The History Of The Transformational Leaderships Education Essay

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Theories of leadership, over decades have explored a wide variety of concepts. Much research has been undertaken keeping in mind the western society both relating to organizations as well as political and other leaders. There is a dearth of a systematic leadership study in regards to either organizations or political leadership in third world countries especially in Pakistan. Journalistic appraisals are commonly done but theoretical analysis is sorely missing. Also, not much work has been done to explore the concept of transformational leadership among politicians both here and abroad. This paper wishes in some way to minimize this lack. When reading about Bhutto's life, the easiest course of action would have been to view her from the perspective of traits or simply charisma. The paper explores the contemporary concept of transformational leadership with regards to Benazir Bhutto. Her assassination formed the motivational factor to conduct such a research particularly on a personality known nationally and internationally as a leader. In addition, quantitative small scale researches are usually conducted from time to time, but very little attention is given to qualitative/descriptive/documentary research. Four aspects of transformational leadership that were studied include idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration.

Keywords: Transformational leadership, there are 4 main factors: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration.

1. Introduction

'Leadership is not easy. It is never meant to be easy. It is born of a passion, and it is a commitment-a commitment to an idea, to principles, to fundamental human values.' Benazir Bhutto

1.1 Background of the Study

The life of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (henceforth referred to as Bhutto) is not one that needs any introduction. Born into a privileged family, she had to take on the responsibility of not only running her party after the death of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but also face umpteen of other challenges that would have balked many a person. Twice coming to power as Prime Minister of Pakistan, she has the honour of being the first Muslim woman to have achieved that position. Her untimely death after her assassination on December 27, 2007 shocked the world to say the least. Numerous articles were published in magazines and newspapers across the globe. The plethora of such tributes can fill books. Yet if one assesses the very same, one realises that most speak of her unique leadership abilities that allowed her to not only come to power twice but also to try for the third time which cost her, her very life. Thus the study of leadership and assessing her qualities is of interest to many.


*Naheed Malbari is both a faculty member and a student at SZABIST. Currently she is doing her PHD in Social Sciences ( Dr J. Laghari is a professor at SZABIST (

Research problem

To ascertain the fact that Bhutto can be regarded as a transformational leader.

What extent did the mass media's portrayal after her assassination reaffirm the fact that Bhutto had transformational leadership qualities?

What extent did charisma play an important factor for Bhutto?

What extent has the media portrayed that the four factors of transformational leadership apply to Bhutto?

Research Objectives

Exploring the concept of Transformational Leadership and hoe I would apply it to Bhutto's achievements in the wake of the articles that were written after her assassination.

2. Transformational leadership: An overview

The term though coined by Downton (1973), the concept first emerged with the work of Burns (1978) which linked the role between leadership and followership. This new theory of leadership had intensive interest for two reasons. Western companies, like AT&T, IBM, GM, ventured into transformations and in the 1970's and 1980′s the business world became very much dynamic, more competitive and less stable. Fast technological changes, great international competition, commercial deregulation, too much capacity in capital intensive industries, unsteadiness of oil cartels, demographic labour changes etc., are some of the factors which brought to such a state (Stoner and Freeman, 1992).

Second, leadership's theoretic base rested on the trait theory, behaviouristic theory of leaders and contingency theory of leadership which did not take into consideration "untypical" qualities of leaders which required a new leadership concept.

Therefore the transformational theory of leadership gave forth a new dimension to leadership studies. Burns' (1978) concept distinguished between two types of leadership, namely transactional and transformational. Transactional refers to the exchanges between leaders and followers, where as transformational is when the person engages with others and creates a connection which raises level of motivation in both the leader and the follower. Some of the examples of internationally known transformational leaders include Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King. One question that comes to mind is about leaders like Hitler who also transformed society? Can they also be called Transformational leaders? When people transform society in negative ways and do not raise level of morality in others, they are described as Pseudo transformational leaders. They are self consumed, power oriented and exploitative with warped moral values.

There has been some research done on political leadership but the focus of these studies have usually been on just one aspect namely charisma (Bligh, Kohles and Meindl 2004 a&b; Emrich, Brower, Feldman and Garland, 2001; Mio, Riggio Levin and Reese, 2005; Seyranian and Bligh, 2007) and especially keeping in mind high profile leaders such as United States presidents (House, Spangler and Woycke, 1991). Most of such research has a quantitative analysis where the analysis may not overlook creative insights but also due to its frequent usage it is made to be more meaningful and most often words can be taken out of context. (Bligh et al., 2004b; Insch et al., 1997; Morris, 1994)

3. Transformational leadership of Bhutto

This research on Bhutto will be assessed on four parameters of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration which have been summed up as stated earlier. Each quality will first be individually analyzed and then compared to what journalists and others have stated on Bhutto's behalf.

