Many Leadership Styles, What’s Yours?

A global look at transformational and transactional leadership styles

Business today is global as so is leadership.

No one can escape it; what happens on the global stage affects us all. This raises an interesting question: Are the principal dimensions of successful leadership universally applicable, or do different regions or countries display alternative approaches?

In their work “Transformational leadership: an examination of cross-national differences and similarities,” authors Karen Boehnke, Nick Bontis, Joseph J. DiStefano and Andrea C. DiStefano.

They reveal two major leadership styles:

  1. Transactional leadership: defned as “a series of exchanges and bargains between leaders and followers”
  2. Transformational leadership: “goes beyond exchanging inducements for desired performance by developing, intellectually stimulating and inspiring followers to transcend their own self-interests for a higher collective purpose.”

This refects the work of James MacGregor Burns, who in his book “Leadership” described these two styles and concluded that the simple essence of leadership is a relationship between two or more people. How these relationships play out makes a great deal of difference; and while both leadership styles are needed, they are needed in different situations and with different people.

The Differences

There are distinct differences between transactional leaders, who view relationships as a series of exchanges (“I’ll give you this, if you give me that”), and transformational leaders, who seek to change the playing ?eld by moving beyond the usual approach, appreciating the subtleties involved (the inherent untapped potential) to generate new ways of working and new incentives.

Rousers instinctively deploy each approach as appropriate. Yet there is no denying that transformational leadership has the potential to raise everyone’s game. The simple reason for this is that it taps directly into our instinctive need for fair play and social cohesion.

When we feel we belong and are valued, and when we feel we can trust the person leading us, we will be motivated and energized, and we will follow.

This is no small achievement: We only follow whom we trust, and trust is not easy to gain. For a leader, no matter at what level within an organization, to gain the trust and loyalty of those around them matters. The long-term success of the organization depends on it.

Next- Types of transformational leaders identified and respective clusters

Luis Gallardo
Luis Gallardo
Luis Gallardo is a global brand and marketing leader and expert in the areas of strategic brand management, brand engagement, brand expression, marketing, communications, business development, and reputation management. Former managing director of global brand & marketing at Deloitte, Luis provided leadership to Deloitte's member firm network of more than three thousand marketing and communications professionals. Author of the book: Brands & Rousers, The Holistic System to Foster High-Performing Businesses, Brands and Careers. Luis is the founder of Thap Group, a multinational consultancy focused on brand, marketing and communications strategy, and he sits on the advisory board of several high-growth organizations.

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