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Researchers and business administrators have long tried to develop the most efficient model of leadership. At this point, this question has not been fully addressed, but there are certain approaches that enjoy popularity among scholars and professionals; transformational leadership is one of them. This paper will examine the distinctive features of transformational leadership and its outcomes especially for the followers.
This review will identify the benefits of transformational leadership and show how positive outcomes for employees can be achieved. Overall, this model can bring significant improvement as increased job satisfaction, creativity, and better performance, but this approach can be successful only leaders possess a variety of skills. Moreover, transformation leadership can be effective only if the organization values openness and egalitarian relations between managers and employees.
The main aspects of transformational leadership
Researchers identify several important elements for transformational leadership. First of all one can speak about intellectual stimulation or the ability to challenge the assumptions of employees and encourage their creativity (Avolio, Waldman & Yammarino 1991, p. 14). Such a leader is also able to encourage life-long learning of his or her followers. Therefore, it is possible to assume that such a person must open to new ideas and viewpoints; otherwise he or she will not offer any intellectual challenges to the employees.
The second aspect of this approach is idealized influence or the ability to act as a role model for other people (Avolio, Waldman & Yammarino 1991, p. 15). The followers should see that their leader as example of competence; furthermore, this person must make them proud of their work. Thus, one can argue that this individual must reach the highest ethical and professional standards in order to succeed.
Other important components are individual consideration and inspirational motivation. This means that a transformational leader is willing and able to take into account the needs of their followers and their individual concerns (Humphreys & Einstein, 2003, p. 86). So, those people, who intend to play the role of leaders should have well-developed communication skills; otherwise they will fail to consider the needs of their followers and their values.
They should be very attentive and avoid generalizations when judging employees. More importantly, this person is able to articulate a vision in the way that would be appealing to the followers. These people should share the beliefs and values of their leader. More importantly, they must take pride in their work because in this way they increase their performance.
Such authors as John Humphreys and Walter Einstein single out another component of transformational leadership. They argue that transformational leaders should accept their dependence on followers (Humphreys & Einstein, 2003, p. 86). They should be able to share their power with other people.
Moreover, these scholars point out that despite the flexibility of transformational leadership, it should always be based on such values as integrity and justice (Humphreys & Einstein, 2003, p. 86). They cannot be compromised under any circumstances. Thus, such an individual must be able to find an ethical justification for various actions and decisions.
Thus, this review suggests that transformational approach sets very high performance standards for people who are called leaders. These people have to make sure that their followers take pride in them and this goal is very difficult to achieve especially if a person has only begun to work with the followers.
Transformational model and other approaches to leadership
Overall, transformational approach helps to identify the main objectives that a leader is supposed to achieve. However, it does not provide step-by-step instructions for achieving these goals. To some degree, this approach can be compared to situational leadership that relies on contingency theory.
The advocates of this theory argue that there is no optimal style of leadership, because a leader should always adapt to a particular situation (Williams, 2011, p. 407). Transformational approach to leadership does not reject this premise; the thing is that even a transformation leader can change his or her communication style and motivation strategies (Bono & Judge, 2004, p. 901). This leader can behave in different ways depending on the type of problem that should be resolved.
Furthermore, in both cases, more emphasis is placed on the delegation of authority to employees. These people must have a certain degree of autonomy; otherwise organizations will hardly achieve any of their goals because the leaders will have to monitor every task that employees work on. The main distinction of transformational leadership is that it emphasizes the role of ethical principles like integrity.
They should always be followed irrespective of the situation. This is probably the main distinction of this model. Even though it relies on other leadership theories, it has its distinguishing features, especially the emphasis on the professional and ethic standards that a leader is supposed to reach.
Transformational leadership and its outcomes for the followers
By looking at the elements of transformational leadership one can see that this approach can have profound implications for the followers. First of all, the person, who works under the guidance of such a leader, is more likely to achieve professional growth, because he or she can acquire new knowledge and skills (Edwards, 2008, p. 4).
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Moreover, such an employee will try to work more creatively and this is also a part of professional growth. The thing is that this worker will want to resemble the leader and one of the ways to do is to raise one’s professional level. It is quite probable that this person will become the advocate of life-long learning.
