Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership

There are three main approaches the study of leadership: theory of personality traits, behavioral approach and situational approach. Since 1920, the followers of the theory of personal qualities were trying to find out what characteristics of a person to provide leadership. Developing this idea, researchers believed that if these “special” qualities were to be identified, people could learn to “educate” a leader. The theory is based on the features of the German psychologist late XIX – early XX century and focuses on the innate qualities of leadership. In the framework of the features, the concept of transformational and charismatic leadership has been developed (Storey, 2004).

Transformational leadership is the process of achieving significant changes in attitudes and representations of members of the organization and the formation of the commitment of significant changes in the goals and strategies of the organization (Anagnoste et. al., 2010). Transformational leadership involves the provision of leader influence on subordinates, but the effect of this influence is the empowerment of subordinates, who are also leaders in the transformation of the organization. With charismatic leadership, the focus is on individual leaders.

On contrary, charismatic leadership is built on energy, charm, his ability to inspire, lead. Although most researchers agree that charisma is a special gift and one can’t learn, there are some aspects of charismatic leadership, which everyone can apply in practice (Anagnoste et. al., 2010).

These aspects of charismatic leadership are use of personal power, loyalty to the common cause, a clear vision of the future, the ability to take risks, and act effectively in situations of uncertainty. The leader, according to this theory, can only be a person who possesses a certain set of personality traits or a set of certain psychological traits. Various authors have attempted to provide these essential leader traits or characteristics. In American social psychology, these sets of traits were recorded with particular care, since they had become the basis for constructing systems tests for the selection of persons – potential leaders. But very quickly it became clear that the task of compiling a list of such features was impossible. Unsuccessful attempts to identify universal personality traits led scientists in the early 1950’s to look at the issue of leadership from the other side.

Today the researchers are interested in behaviors of leaders in the organization from the following perspectives: what roles leaders play and how to manage and interact with people (Anagnoste et. al., 2010). The behavioral approach is aimed at analysis of leadership in the context of realizable leader behavior and the allocation of the universal behavior by granting it a success. Proponents of the behavioral approach suggest that leadership can be taught. Representatives of the behavioral approach to the study of leadership believed that a leader is a person who has the correct form of behavior. In this approach, numerous studies have been performed leadership styles and developed their classification. Best known classification of leadership styles is of K. Levin. Levin describes three main styles of leadership: autocratic, democratic and liberal leadership styles. Meanwhile, R. Likert classifies leaders as either people-oriented or task-oriented.

Nevertheless, empirical studies indicate that there is no unique relation between the characteristics of leadership style and its effectiveness (Storey, 2004). Thus, the supporters of the situational approach believe that leadership is the product of a particular situation. The main idea of this approach is that an effective leader can assess the situation and adapt to its behavior. Trait theory in this conceptual scheme is not completely discarded, but argues that leadership is mostly a product of the situation. In different situations, there is always an individual in any group of people who possesses a unique quality that nobody else has. Thus, because of this quality and a situation such individuals become leaders in their community.

Based on that, the idea of unique qualities has been abandoned. Instead there was accepted an idea that these leaders do not actually have a unique characteristic. The reason they become leaders is that in such extreme situations they are the only ones who can quickly take appropriate actions.

After that, there were four new theories of leadership: Fiedler’s contingency model of leadership, the approach of Mitchell and House’s “path – goal” theory, situational leadership model of Hersey and Blanchard’s model, and the normative decision-making model of Vroom Yetton (Avolio, 2002).

Common to all these theories is the recognition that leadership can not be understood in isolation from the characteristics of the group and situation. Thus, the current leadership appears as a complex multidimensional phenomenon determined by several factors. Independently of this debate about innate and acquired leadership qualities are the compensatory theory of leadership, owe their origin psychodynamic paradigm. The general idea of these theories is that leadership is seen as a behavior, neutralizing or offsetting some of the painful experiences and intrapersonal conflicts. For example, among the motivations of leadership called the desire for power, which compensates for feelings of inferiority [A. Adler], the desire to control the situation, offsetting anxiety associated with a frustrated need for security [K. Horney] (Avolio, 2002).

All of the above theories of leadership consider leadership as an internal phenomenon, associated with the characteristics of the leader – whether innate or acquired. In addition to these endogenous theories, there are other concepts that – let’s call them, respectively, exogenous theories – in which leadership is viewed solely as a result of the influence of external, social (rather than personal) factors (Middlehurst, 2008).

One of them is the theory of leadership as a function of the group. The founder of this theory J. Homans believed that every social group – a group of slaves in need of leaders and leadership he defines as a person that best reflects the group values that can satisfy the needs and expectations of the group (Middlehurst, 2008).

The next step in the understanding of leadership is the theory of situational leadership. The founder of this theory R. Stogdill believed that a person becomes a leader not because of their special characteristics and needs of the group, but because of the situation (Middlehurst, 2008). Experimentally he found that one and the same person in the same group becomes the leader in one situation and not become another. Some authors try to combine the external factors (environmental factors, the factor of the situation, etc. ), creating a combined theory of leadership. For example, according to F. Fiedler, there are three main variables that are present in group processes and influence the effectiveness of the leader and the group as a whole: the nature of the relationship between leader and group members, the degree of structuring of the problem, the positional power leader, is determined by its power.

