loren Eric Swanson: Transformational Leadership by Earnest T. Bass

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Transformational Leadership by Earnest T. Bass


Bass, Bernard M. Transformational Leadership: Industrial, Military, and Educational Impact. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1998.

“Evidence has accumulated that transformational leadership can move followers to exceed expected performance.” P. 2

“Since the early 1980s, civilian studies in business firms, government agencies, and other civilian organizations along with military research have supported the greater effectiveness of transformational leadership in contrast to transactional leadership in generating subordinate extra effort, commitment, satisfaction, and contribution to military readiness.” P. 3

“The model portrays transactional leadership as contingent reinforcement. Reinforcement is in the form of a leader’s promises and rewards or threats and disciplinary actions; reinforcing behavior is contingent on the follower’s performance. The transformational leader moves the follower beyond self-interests and is charismatic, inspirational, intellectually stimulating, and/or individually considerate.” P. 3

“For as Levinson (1980) suggested, if you limit leadership of a follower to rewards with carrots for compliance or punishment with a stick for failure to comply with agreed-upon work to be done by the follower, the follower will continue to feel like a jackass. Leadership must also address the follower’s sense of self-worth in order to engage the follower in true commitment and involvement in the effort at hand. This is what transformational leadership adds to the transactional exchange. Shamir (1991) developed a theory to explain this effect
Transformational leaders motivate others to do more than they originally intended and often even more than they thought possible. They set more challenging expectations and typically achieve higher performances.
Transformational leadership is an expansion of transactional leadership. Transactional leadership emphasizes the transaction or exchange that takes place among leaders, colleagues, and followers. This exchange is based on the leader discussing with others what is required and specifying the conditions and rewards these others will receive if they fulfill those requirements.” P. 4

Transformational leaders do more with colleagues and followers than set up simple exchanges or agreements. They behave in ways to achieve superior results by employing one or more of the four components of transformational leadership….[T]he components of transformational leadership. Leadership is charismatic such that the follower seeks to identify with leaders and emulate them. The leadership inspires the follower with challenge and persuasion providing a meaning and understanding. The leadership is intellectually stimulating, expanding the follower’s use of their abilities. Finally, the leadership is individually considerate, providing the follower with support, mentoring and coaching. Each of these components can be measured with the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) (See p. 5 for further definition) P. 5

When peers of VMI military cadet leaders were asked what characterized the important traits of a good leader, they tended to describe traits of inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration such as: self-confidence, persuasiveness, concern for the well being of others, the ability to articulate one’s ideas and thoughts, providing models to be emulated by others, holding high expectations for themselves and others, keeping others well-informed, maintaining high motivation in themselves….Invariably, for well over 2,000 trainees, the characteristics of the ideal leader included the components of transformational leadership and contingent reward. P. 14

The three factors of transformational leadership embrace individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, and charismatic inspiration. Likewise, three factors are included in transactional leadership: contingent reward, active management-by-exception. A seventh factor is non-leading laissez-faire. The newer paradigm of transformational and transactional leadership does not replace the older paradigm that leadership can be directive or participative, for transformational and transactional leadership can be either directive or participative. Evidence has been amassed that transformational leadership is more effective than contingent reward, and contingent reward is more effective than management-by exception. Least effective is laissez-faire leadership. Such evidence has been found for commitment, involvement, loyalty, and performance. P. 17

By articulating a vision or a mission, the transformational leader increases the intrinsic value of goal accomplishment. Going Beyond a transactional leader’s specifying and clarifying the goals, the transformational leader presents the values in the goals. Accomplishment of the goals becomes more meaningful and consistent with the self-concepts of the followers. Emphasized also by the transformational leader is the importance of the goal as a basis for group identity, further connecting self-identity with group identity. P. 23

…transformational leaders both enhance follower commitment, and at the same time, serve to reduce employees’ feelings of stress. Indeed,…transactional leadership increases feelings of stress, whereas transformational leadership decreases such feelings. P. 27

Mechanistic versus organic organizations. Burns and Stalker (1966) originated the now well-accepted distinction between the mechanistic and the organic organizations. Mechanistic organizations feature bureaucracy—elaborate control systems and strong hierarchies. Organic organizations feature decentralized decision making and adaptive learning. We expect that managing-by-exception would be easier to pursue in mechanistic organizations, and transformational leadership and contingent rewarding will emerge more frequently in organic organizations. Mechanistic organizations discourage change and inhibit individual differences, motives, and attitudes (House, 1992), making managing-by-exception easier to accomplish.
Organic organizations are open to more variation and experimentation with attendant greater risk-taking, fitting better the prescription for transformational leadership. Mechanistic organizations work better in stable, predictable environments. Organic organizations work better in unstable, uncertain, turbulent environments. P. 56

Thus, we are likely to see adaptive firms led by transformational leaders who endorse assumptions such as: people are trustworthy and purposeful; complex problems can be delegated to the lowest level possible; mistakes can be the basis of how to do a better job rather than a source for recriminations. The transformational leaders articulate a sense of vision and purpose to followers. They align the followers around the vision and empower followers to take responsibility for achieving portions o the vision. When necessary, the leaders become teachers; personal responsibility is accepted by the leaders for the development of their followers to the followers’ full potential. P. 64

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