Transformational leadership is a process that modifies and renovates people (Northouse loc. 3450, 2016) It’s a trans-historical leadership that transcends time and place. It accomplishes the goals while also transforming individuals, raising their standards, values, and ethics.
Transformational Leadership was first coined in 1973 and emerged as a new way to manage businesses in the United States. Before it, leaders (CEO’s, bosses, etc.) would manage their followers (employees, etc) with the punishment and reward method also known as transactional leadership. Transformational leadership can also be described as charismatic and visionary leadership (Northouse loc. 3459-3478, 2016). The Leadership Continuum and Factors cited in Northouse describe the Transformational leader as individualized in their consideration when giving corrections as opposed to a one-size-fits-all method used in transactional leadership that does not nurture individual needs (Northouse loc. 3536, 2016).
An example of this form of transactional leadership used heavily is in highschools where students are judged on their overall intelligence with fill-in questions. It does not take much to realize that each individual is unique. From thumbprints to their patterns of thinking and reckoning. Schools should not be divided by age as humans mature at different rates. Our schools have to be more transformational than transactional if we want to nurture individual strengths and bring up tomorrow’s leaders at their fullest potential. The chart continues to point out that the transformational leader is inspirational in their motivation and intellectually stimulating.
When I think of the school example I just gave I have to state that the schools prepare the students in a transactional way because most of us will get transactional careers. Where I live, in the Silicon Valley most of the employees at Apple or Microsoft have a constant 9 to 5, five day a week job that involves sitting a desk and doing the same mundane work every day to receive the paycheck that takes care of them and their families. I don’t want to see myself in that situation for the rest of my life, even if the pay is big. This is because happiness is more valuable than money, and money does not always buy happiness. I would rather be in a start-up that is making just enough to get by and be part of something big than to just play it safe.
It does not take much to find a transformational leader or to become one. Ames and Flynn (2007) found in a study that all it takes to reach that sweet spot of productivity is a moderate level of assertiveness. Too much assertiveness and we become socially insufferable and not enough and we become instrumentally impotent. It’s vital that not just schools but the world moves towards a more transformational leadership model, especially in the wake of the current political climate.
I hope that Trump can learn from Franklin Roosevelt, who was considered a transformational leader who humanized the American Industrial system–probably why he was elected four times and served a total of 12 years, making America a superpower.
Ames, D.R., Flynn, F.J. (2007). What Breaks a Leader: The curvilinear relation between assertiveness and leadership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 92(2), 307-324.
Northouse, Peter G.. 2016. Leadership: Theory and Practice (Kindle Locations). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.