The Transformational and charismatic leadership theory

In examining transformational leadership some outstanding examples can be found in both ancient and modern times as exemplified by phenomena. Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and even Adolf Hitler were outstandingly successful as transformational leaders (even if Hitler’s success was (mercifully) short lived). Hitler galvanized the German people by appealing to their national pride; Lincoln led his country in the face of devastating internal differences; Churchill rallied the nation in the face of impeding invasion and Gandhi moved his people to throw off the British yoke in the interests of national self-respect. In all of these cases, the situation presented national challenges to which in the opinion of the relevant leaders required national responses.

The resources that these leaders had at their disposal would scarcely have been enough to lead successfully in a transactional manner. The necessary resources came from the people themselves an example previously recorded in the Bible as the Parable of the five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 15:34). Therefore, one quality of a transformational leader is that followers not only follow, contribute effort but also even contribute material resources needed to get the job done.

Leadership requires followers or subordinates and a vision. This notion of leadership has existed for millennia and is recorded in both the Bible and (in China) the Tao Te Ching.(Blanchard & Carey cited in Hesselbein & Goldsmith, 2006). At the same time, new concepts of leadership stress that leaders will need to take into account the wants of the subordinates that now no longer focus primarily on money (Goldsmith, cited in Hesselbein & Goldsmith, 2006). If more money is no longer a prime incentive for followers then transactional leadership has become lost some of its influence and a leader needs to be more aware of emotional appeals.

Huang (2005) noted that scholars in characterizing leaders as transformational often filter out the structural components of action and portray a leader as a person of extraordinary qualities performing heroic and revolutionary actions. A transactional leader on the other hand strongly emhpasises contextual factors but neglect how a leader can create his or her own context. If no reconciliation is possible between the structural relations shaping of and being shaped by a leader then a leader’s contribution may be misleadingly attributed to a brilliant and catastrophic outcome.

The circumstances that may call for exceptional leadership are not always foreseeable although both Scharmer (2009) and Cashman (2008) indicate that leaders can and should be developed that can foresee the future enough to take strategic and preemptive ,measures. Such ability requires a leader posses a degree of flexibility (Doz & Kosonen, 2008; Navarro, 2006; O’Sullivan & Dooley, 2009). Given that circumstances will play an important part in determining how a leader performs, the leaders should be able to adjust his or her leadership style accordingly. Amernic, Craig, and Tourish, (2007) in describing Jack Welch noted the different ways in which Welch acted at different times.

Beddell, Hunter, Angie, & Vert,(2006) compared charismatic, ideological and pragmatic leaders. Beddell et al. noted that a charismatic leader will seek to engage their followers by inviting them on emotional grounds to participate in a future vision. Charismatic leaders will willingly and opportunistically adapt their strategy to obtain their vision (Beddell et al.). Ideological leaders on the other had appeal to visions that emphasise traditions and common past experiences (Beddell et al.). This distinction brings into focus what type of leader is best suited for the current environment.

Beddell at al. (2006) reported on the orientation of leaders and differentiated between socialised leaders and personalized leaders. Socialized leaders try to improve and enable others in order to contribute to the improvement of society as a whole, whereas personalized leaders focus on the image their followers have of them. Beddell at al. noted that socialized leaders look farther into the future and are able to identify the important issues to be addressed. Integrity was identified as a critical determinant of performance and outcomes of outstanding leaders. Given the events of the last few years in the financial world, integrity in leaders may no longer be taken for granted.

Current leadership faces an environment that can be described as not dissimilar to the crises environments that were faced by the above mentioned leaders. The criteria of today and the future have changed from the immediate past. Current leaders continue to maintain mission statements that are unclear, wrongly focused or misleading; the social contract between leadership and followers that has been in place for decades has weakened to the point of ineffectiveness; concepts of justice and fairness are being reexamined (Handy, 2006). The ethical behavior of several leaders has called into question if current leaders can be trusted (Blanchard & Carey, 2006).

