when she came with very vision as to where she wanted this country to be by the end of her term as the prime minister.

This saw her gain the trust of not only the lawmakers and the cabinet, but also the entire nation. Hannay (2009, p. 72) describes Thatcher as a transformational leader who re-engineered almost every aspect of the Great Britain, from the economy, to the political front and even the social front.

She came to power when the economy was dwindling, and made a turnaround to make this country become one of the most prosperous European nations of that time. Through this vision, and her ability to make followers share in her vision, she won three successive terms, leaving a legendary political career that is unmatched in all the European countries practicing democracy in the since the nineteenth century. Simply put, she remains an enigma, admired by all who knew her or have come to hear of her.

Another such visionary female leader was Condoleezza Rice, the first black female Secretary of states for the United States. Her ability to articulate her vision to others leaves no doubt that transformational leadership is the best form of leadership that women should employ.

The last principle of transformational leadership is idealized influence. It has always been said that a leader should be a role model. A leader should always be the figure that everyone would want to associate with. It is always very difficult to represent an ideal world. Bass (1985, p. 71) says that ideal world only exists in the mind.

This scholar argues that although human being can always try to make perfect, his or her actions to be as close as possible to that viewed as ideal, being the ideal person is not possible. As long as a person has the eyes to desire and a tongue to talk, he or she can always demand for the right. Inasmuch as Wren (1995, p. 43) agrees with this statement in parts, this scholar says that ideal, as a condition or situation, starts and ends in the mind.

It starts by a person imagining how an ideal person should be and end when the mind is convinced that the person has behaved in a manner that was expected of him or her. As a leader therefore, it is important to set the standards of an ideal person within the limits that are reachable. Make the individuals have their ideal person in their mind to the capacity that is reachable, and live up to the expectations. In an organization, the manager is the leader of the organization that everyone would want to emulate.

His or her actions, whether managerial or otherwise, should live up to the expectations of the congregations. This principle, according to Volckmann (2009, p. 2), is where women would beat men when it comes to being an ideal person. This sentiments are supported by Yukl (1989, p. 289) who says that women are always better placed to suppressed their desires than men do.

A woman would be in a position to restrain from tempting action even if they have very strong desires, thereby being seen as ideal persons, unlike men. The weakest nature of man that has made him not be seen as ideal is the inability to resist sexual desires (Annette & Clifford 2010, p. 6).

It is very rare to hear cases of women in managerial positions being charged in courts of law for assaulting their juniors sexually or otherwise. However, the cases of this nature concerning men are numerous, from simple operations managers or any other imaginable junior level managers, to the chief executives of international bodies and even presidents. Put in simple words, transformational leadership is the best type of leadership that women can use to lead organizations and various other institutions.

The implication to the Future of Female Leaders

It is a fact that the societies are getting more and more liberalized. It is clear from what is happening now, that the even such societies that still deny women power will be liberated from the male chauvinism and that everyone will be judged on the basis of merit and content other than on gender. It is also evident that transformational leadership is gaining popularity amongst various societies in the world.

Many organization, both commercial and not for profit organization are also embracing the principles of transformational leadership as the best way to reach out for everyone in the organization and gear them towards achieving goals and objectives of the organization (Hofstede 2005, p. 46). The future is clearly coming out as a time men will not have the immunity they have had as they will have to prove their potential before everyone and face the risk of being eliminated from leadership position if he fails to.

It is a fact that the future is beckoning a new hope to the society. It is a fact that women stand a better chance being regarded as transformational leaders as opposed to men. As such, they are more likely to replace men as the future leaders of the world both in the corporate world and in the political forums. Unless men change in many of the areas of weaknesses noted above, they should brace themselves to take over the role that was previously for women when it comes to leadership.

Conclusion

Transformation leadership is one of the types of leaderships that have come out strongly as very appropriate in the current democratic world. It is evident that many societies are accepting the fact that women can also be leaders. This trend is common in various societies across the world.

Given this factor, and the fact that women are getting as good educational background as men, it is clear that men must be ready for the challenge that would be posed by women as formidable force in the leadership positions. Transformational leadership is the vehicle through which women would use in ensuring that they get to the leadership positions.

List of References

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Avolio, B & Yammarino, F 2008, Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, United Kingdom.

Banutu-Gomez, M 2004, “Great leaders teach exemplary followership and serve as servant leaders”, Journal of American Academy of Business, Vol. 4, no. 1, pp 143-151.

Bardes, M, Mayer, D & Piccolo, R 2008, “Do servant-leaders help satisfy follower needs? An organizational justice perspective”, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 17, no. 2, pp 180-197.

Bass, B 1985, Leadership and performance beyond expectations, Free Press, New York.

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Garner, H & Laskin, E 2000, “Leading minds an anatomy of leadership”, Business Book Review, Vol.13, no. 1, pp 1-7.

Hannay, M 2009, “The cross-cultural leader: The application of servant leadership theory in the international context”, Journal of International Business & Cultural Studies, Vol. 1, no. 3, pp 1-12.

Hofstede, G 2005, Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values, Sage, London.

Spears, L 2009, “Servant leadership cultivate 10 characteristics”, Leadership Excellence, Vol. 20, no. 22, pp 24-31.

Spears, L 1998, The power of servant leadership, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco.

Volckmann, R 2009, “Leadership coaching tip: Responsibility, accountability and leadership”, Integral Leadership Review, Vol. 9, no. 5, pp 1-3.

Wren, J 1995, Leaders Companion Insights on Leadership, The Free Press, New York.

Yukl, G 1989, Managerial leadership: A review of theory and research, Journal of Management, Vol. 15, no. 2, pp 251-289.

Yukongdi, V 2010, “A study of Thai employees’ preferred leadership style”, Asia Pacific Business Review, Vol. 16, no. 1, pp 161-181.

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