Compare and contrast any two theories of leadership In the following essay I will look at leadership, its definition and compare and contrast two theories behind it. I will firstly see if there is a distinction between leadership and management as suggested by John Kotter(1990) who goes on further to stress that organisations require both a leader and a manager but the function can be provided by a single individual. I will then look at some definitions of leadership such as that by Bryman(1999), “The process of influencing the activities of an organized group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal attainment”.
The two leadership theories which I will compare and contrast are transactional and transformational. I will also look at other factors such as organisational type and gender and see what impact they have on the above theories. I will finally conclude with what I have found and understood from researching this topic. What is leadership and is it different from management? Before I examine any theories on this subject it is important to understand what is meant by leadership. The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2010), gives“the set of characteristics that make a good” as one of its three definitions for leadership.
Belbin (1981) suggests that leadership is not only about the job but also about the quality that could be brought to the job through leadership. I understand leadership to be a method or process by a group or individual to produce desired outcomes. This is on par with Bryman’s (1999) definition as quoted in the introduction. So how does this differ from management? The dictionary definition of “the technique or practice of managing or controlling”, Collins (2003) and this is similar in other references. Adair (1997) asks “What does it matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice”.
Perhaps the two terms are interchangeable as they both rely on the application of influence to get a workforce to commit to accomplishing a given task. From Adairs statement it could be argued that they are different descriptions of the same thing. Transactional leadership relies on the workers behaviour being influenced by means of reward by the leader. There is co-dependency between the leader and the worker, one has to offer the other something for a desired outcome. A real life example of transactional leadership is the use of commission in the sales industry. Performance to the leader’s requirement or expectation is rewarded.
This could be seen as one of the advantages of this type of leadership, that is it provides a clear idea of what is required. Watch any episode of the BBC television programme ‘The Apprentice’ and this theory is clearly demonstrated throughout. The main disadvantage becomes clear, the assumption is everyone is motivated by monetary rewards and this is simply untrue. In contrast transformational leadership is the infusion of motivation and inspiration into the workers to do the work by their leader as suggested by Anita(2008)“You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message.
What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organisation. ” The election campaign that was run by the now US President, Barak Obama, was transformational. Obama influenced the voters with his charisma and motivated them by addressing issues that appealed to them. This highlights another disadvantage of transactional leadership. It does not engage the worker into dialogue with the leader to come up with alternate solutions.
Transformational leadership inspires individuals and groups to think more openly about what affects them and solutions that would resolve their issues. However this level of freedom could result in a lot of different directions to develop a single vision given by the leader. Does the type of organisational sector, private or public, have an impact on the type of leadership theory that can be applied? It could be argued that a leader’s level in an organisation and the type of organisation will have an impact on both their behaviour and their leadership style.
Bass(1985) argues that organic, less constrictive, environments such as the private sector would most likely produce transformational leaders. This is in contrast to the transactional leadership found within the public sector which is more constrictive, mechanistic. Public entities such as local councils and the Metropolitan Police Service, MPS, have policy and procedures as well as organisational traditions and values. The MPS changes its values and goals each time the Commissioner changes. Similarly local councils will change their targets and goals according to the political party running them locally and nationally.
Changes in these organisations are often due to high level decisions being made and the results to be followed and achieved by the lower ranks. In contrast private companies such as Semco, manufacturing, have more flexible arrangements. Employees were given the freedom to arrange their working hours with their co-workers and have taken responsibility over everything from the canteen food menus to the location of new plants and new product designs. This highlights some advantages of this type of leadership. It creates learning opportunities and looks forward into the future.
This is in contrast to the dealing of present issues that transactional leadership addresses by setting short term goals. Also unlike transactional leadership it motivates workers to work beyond self- interests. As women gain positions of influence and power in business due to varying factors, ranging from gender and equality legislations to shifts in attitudes, the possible relationship between gender and leadership comes up. Does gender have an impact on leadership? I would expect there to be an impact due the socialisation, cultural beliefs and expectations of the society we live in.
Peters and Waterman(1982) reported that ‘irrational intuitive qualities which they describe as feminine are required for management success. The British Institute of Management (1994) argue that “the female ways of managing will be more appropriate in the millennium”. They go on further to say that “organisational structures will be less hierarchical, will rely more on teamwork and consensus management, and ‘feminine’ skills of communication and collaborative work will come to the fore”. I understand this to be transformational leadership. However there is belief that the gender of a leader does not really affect their leadership style. .. The association of women with nurturance, warmth and intuition lies at the heart of traditional and oppressive conceptions of womanhood … values ascribed to women in a world where men are more powerful than woman” (Wajcman 1998). In conclusion Transactional and transformational leadership theories are different in their approaches. While they can be stereotyped as belonging to a specific gender the leader requires a balance of both as suggested by Bass(1985). This essay has been limited by a number of things. The word limit has not allowed me to look at all aspects of transactional and transformational leadership.
I have not fully looked at or develop the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) that Bass(1985) developed to assess the different leadership styles and the research that has been carried out on this. My research in the subject indicated that both leadership types are relatively new concepts with information available being limited to mainly certain types of industry such as the military for transactional leadership. In regard to research carried out on links between gender and leadership it needs to be noted that western cultural beliefs and perception of women have an impact on the results.
The fact that women bear children stereotypes them as maternal, caring and transformation in the leadership. From personal experience of working in retail and in the civil service both with women managers I can say this is not always the case. In both cases they used both styles of leadership depending on situation. The same applies to male managers I have worked with in both sectors who would normally be transactional leaders until they need to negotiate solutions at which point they become transformational. The drawbacks of one style are the strengths of the other. I think the two complement each other and should be as such.
References Adair , J. (1997), Leadership Skills, Chattered Institute of Personnel and Development, London. Anita (2008) Bass B. M. (1985), Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: The Free Press. Belbin, R M (1981), Management Teams: Why they succeed or fail, Butterworth/Heinemen, Oxford. Boddy, D (2008), Management: An Introduction,4th Ed,Financial Times/Prentice Hall, Harlow. Colonel Homrig, M A (2001), Retrieved from Kotter, J P (1990), A force for Change: How leadership differs from management, Free Press, New York. McCrimmon, M (2008), Transformational Leadership; Benefits and Limitations of Transformational Leadership from