Both exogenous and endogenous theories failed to fully explain the nature of leadership. Therefore, many researchers are trying to create an integrative approach to leadership, which will bring together all the factors that initiate and sustain the process of leadership in the group. For instance, an American sociologist and psychologist Douglas McGregor created the theory of interrelated factors, which identified four major factors: characteristics of the individual leader, attitudes, needs, interests, personality characteristics of slaves, especially the organization, structure, nature solves its objectives, political, economic, social environment (Middlehurst, 2008).

In recent years, there were not only new theories in the study of leadership, but also there has been a change in the principle of consideration of leadership: a transition from group to dyadic understanding of leadership and from transactional to transformational. This convergence of approaches you can see in the leadership studies: ideology is not important now but ideas.

The problems of leadership at the moment are quite sharp, and therefore is very important study of the phenomenon of leadership. Let us turn to the analysis of the concepts of manager’s personality, which establishes the presence of a variety of approaches to develop a theoretical model of personality development and effective management of the head. At present, there are different approaches to the study of personality leader [manager].

Manager’s approach is based on the following ideas. Leader must have special personal qualities that ensure the success of management (Eader, 2008). Also can be defined a list of these properties for a specific post. Typical evaluation system managers, based on this approach, contain sets of professionally significant qualities. The structure of the personal qualities of a manager is divided in four substructures: management ability, political qualities, professional qualities, organizational quality. This approach has its limitations. Representations of the manager’s personality as a set of qualities associated with the success of activities through the weights did not contribute to the analysis of its dynamic characteristics. The possibility of personal development only state, and assumed that it occurs as a mere change in the individual qualities of isolated properties. Abstractness of understanding of the managerial competencies of their discrepancy with those or other managerial situations, subjective selection and understanding of significant professional quality, lack of distinguishing common trait of the specific inherent in the head as a person, too, were a definite drawback.

Competitive approach presupposes that the leaders of the special, personal properties or a certain level of development of the common properties that distinguish them from other people. Search these personal characteristics by comparing a group of leaders and people who do not belong to this category of successful and unsuccessful leaders of the various job levels. In analyzing the structure of personality traits manager evaluation are, first and foremost, the special properties of the individual and their substructures, since they are essential to carry out management activities. The special structure includes those qualities that distinguish effective from ineffective leader. Interpretation of the differences found may be associated with significant difficulties: the causes of differences can be as a special selection, and the personality of neoplasms arising from the peculiarities of the system or the environment, occupational strain. Therefore, instead of professional qualities, researchers can identify particular criteria for selecting leaders or conditions of their formation (Eader, 2008).

The partial approach is formed by the practice of psychologists and suggests ways of correcting the personal orientation in the environment. Formation of manager’s personality indirectly associated with working off some operations and included in management activities, from psycho-correction system of relationships. Special attention is given to the development of thinking and the creation of algorithms for solving management problems (Eader, 2008).

Engineering-psychological approach considers the head as the decision maker (Eader, 2008). This approach limited the study of psychological processes of the head of information and its individual characteristics, manifested in management.

Reflexive-value approach examines personality of the head through the formation of his reflexive-value-management concepts (Eader, 2008). The ability to head the integration is manifested in the formation, reflection and self-correction of its own management concept which consists of a series of overlapping conceptual models of activity. Its elements are: strategic plans, economic performance, problems encountered in implementing the targets, the causes of problems; management tools address the causes, functional units that implement these tools, information on the state of activity.

In the socio-psychological approach, developed and empirically proven different models of personality manager industrial organization, studied the effect of manager’s personality on the effectiveness of management, organizational capacity and focus of leadership, forecasting professional development, management and interaction effects of social and perceptual processes in government; role conflict and socio-psychological orientation (Eader, 2008).

Situation-integrated approach considers the dynamics of personality development manager in different management situations and life events (Eader, 2008). To study the mechanisms of personality development manager highlighted the complex (evaluation activities throughout the volume of its functions) and local (bound for a function) prediction and expressive evaluation.


Anagnoste, S., Agoston, S., & Puia, R. (2010). Transformational leadership as a tool of knowledge dynamics. Proceedings of the European Conference on Intellectual Capital, pp. 54-58. Retrieved from EBSCO Database.

Eader, R., Cilliers, F., Deventer, V. (2008, June). Leadership styles and associated personality traits: Support for the conceptualization of transactional and transformational leadership. South African Journal of Psychology, 38(2), pp. 253 – 267. Retrieved from EBSCO Database.

Middlehurst, R. (2008, October). Not enough science or not enough learning? Exploring the gaps between leadership theory and practice. Higher Education Quarterly, 62(4), pp. 322 – 339. Retrieved from EBSCO Database.

Storey, J. (2004). Leadership in Organizations. London: Routledge. Retrieved from Questia Database.

Avolio, B.J., & Bass, B.M. (2002). Developing Potential Across a Full Range of Leadership: Cases on Transactional and Transformational Leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.