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Defining a Transaction & Transformational Leader

Transformational and transactional leadership styles are models used by organizations to asses leadership styles. Transformational leadership style is based on social exchange and transactional style is based on economic exchange (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010). The style approach is an understanding of how leaders approach and manage their employees and subordinates. Assessing the style will help determine the leaders style of management (Northouse, 2013). The style approach is used as a method to determine how leaders combine the behaviors of task and relationship. Task behavior leaders use goals as a method of motivating group members. Relationship leaders use comfort as a tool to motivate (Northouse, 2013).

In building leadership trust, both transactional and transformational styles are important predictors (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010). Studies of leadership assessments have shown that using these leadership styles does have an impact on the leaders as well as the followers or employees. Leadership styles have been proven to be linked to employee performance, behavior, mood, attitude, and organization commitment. (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010; Strang, Kuhnert, 2009). If leaders have an understanding of the type of style they are, they will be mindful of their actions and behavior toward others. Assessments can be helpful for leaders to assess their actions and make improvements within their leadership style (Northouse, 2013). Knowing a leaders style can be useful for gaining insight into the challenges and complexities of leadership. Considering the results of the style assessment have been inconclusive across many different studies, the style approach has not produced a solid plan of action that can be used by leaders to produce a positive and thriving workforce (Northouse, 2013).

Both transactional and transformational leadership styles may lead employees to better trust their leaders. In a studied organization, Implementing assessments of leadership styles have been proven to be effective at increasing individual outcomes and trust in leadership. Leaders, trainers, and managers can use the style approach assessment as a way to instruct leaders and managers on how to be effective in the work area (Northouse, 2013). Leaders can use the assessment to create customized plans and development programs. Through the help of the style assessment, leaders can implement ways in which the employees can transfer over what they have learned into the workplace. If done properly, these techniques should foster positive growth within the organization by creating a quality bond between leaders and followers (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010)

I believe that the assessment can be just as helpful as a quarterly or weekly meeting with team members. In this sense, I don’t see this assessment any different than a normal question and answer meeting amongst team members and managers. If this assessment inspires and promotes conversation, then it can be deemed a good tool for building relationships within the workforce. However, I don’t believe the assessment is the key to building success of the leaders and followers. The successful relationship is likely due to the conversation, open communication, and self-awareness. If the leaders and followers do not have solid communication skills, then the assessment would not be effective. If they do have a relationship with good communication, then the assessment can produce positive results.



Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Ismail, A., Mohamad, M.H., Mohamed, H.A., Rafiuddin, N.M., & Zhen, K.W.P. (2010). Transformational and transactional leadership styles as a predictor of individual outcomes, Theoretical and Applied Economics, 17(6), 89-104. Retrieved from

Strang, S. E., & Kuhnert, K. W. (2009). Personality and leadership developmental levels as predictors of leader performance. Leadership Quarterly, 20(3), 421–433. Retrieved from

Transformational Leadership: An Ideal Solution?

Transformational leaders seek to work with the members in order to create a positive future that focuses on the status quo (Hallinger, 2003). Proper leadership is a key factor in organizational success. Transformational leaders focus on the higher needs of the company and desire to use the full potential of the follower by going beyond the social exchange. A transformational leader can have a great impact on a follower’s self-concept. This is done by encouragement and intellectual stimulation (Kovjanic, Schuh, Jonas, Quaquebeke, & Dick, 2012). Transformational leaders encourage their followers to question assumptions by promoting unique thinking (Whittington, Coker, Goodwin, Ickes & Murray, 2009). These types of leaders believe in building follower’s capabilities and striving to enhance those followers’ knowledge and skills through regular feedback and building trust and respect (Kovjanic, Schuh, Jonas, Quaquebeke, & Dick, 2012).