In other words, this individual can accept the limitations of one’s knowledge and try to fill this gap. Yet, such a result is possible only if a leader can act as a role model and show a person should strive for continuous growth. Hence, this person should develop one’s professional skills and evaluate the ethical aspects that he or she takes in order to be a role model.
Secondly, employees can assume a different attitude to work. These workers may be motivated not only by financial compensation or the fear of punishment; more likely this person will try to gain the recognition of the leader since this recognition of their achievement will also be a form of reward. Overall, such researchers as Shung Shin and Jing Zhou believe that transformational leadership increases the intrinsic value of job (2003, p. 704).
Certainly, they will need financial compensation for their work, but the opportunity to work with a transformational leader will be a reward, in itself. Thus, they will be less willing to leave a company. In the long term, transformational leadership can reduce turnover in organizations and it is a significant problem that still needs to be addressed by many profit and not-for-profit organizations.
Thus, one can say that transformational leadership can make the experiences of employees more fulfilling and help companies that try to hire and retain skillful workforce. This is probably the main benefit this approach can bring private companies, public organizations, and governmental agencies that struggle to recruit and retain the best applicants.
Additionally, the followers of transformational leaders will feel comfortable enough to take initiatives and work creatively. For instance, they will not shy away from making recommendations at the time, when the leader will have to take important decisions (Bass & Riggio, 2006, p. 29).
As it has been said before, transformational approach implies that a good leader must be able share power with the followers. Apart from that, this person should be able to accept critique and acknowledge one’s mistakes. Unfortunately not every one can do it; many people believe that criticism is always aimed at debunking their authority. A transformational leader should reject this belief because it is usually irrational. As a rule, it only makes managers and frontline personnel hostile to one another.
Besides, transformational leadership is possible mostly in those companies that are open to innovations and try to be sensitive to environmental changes. These organizations promote employees’ creativity and their independent decision-making (Daliva, Epstein & Shelton, 2007, p. 23).
Yet, in many cases, the organizations can become too bureaucratic and risk-averse. As a result, they do not encourage their employees to be take part in decision-making or offer any solutions without the permission of the top management. In such an environment, transformational leadership is hardly possible because it can be criticized by top executives.
This is the main barrier that can prevent companies from adopting this approach. Thus, those people, who think that transformational model is the best approach to leadership, should know that their success will strongly depend on the culture of the organization. In some cases, they will have to change it in order to achieve success.
Moreover, the researches also refer to increased productivity when they speak about the benefits of transformational leadership (Avolio, Waldman & Yammarino 1991, p. 11). As it has been said before, such people can share the values and goals of their leaders. Thus, they may put much more effort in order to achieve the objectives that the organization sets. Nevertheless, this outcome is possible only if employees take pride in the work and believe that it has an intrinsic value.
These examples should that transformational leadership can produce the following results: 1) increased satisfaction with the job; 2) willingness to achieve professional growth; 3) increased performance; 4) creativity and independent decision-making. Thus, the effects of transformational leadership on employees are beneficial but they are possible only in certain circumstances.
This discussion shows that transformational leadership can produce good results and help employees fulfill their talents. However, there are specific issues that one should take into account. First of all this strategy requires considerable amount of effort from leaders who have to depart from traditional routine and find ways of challenging and motivating employees. Secondly, the outcome will greatly depend on the culture of the organization. These are the issues that business administrators should take into account.
Avolio, B., Waldman, D. & Yammarino, F. (1991). Leading in the 1990s: The Four I’s of Transformational Leadership. Journal of European Industrial Training, 15 (4), 9-16.
Bass, B. & Riggio R. (2006). Transformational Leadership. London: Routledge.
Bono, J. & Judge, T. (2004). Personality and Transformational and Transactional Leadership: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89 (5), 901-910.
Daliva, T., Epstein, M. & Shelton, R. (2007). The Creative Enterprise: Culture. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Edwards, J. (2008). Development of the Survey of Transformational Leadership for Application to the Substance Abuse Treatment Field. New York: ProQuest.
Humphreys, J. & Einstein, W. (2003). Nothing new under the sun: Transformational leadership from a historical perspective. Journal of Management History, 41 (1), 85-95.
Shin, S. & Zhou J. (2003). Transformational leadership, conservation, and creativity: evidence from Korea: Academy of Management Journal, 46(6), 703-714.
Williams, C. (2011). Effective Management: A Multimedia Approach. New York: Cengage Learning.