Transformational Leadership Theory And Criticism

Posted under Uncategorized on Monday 10 December 2012 at 1:22 am

transformational leadershipDevelopment of Transformational Leadership Theory

The concept of transformational leadership was firstly introduced in 1978 by James McGregor Burns, who created  The Model of Moral, Transaction and Transformational Leaders. Burns presented T-type leader as a person, who “… recognizes and exploits an existing need or demand of a potential follower…  looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower” (Burns, 1978).

Later on, a famous theorist Bernard Bass has been investigating the issues of transformational leadership. He modified the Model of Burns, determining T-type leaders as leaders with higher requirements and personal qualities, like ability to mobilize a person to reach needs of higher level in Maslow’s hierarchy, or ability to change social environment, etc. In 1985 Bennis and Nanus did an experimental study, which helped to differentiate Transactional and Transformational leaders. These specialists launched principle of “4 I’s” for T-type leaders, which helped to clarify transformational concept (see previous article here).

Seven Principles of  Transformational Leadership by Eric Rees

A modern American researcher Eric Rees offers a very interesting model for this type of leadership, which is called “Seven Principles of transformational leadership”. It illustrates structural approach to successful transformational leadership and can be useful for studying and consideration.

The first is Principle of Simplification, which shows ability of a T-type leader to make the followers understand their final goals by creating transformational vision, the concept of particular organizational activity. The second is Principle of Motivation, which means encouraging, challenging and motivating people to develop organizational activity according to the vision. The third Principle of Facilitation means ability of a T-type leader to organize the process of learning, training or practicing, and to make it the most effective.

The other Principle of Mobilization and Principle of Innovation display correspondingly abilities of T-type leaders to accumulate the leaders of lower levels around the vision and to launch any sort of changes, when they are required. Two last Principle of Preparation and Principle of Determination are the most important for transformational leadership. Preparation means readiness of a T-type leader to develop and strengthen his leadership by improving his personal qualities. Determination of such a leader shows his willpower to fulfill the mission of organization no matter what.

Criticism 0f  Transformational Leadership Theory

Some theorists criticize the concept of transformational leadership, blaming it in lack of ethical backgrounds. The idea that transformational leadership contradicts principles of organizational development is also among their counter arguments. Their opinion is that T-type leaders may not be successful due to their extreme determination and passion, which may mislead them and cause mistakes. In addition, such critics say that T-type leaders may easily manipulate with the activities of the followers, making them make numerous efforts beyond their own interests.

But a number of management specialists, like Bernard Bass or Gill Hickman, see no reason to argue against transformational leadership. They underline that transformational leadership is a universal concept, which effectively works in different organizations and businesses. Besides, T-type leaders are individuals with very high moral and personal values, who always follow principles of freedom, equality and collective welfare. These leaders can solve the hardest and most complex organizational problems, because they are able to re-evaluate individual and collective values, motivate people, transform and restructure the group and lead it to success and achievements.

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