Transformational Leadership - More of a Partner Approach

If transactional leadership involves the use of leadership power over rewards and punishments to "lead", transformational leadership can be characterized as a process where leader and followers work together, in a way that changes, or transforms the organization, the employees/followers and the leader.

It recognizes that real leadership involves transformation and learning on the part of follow AND leader. As such it is more of a partnership, even though there are power imbalances involved.

While transactional leadership involves telling, commanding, or ordering (and using contingent rewards) transformational leadership is based on inspiring, getting followers to buy-in voluntarily, creating common vision.

Transformational leadership is what most of us refer to when we talk about great leaders in our lives and in society.

The term itself is associated with James McGregor Burns, who made the distinctions between transformational and transactional leadership. Not a household name, but certainly a pioneer, you can find more about J.M Burns leadership work by clicking here.

Bernard Bass was a disciple of J. M. Burns and has extended the original works and distinctions between transformational and transactional leadership. For a bit more on Bass, and others working in this area click here.

Transformational Leadership Explained