An example of a transformational leader would be a principal at an educational facility. A principal has the task of overseeing the school’s operation and making sure that the students are affected by his leadership decisions. In order to do this successfully, the principal must build the organization so that the teachers support the development and direction (Hallinger, 2003). This would require the principal to not focus directly on controlling or supervising curriculum, but to share the leadership role with those that have a direct impact on the students. This method is called controlling from above, and it stimulates change from the bottom-up (Hallinger, 2003). Leadership is about more than the leaders, it is also about the followers, work environment, and culture (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009).

Transactional leadership is when a leader exchanges something of value with a follower. This exchange is based on the follower being credited for positive performance. The goal of this type of leadership is for both the leader and follower to enter into a mutually beneficial exchange in pursuit of a higher purpose (Whittington, Coker, Goodwin, Ickes & Murray, 2009). Transformational leadership is centered on economic contract and not a relational contract (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010). Transactional leaders are more likely to focus on maintaining normal workflow of operations. These types of leaders will use disciplinary powers, awards, and an array of incentives to motivate employees to perform their best. These leaders are more concerned with satisfying quotas on a day-to-day basis (Northouse, 2013).

In an educational institution, an example of a transformational leader can be the instructors that teach and work directly with the students. In helping to develop the students for success into the next grade level or graduation, a teacher may find many ways to help a struggling student. Methods can include promising the student a higher grade if they work harder, or rewarding another student with a letter of recommendation in exchange for a stellar essay for tutoring a failing student.

Transformational leadership in an educational institution is an effective approach for a principal considering it seeks to create a climate in which teachers continually learn and then share that knowledge to others. This approach is believed to create organizational commitment, due to the teachers understanding the mission of the school. The principal in this sense is creating positive conditions for the teachers that will help them become self-motivated at improving the school. These positive effects from the principal to the teachers will create direct effects on the classroom. By giving teachers the responsibility of managing their own classroom, the principal will be less subject to burnout (Hallinger, 2003).

Through transformational leadership, school principals can focus more of their attention on moving the school forward. This benefit of being a transformational principal allows the teacher to help with creating success. This motivates teachers to do more than expected and have greater productivity. This allows the school to work together, versus having separate objectives (Balyer, 2012). Together, the institution can create a hierarchy of transformational leaders and transactional leaders. Research has determines that having both transformational leaders and transactional leaders working together can be most effective (Hallinger, 2003). An effective transformational principal will be a confident and successful role model to the transactional teachers (Kovjanic, Schuh, Jonas, Quaquebeke, & Dick, 2012).

A negative impact of a transformational leader can be determined by whether or not the leader is effective. An ineffective leader will create negative perceptions of the institutions conditions and lower their commitment (Hallinger, 2003). Furthermore, transformational leaders can oftentimes leave role expectations unclear, which result in improper direction, and loss of trust in the leadership (Whittington, Coker, Goodwin, Ickes & Murray, 2009).



Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: current theories , research, and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 421–449. doi:10.1177/0149206310393520

Hallinger, P. (2003). Leading Educational Change: Reflections On The Practice Of Instructional And Transformational Leadership. Cambridge Journal of Education, 33(3), 329-352. doi: 10.1080/0305764032000122005

Ismail, A., Mohamad, M.H., Mohamed, H.A., Rafiuddin, N.M., & Zhen, K.W.P. (2010). Transformational and transactional leadership styles as a predictor of individual outcomes, Theoretical and Applied Economics, 17(6), 89-104. Retrieved from

Kovjanic, S., Schuh, S., Jonas, K., Quaquebeke, N., & Dick, R. (2012). How do transformational leaders foster positive employee outcomes? A self-determination-based analysis of employees’ needs as mediating links. Journal of Organizational Behavior. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Balyer, A. (2012). Transformational leadership behaviors of school principals: A qualitative research based on teachers’ perceptions. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 4(3), 581-591. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Whittington, J. L., Coker, R. H., Goodwin, V. L., Ickes, W., & Murray, B. (2009). Transactional leadership revisited: Self-other agreement and its consequences. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(8), 1860–1886

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