Many organizations require from leaders the ability to set and communicate goals, motivate, inspire initiative and empower the followers and facilitate change. Such style of leadership is known as transformational. On the other hand they may require effectively coordinating the subordinates in accordance with procedures and standards; this type of leadership is typically referred as transactional.
The attributes of transformational and transactional styles are further explained below. There is a link between an individual’s personality and the leadership style individuals are most comfortable with and more likely to use. The connection between personality and leadership style was noted by several researchers and leadership specialists (e.g. Bass, 2000, 2008; Pillai, Schriesheim, & Williams, 1999; de Charon, 2003).
It is important to understand your natural leadership style so you can capitalize on your natural leadership strengths (or be aware of and address your natural weaknesses) for your career development, self-fulfillment and success at the workplace.
Jung Typology Profiler for Workplace™ determines the most likely natural leadership style of an individual based on personality type and the expressiveness of various behavioral qualities such as vision, power, resourcefulness, empathy and other behavioral qualities. Based on your personality assessment, the JTPW Career Development Profile provides practical tips for becoming a more effective leader (or a more content worker if leadership is not your strength) and indicates possible pitfalls.
Transactional leaders achieve set goals by acting within established procedures and standards. This leader assigns specific, well-defined tasks to subordinates and requires that they fulfill their responsibilities and meet standards precisely as prescribed or agreed upon.
Transactional leadership emphasizes the exchange that occurs between the leader and the follower. This involves directives from the leader (or a mutual discussion between the leader and the subordinate) regarding the requirements and objectives (Bass, 2008).
As far as reward and correction methods are concerned, think of the “carrot and stick” approach. Rewards are contingent on successful completion of the “transaction”. Meeting the objectives typically leads to rewards and reinforcement of the successful performance. The transactional rewards are material (e.g. raise, award or “job security”). However, psychological rewards are also present in transactional leadership (explicit positive feedback, praise).
Corrective actions are typically more reactive than proactive - the leader monitors the deviations, mistakes and errors in the performance of the subordinates. Failure to reach the objectives will bring disappointment, dissatisfaction, and a psychological (e.g. negative feedback, disapproval, disciplinary actions) or material punishment (Bass, 2008).
When might such leadership be useful? The transactional leadership style may, for example, be useful in crisis management or in emergency response, and in situations when activities must be carried out efficiently and exactly as planned.
Transformational leadership generally aims at higher goals than transactional does. Transformational leaders achieve the goals by inspiring and motivating followers and encouraging their initiative. Transformational leaders are able to create vision. They are able to establish a shared vision and sense of purpose among team members.
Transformational leaders motivate their followers by raising their concerns from basic needs (e.g. security) to achievement and self-fulfillment; by moving them beyond self-interest to concerns of the group, project or organization (Bass, 2008, Burns, 1978). They bring charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualized considerations (Bass, 2008). They address an individual’s self-worth and capitalize on an individual’s unique capabilities.
Like with transactional leadership, contingent rewards are present with transformational leadership and include both psychological and material ones (Bass, 2008). Transformational leadership however, puts a great emphasis on the psychological rewards. The follower’s self-actualization, rising above basic needs, positive feedback and praise from the leader are example of a psychological reward that transformational leadership brings.
Transformational leadership goes beyond just monitoring the performance of the followers and being reactive (providing negative feedback and corrective action when noticing an issue). It also puts a great emphasis on being proactive, establishing long term goals, facilitating change, seeking continuous improvement, and giving the followers an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Books and Articles
- The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications.
- Charon, L. d. (2003). A transformational leadership development program: Jungian psychological types in dynamic flux. Organization Development Journal, 21(3), 9.