Transformational and transactional leadership, identified in the 1970s, characterize two of the most prominent types of leadership seen in modern groups and organizations. Understanding the roles that transformational and transactional leadership play in groups and organizations is vital for all those interested in the sociology of social interaction. This article explores the sociology of transformational and transactional leadership in four parts: an overview of the basic principles of transformational and transactional leadership; a review of the main theories of group and organizational leadership; a description of tools for measuring the effectiveness of transformational and transactional leaders; and a discussion of the effects that different leadership styles have on groups and organizations.
Keywords Followers; Formal Leadership; Group; Informal Leadership; Leadership; Laissez-Faire Leadership; Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire; Organization; Society; Sociology; Transactional Leadership; Transformational Leadership
Social Interaction in Groups
Leadership refers to the process by which one individual works to influence other group members to work toward the achievement of group goals (Greenberg & Baron, 1997). Sociologists study leadership in small group settings, formal organizations, and social movements. Small group leadership is called "micro leadership." Leadership of large formal organizations is called "macro leadership." Leadership of social movements is called "meta leadership" (Bass, 1999). Social interaction in groups and organizations is affected by the type and character of leadership found in the group or organization. Leaders in organizations and groups may or may not be officially chosen or appointed. Leadership in groups and organizations may be formal or informal. Formal leadership refers to the leadership role that comes from holding a ranked position in management. Informal leadership, also called non-sanctioned leadership, refers to the ability to influence that exists outside of the formal organizational structure (Hearda-Rapp, 1998).
Sociologists classify different types of leadership. Each different type of leadership affects groups and organizations in different ways. This article discusses transformational and transactional leadership. These two types of leadership, identified in the 1970s, characterize two of the most prominent types of leadership seen in modern groups and organizations. Understanding the role that transformational and transactional leadership play in groups and organizations is vital for all those interested in the sociology of social interaction. This article explores the sociology of transformational and transactional leadership in four parts:
(1) An overview of the basic principles of transformational and transactional leadership;
(2) A review of the main theories of group and organizational leadership;
(3) A description of tools for measuring transformational and transactional leaders; and
(4) A discussion of the effects that different leadership styles have on groups and organizations.
The Basic Principles of Transformational
The current predominant theory of leadership classifies leaders into two categories: transformational and transactional leaders. Bernard Bass, in 1985, developed the transformational/transactional model of leadership. Bass based his model on the work of James McGregor Burns who originated the concepts of transactional and transforming leadership in the 1970s. Burns argued that every leadership process can be classified as either transactional or transforming leadership. Bass's model includes two predominant modes of leadership, transactional and transformational leadership, along with a third less common mode of leadership called laissez-faire leadership. In Bass's model, transactional leadership refers to a leadership style in which the leader exchanges rewards for subordinate effort. Transformational leadership refers to a leadership style in which the leader encourages his or her subordinates to achieve higher and higher levels of performance for the sake of the organization. Laissez-faire leadership refers to a type of non-leadership in which leaders make no efforts to meet subordinate needs and do not react to and may withdraw from subordinate deviance.
Transactional leadership is considered a traditional approach to leadership studies, while transformational leadership is considered a new leadership approach. In Bass's transformational/transactional model of leadership, transactional leaders use the following techniques for achieving their goals: contingent reward, active management by expectation, and passive management by exception. Contingent reward refers to leader-follower relationships in which rewards and punishments are tied to performance. Active management by expectation refers to scenarios in which leaders observe, correct, and punish any deviance in subordinate behavior. Passive management, by exception, refers to leaders who wait for, but do not seek out, subordinate deviance.
Transactional leaders refer to leaders who motivate their followers in the direction of the stated goals by clarifying work role and task requirements. Transactional leadership is a common management style that involves a chain of command and defined structure in which subordinates relinquish authority to their supervisors. In transactional leadership systems, subordinates are expected to do what their supervisor tells them to do. People are motivated by reward and punishment, such as increased pay or termination.
Transformational leaders exhibit established behaviors, including embracing a large-scale vision of the organization, exerting great effort in the achievement of goals, and performing beyond specified expectations. Transformational leadership qualities are considered to be learned and developed behaviors. In Bass's transformational/transactional model of leadership, transformational leaders use the following techniques for achieving their goals: attributed charisma, idealized influence, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Attributed charisma refers to a leader's self-confidence and assertiveness in inspiring trust and respect in their subordinates. Idealized influence refers to a respected leader's effort to promote his beliefs and influence subordinates. Inspiration refers to a leader's effort to convey belief in and high expectations of subordinates. Intellectual stimulation refers to a leader's effort to encourage creative and proactive problem-solving approaches. Individualized consideration refers to a leader's efforts to promote interpersonal connection with each individual subordinate (Doherty, 1997).
Transformational leaders refer to leaders who look beyond their own interests to act for the good of the organization. Transformational leaders tend to share similar traits, characteristics, and behaviors. For example, transformational leaders exhibit vision, staff development, supportive leadership, empowerment, innovative thinking, and charisma. Transformational leaders give their followers a cogent and inspiring vision of the future, treat them as individuals and encourage their development, give them encouragement and recognition, promote trust and cooperation among them, help them develop novel approaches to old problems, and instill in them pride and respect for one another and for their work. Research shows that followers of transformational leaders tend to be more productive and satisfied workers than followers of transactional leaders (Carless, 2000).
Theories of Group
Interest in group and organizational leadership began as a result of twentieth-century society's concern for social relations, motivation, and employee productivity. Sociologists began to study human social interaction and relations to explain motivation. The field of organizational behavior, an interdisciplinary field including sociology, psychology, and business management, sought to understand how leaders motivate their followers. The study of group and organizational leadership has changed significantly over the last century. In the 1930s, trait theories of leadership predominated; in the 1950s, behavior theories of leadership were predominant. In the 1970s, situational or contingency theories of leadership were popular. And, in the late 1970s, the "new leadership" perspective emerged. The new leadership perspective, characterized by transformational and transactional leadership, is concerned with...
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