3.1 Idealized influence

According to this concept transformational leaders often 'serve as role models for their followers. The leaders are admired respected and trusted…having extraordinary capabilities, persistence and determination' (Bass and Riggio, 2006). Not only this, but leadership theory should also stress on incidents where a leader has exerted exceptional influence on their followers so as to obtain favourable results (Bass, 1985; Mumford, 2006). This concept of idealized influence is based on leadership that has a future oriented vision and provides meaning and direction to a particular cause (Bass, 1990; Shamir, House and Arthur, 1993). Recent research also gives emphasis on ideological leadership where leaders seek followers who believe in the goals and value systems that give emphasis on the prescriptive mental model being given (Mumford, 2006). A current research which examines three areas of leadership has ideological factor as one of the main components (Mumford, Antes, Caughron & Friedrich, 2008). Thus, keeping all these factors in mind the assessment of Bhutto as having idealized influence on her followers has been undertaken.

Bhutto's idealized influence can be categorized into three areas in the articles reviewed. Firstly the authors discussed her dedication to her country and her aspirations as a leader to bring democracy to Pakistan. Gordon Brown (2008) the Prime Minister of Britain mentions her dedication. Others like Hillen, (2008) calls it her ''zeal for…democracy'; Gopal (2008) sees her as wanting to root out terrorism; Coates (2008) of her attracting strong party emotions; Ignatius, (2008) recalling her idealism and vision and her 'inner passion for change,' and Prasannarajan, (2008) speaking of her 'exceptionally singular' story and to combats odds of an 'under-developed civil society where power was nasty, brutal, tribal and masculine,' a transformational leader would be necessary.

3.2 Inspirational motivation

According to this concept transformational leaders 'motivate and inspire those around them by providing meaning and challenge to their followers work.' (Bass and Riggio, 2006) Such leaders envisage a future goal, a shared vision which they want their followers to share and achieve with them. Apart from this, such leaders portray great charisma which allows them to bind their followers to themselves and lead them towards social change. This concept of charismatic leadership is also not a new but a much researched one. It is one of the way in which one can understand an aspect of effective leadership (Hughes, Ginnett and Curphy, 2003). As previously stated the concept was initially used by Weber (1947) to understand and describe the characteristics political religious and military leaders. Later the concept was expanded by others to give and different conceptualization of charismatic leadership (House, 1977; Sashkin,1988; Shamir, House and Arthur 1993) and also became a part of transformational leadership in the theories of Bass and Avolio.(1994)

Concept of charismatic leadership which becomes a part of the motivational factor has been studied. The concept of visionary charismatic leadership is very important especially in times of crises as indicated in the study of Hunt, Boal and Dodge (1999). Two further aspects came to the forefront with on the one hand followers prefer leaders who portray charisma in conditions of crises (Pillai and Meindl, 1998) and followers attributing 'self sacrificial behaviour' of the leader under crisis conditions who were more likely to portray charisma (Halverson, Holladay, Kazama,and Quinoes (2004). Such studies portray the fact that stressful conditions do affect both the leader and the follower in how they are inspired and view charisma. Another aspect of inspirational motivation is to deal with how such leader appeal to their followers. Emotions of people are appealed to and self worth is enhanced (Emrich, Brower, Feldman and Garland, 2001; House, Spangler and Woyke, 1991)

Bhutto's inspirational motivation can be analyzed into two areas, namely to motivate and empower others on a shared vision and her charisma. On the count of motivating others, many authors have given glowing tributes. Gordon Brown (2008) calls it 'a part of her legacy that women are empowered…' and would use her for future role models; Miliband (2008) and Schofield (2008) describe her commitment towards democracy as a motivating factor; Lamb (2008) recalls her spouse Zardari calling his wife the 'queen bee' whose workers needed her alive to continue their struggle; Gopal (2008) realizes that Bhutto did inspire a generation both in life and in death to struggle for democracy; Prasannarajan (2008) states that despite threats she never shrank from her responsibility, took up challenges and made personal sacrifices for her vision and that such motivation is rarely seen; Baker (2008) sees the signing of the charter of democracy between two political opponents namely Bhutto and Sharif as a factor to restore decent politics and cjoining hands on a common denominator; Chua-Eoan (2008) despite critical comments concedes that Bhutto both in life and death drew millions.

Next many authors concede to the fact that Bhutto had a charismatic personality. Lamb (2008) calls Bhutto 'Boadicea riding her chariot' when seeing her on the bus and also recalls Zardari calling her a 'superwoman'; Hillen (20080 quoting Wallace calls Bhutto 'bigger than a human being-she was a spirit over there'; Hitchens (2008) speaks of her 'mass appeal…against the siren calls of the fundamentalists'; Thomas (2008) recalls Bhutto's 'star power,' and compares her allure to that of Elizabeth Taylor; Usher (2008) states that Bhutto's charisma made her political opponent Sharif call her his sister; Perlez and Burnett (2008) use words like 'charismatic' and 'striking', 'saviour' for millions of Pakistan's 'poor /;and disenfranchised'; Lewis (2008) gives a preview of her hard life and knows that a movie on her played by Meryl Streep for him would be a fitting end; Witte and Wax (2008) remember her party official Babar Awan calling her 'beautiful that day, in all the ways that a woman like her -bright energetic bursting with ideas and hope-could look beautiful.' Such charisma denotes why Bhutto had many staunch supporters.