Transformational and charismatic leadership theory address the leadership styles that foster change by appealing to emotional rather than material values (Barbuto, 2005; Antonakis & House, 2002 Nahavandi, 2006). Twigg Fuller, and Hester (2008) found that transformational leadership fostered organizational commitment by stressing a sense of common participation. Twigg et al. found that transformational leadership style was a better determinant of citizenship behavior than other leadership styles. Twigg et al. noted that transformational leadership augments transactional leadership but goes beyond material exchanges. Transformational leaders establish covenants whereby commonly held beliefs and values are considered in addition to contractual obligations.

Examples of transformational leadership abound and can make the difference in achieving goals that transactional leadership is unable to achieve. In the organizational field, Kelly (2004) analysed NASA and concluded that there were two eras the first of which was characterized by recognized leaders and programs that were embraced by both the public and the organization. The second era on the other hand was seen as a bureaucracy subject to political and budget influences.

The difference between the two eras can be deduced from the leadership. President Kennedy in announcing that the United States would send a man to the moon and return him safely before the Russians did so was the transformational leadership that Scientist Werner von Braun and NASA Director Webb transactionally (Scott & Davis, 2007) put into effect.

Amernic, J., Craig, R., & Tourish, D. (2007, December). The transformational leader as pedagogue, physician, architect, commander, and saint: Five root metaphors in Jack Welch’s letters to stockholders of General Electric. Human Relations, 60(12), 1839.

Antonakis, J. & House, R.J.  (2002). The full-range leadership theory: The way forward. In Avolio, B. J. & Yammarino, F. J. (Eds.) (2002). Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: The Road Ahead. New York, Elsevier.

Barbuto, J. E,. Jr (2005). Motivation and Transactional, Charismatic, and Transformational Leadership: A test of antecedents Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies; 11,9(4);

Beddell, K., Hunter, S.,Angie, A.,& Vert,A.(2006). A historiometric examination of Machiavellianism and a new taxonomy of leadership. Journal of leadership and organizational studies, 12(41),15-32.

Blanchard, K. & Carey D. (2006) Regaining Public Trust; a leadership challenge. In Hesselbein, F., & Goldsmith, M. (2006). The leader of the future: Visions, strategies and practices for the new era. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cashman, K. (2008). Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Doz, Y., & Kosonen, M. (2008). Fast strategy: How strategic agility will help you stay ahead of the game. New York: Pearson/Longman

Goldsmith, M (2006) Leading new age professionals. . In Hesselbein, F., & Goldsmith, M. (2006). The leader of the future: Visions, strategies and practices for the new era. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & Mckee, A.(2002), Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. In Business Leadership. Jossey- Educational Leadership. San Francisco: A. Wiley

Handy, C. (2006) Philosopher leaders. In Hesselbein, F., & Goldsmith, M. (2006). The leader of the future: Visions, strategies and practices for the new era. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hesselbein, F., & Goldsmith, M. (2006). The leader of the future: Visions, strategies and practices for the new era. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Huang, G. C. (2005). Chiang Kai-Shek`s use of shame: an interpretive study of agency in Chinese leadership. Doctoral Dissertation University of Chicago. Chicago Illinois. Retrieved October 25, 2007, from ProQuest Digital Dissertations database.

Kelly, J. D. (2002). An organizational history of the national aeronautics and space administration: A critical comparison of administrative decision making in two pivotal eras. Los Angeles: School of Policy and Planning, University of Southern California

Nahavandi, A. (2006). The art and science of leadership (4th Ed.). Upper Saddle River New Jersey: Pearson Publishing Inc.

Navarro, P. (2006). The well-timed strategy: Managing the business cycle for competitive advantage. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Wharton School Pub.

O’Sullivan, D. & Dooley, L. (2009). Applying innovation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Scharmer, C. O. (2009). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Scott, W. & Davis, G. (2007). Organizations and organizing rational natural and open system perspectives. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Twigg N.W., Fuller J.B. & Hester, K.(2008). Transformational Leadership in Labor Organizations: The Effects on Union Citizenship Behaviors Journal of Labour Research.(2008) 29:27-41,27-41. Published online: 24 November 2007 Springer Science + Business Media B.V. Retrieved November 25 2008 from Emerald data base.

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