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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).



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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

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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

Dr. Elijah Clark
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Dr. Elijah Clark (June 11, 2023). Transformational Leadership: An Ideal Solution? [Web log post]. Retrieved from
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