3.3 Intellectual stimulation

Such transformational leaders 'stimulate their followers' efforts to be innovative and creative.' Followers are encouraged to try out new ideas and such ideas are viewed in the light that a better solution to the problem may be realized. Followers are not criticized if their ideas are in any way different from the ideas of the leader (Bass and Riggio, 2006). This concept has been explained differently and in various contexts. Some call it as a quality of a pragmatic leader. Such a leader does require their workers to unite and work for common goals (Mumford and Van Doorn, 2001). In a recent study Mumford et al (2008) realized that for the emergence of pragmatic leaders there has to be a minimum level of group cohesion. Apart from this, the same study also indicated that pragmatic leaders 'may seek to minimize political conflict due to the detrimental effects of intense conflict on the effective application of complex problem solving skills.' This factor is an important aspect of intellectual stimulation as such a quality can harness together differing viewpoints and opinions even from the opposition.

Emotionally intelligent leadership is also an attribute of great leadership (Goleman, 1995) Practical intelligence and the need to modify any environment to suit the situation is also what transformational leaders need to do. Another aspect of intellectual stimulation can be accessed through the lens of 'aesthetic perception.' This recent qualitative study by Ladkin (2008), embodies and focuses on 'leading beautifully' and will lead to a different direction for leadership studies in the future. Followers can get stimulated in a wide variety of ways. The power to arouse ones followers intellectually can have lasting effects. An example of it would be Obama's books being published before the election campaigns.

3.4 Individualized Consideration

Once again transformational leaders pay attention to 'followers needs for achievement and growth by acting as a coach and mentor.' New ways and opportunities of learning are evolved and individual desires and needs are seen to. The individual is regarded as a 'whole person rather than just an employee,' and the task of the leader is to develop the followers. (Bass and Riggio, 2006)

This aspect is seen under two areas. The first one is her immense kindness to others and her concern for them. Schofield (2008) speaks of her 33 year association with Bhutto and states that 'as a friend, she was kind and generous.' Barak (2008) recalls his own incident of injury and her kindness to him which must have endeared her to people the world over. In a similar manner, Thapar (2008) too remembers Bhutto giving regular calls when his own wife was seriously ill. Lamb (2008) too speaks of Bhutto's hand written will which she had written prior to her death as how to dispose of her belongings with details of how even her shoes and clothes should be distributed among her employees.

4. Conclusion

One needs to remember that these articles written by non-Pakistanis days or at the most a couple of weeks after Bhutto's assassination were spontaneous reactions to her death. When doing such a research, one needs to keep in mind that these articles were not written specifically about her as a leader, but simply as what people thought of her in the aftermath of her death. These facts can be taken in two ways. Some may state that the sympathy lay with Bhutto as she was so tragically assassinated and thus any articles written after her death would therefore endeavour to shed light on her in a favourable way. On the other hand these articles can be viewed differently with the fact that when people write on such a topic so soon after her demise, true sentiments are revealed as there is very little time to reflect or couch ones words as stress often reveals the truth.

In the former i.e. idealized influence, the articles did prove that without doubt Bhutto did influence her followers on this parameter. Bhutto has often been regarded as someone who possessed these very same qualities. Thus these western writers have oft quoted as her being a woman who challenged many of the prevailing norms of women not taking the centre stage in a developing country like Pakistan. She was one who was able to look ahead into the future and envisage a modern forward moving Pakistan. Such leaders endear them- selves to the public especially those who want to move on and make the best of what they have.

Numerous examples were available in the articles regarding Bhutto's inspirational motivation. The fact that she did have a different vision from the usual military leadership in the country and did take personal risks which led to her untimely death are all testimony to the fact that she did inspire masses to what she envisaged for her country Pakistan. Therefore one can conclude in retrospect that as a charismatic leader Bhutto was able to initiate once again a mass movement towards restoration of democracy.

Little substance was available on her intellectual stimulation in the articles but that is understandable as such information would be more readily available with party workers and others she was directly in contact with. However an important aspect of her leadership abilities that should be mentioned is that the articles did state that apart from ideological and motivational/charismatic qualities, in the recent years, Bhutto had matured into several aspects of a pragmatic leader with her 'Reconciliation' book that tried to bridge the east/west dichotomy as well as with taking along her political opponent Sharif into signing the Charter of Democracy so as to minimize political conflict. Also the study is limited to these two editors who incorporated international and national articles in the aftermath of her death. Her book 'Reconciliation' and the reviews in Halepota's book by the press abroad, have not been included which might have provided insightful other details on this aspect. This analysis could be a matter of a separate study on the subject.

Also though information has been available on the aspect of individualized consideration this too has not been as detailed as the first two aspects. One factor that came to the forefront is that Bhutto was immensely kind to many both friend and opponent. Also she understood the need of the Pakistani people to mix and 'press the flesh' was her undoing. Many people comment that she took unnecessary risks but that had always been her way and thus could not envisage doing anything different.

The dearth of research especially on transformational leadership in our political leaders is unfortunate. The lessons one can learn from analyzing a leader in the qualitative context may give an impetus in others coming forward and doing such research. The public in Pakistan is politically conscious yet only journalistic analysis has been undertaken so far. One hopes this research minimizes this lack to a small extent.