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Comparison of Transformational Leaders and Pseudo Transformational Leaders

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Leadership
Wordcount: 3327 words Published: 12th May 2021

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For a transformational leader to be genuinely authentic, he or she needs to be an ethical moral representative. “A leader is praiseworthy as a moral agent if he or she possesses a developed conscience and acts in ways that are kind, charitable and altruistic rather than selfish or maleficent.” (Character and Authentic Transformational Leadership). A leader will serve his team to ensure they are prepared to be developed a skilled for any obstacle. Leaders should be held accountable based on their behaviors, means used, and the rewards or consequences achieved. Authentic transformational leadership can be defined as “a leader who demonstrates ethical behavior and personal character while performing the four leadership behaviors including idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999). Pseudo-transformational leadership is the exact parallel of transformational leadership. “Pseudo-transformational is considered personalized leadership, which focuses on the leader’s own self-interest rather than the interest of others” (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999).  Although transformational leaders drive long-standing organizational turnarounds, “pseudo-transformational leaders tend to make short-term gains that ultimately result in long-term costs.” (Kraft 2015). Transformational leadership is about building relationships and preserving communication which is focused around a shared vision, goals, and values. There are several reproaches of the theory of transformational leaders which incorporate that leaders use impression management and can be responsible to accusations of amorality, consensus, participative decision-making and manipulate followers for the leader 's purposes and potentially against their own, and that it can lead to dictatorship and oppression of the minority view by the majority. In this paper, I would like to dispute that negative theory as I believe authentic transformational leaders are the true ethnical leaders. In this paper, I will show how transformational leaders are better than pseudo transformational leaders. As such they are involved with 1) their moral character and their worries for self and others; 2) the ethical values instilled in their vision and communication which followers can choose to embrace or reject; and 3) the morality of the action in which the leaders and followers engage and pursue.

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Moral character and concern for self and others

The difference of the moral character and the way that they show concern for their self and others are important differences between authentic and pseudo transformational leaders. There is a difference between authentic transformational leaders “as moral agents, expand the domain of effective freedom, the horizon of conscience” (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999) instead of the narcissism, flawed vision, and need for power which is demonstrated by the pseudo transformational leaders. “We are referring, not so much to what is done, as to the kind of the of person by whom we take it to have been done. We connect, by means of imputed motives and intentions, with the character of the agent.” (Mayo, 2014, p.141). A leader is worthy as a moral agent if he/she owns a good conscience and acts in ways that are nice, generous and unselfish. Pseudo-transformational leaders will display that they do not have a well-established conscience and take actions with destructive intentions. Aristotle would also say that “leaders cannot be ‘accidentally just,’ nor can they be just if they merely appear to be serving the interests of followers when, in fact, they are not” (O’Toole, 2005, p. 203).

Leadership should not be confused with bossy micromanagement. Leadership begins with “the virtues that allow a leader to articulate the emotions and aspirations of others, to inspire them with trust and hope.” (Solomon, 1999, p.62). Leaders who oversees their followers in order to suit his/her own interests instead of the followers’ interests, can only be exercising a dictatorship which is the true definition of pseudo transformational leadership. The leader shouldn’t be submissive which would be a defect of transformational leadership. Although this doesn’t mean that a transformational leader shouldn’t show power. Any type of leader must display some type of power and utilize it to motivate his team. Authentic transformational leaders inspire and engage and use their talents to empower others while the pseudo transformational leader will use their power for self-gain. “This distinction reaches the core of transformational leadership, where leadership that abuses power by maximizing self-interest, irrespective of followers’ interests, is antithetical to authentic transformational leadership.” (Christie, Barling, and Turner p. 2944).

Most text view leadership as a single segment but it truly requires a great team of members. I believe an organization should provide everyone the opportunity of recognizing individual excellence. Instead a leader’s self-interest should be bundled with serving the interest of all within the organization. An honest leader must have a positive view of organizational needs and goals so they can achieve them. True authentic leaders seek to improve their organization, acting out of selfless concern for others and placing their self-interest below that of their followers. “At all times, the conscious goal of a just leader is to help followers achieve what is good for them which, on occasion, may be something different from what they think they want (O’Toote, 2005, p.199). To the pseudo individuals everything has a price. Pseudo-leaders feel as if they can purchase followers support by using money, rewards, and incentives. “A pseudo transformational leader has strong inspirational talent and appeal but is manipulative and dominates and directs his/her followers towards his/her own values (Northouse 2019).” As a transformational leader it is imperative that I model what ethnical behavior looks like for my team.

The two forms of leadership also differ when it comes to showing concern for themselves and others. Servant leadership is also a factor that can be included when it comes to concern for the team and themselves. “Servant leaders place the good of the followers over their own self -interests and emphasize follower development (Hale & Fields, 2007).” While “Authentic transformational leadership provides a more reasonable and realistic concept of self -- a self that is connected to friends, family, and community whose welfare may be more important to oneself than one’s own.” (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999). In contrast, pseudo transformational leaders are dictated by self-interest and disregards the interest of their team. Concluding that what works for the leader is more important than what is best for the rest of the organization. Pseudo transformation leaders use their followers to their end of self-advancement. They only care about their team in relation to how they can use them to attain their personal goals. “The most insidious trap in business ethics is the forced polarity between what one ought to do and what is in one’s own self-interest, as if these were always and necessarily opposed.” (Solomon, 1999, p.32). While it may happen occasionally, a continuous pattern of this forced polarity usually shows a lack of vision, thought, and imitation on the part of leader. This will not be a continuous problem for the transformational leader who has a vision that is communicated with his or her team.

“Servant leadership also focuses more on the need of followers, empower followers, and help them to develop their full human capacity (Northouse, 2015).” A leadership that have the belief of serving others first before self-interest. Also, a leader that is more worried with the less privilege people and focusing on removing inequalities and social injustice. Servant leadership also includes 10 characteristics of listening first to the team; utilize empathy by trying to recognize what the team is thinking and feeling; focus on the well-being of the team and help assist with their personal complications; ability to be conscious of the leader’s own physical, social, and ethical environment; ability to influence the team in a ethical manner; capability to be visionary of the organization; ability to discern the future of the organization based on the present and previous experiences; a leader that can pursue the responsibility of managing a team, and advance their personal life and profession; and the skill to contribute to the development of the organization (Spears, 2002).

Some may claim though that transformational leaders use impression management and thus can be liable to accusations of amorality, but as the above research shows it is the pseudo transformational leader who is to blame for this. “Impression management refers to the process by which people attempt to influence the image others have of them (Rosenfeld, Giacalone, & Riordan, 1995).” Discovering their moral purpose is job one and forming relationships is job two for the leader. Transformational leaders motivate their followers to push beyond their own self-interest to what is best for the team. Transformational leaders must remain ethical rather than amoral because a team will quickly lose faith in a leader who was caught lying.

The ethical values embedded in their vision and articulation

Authentic leaders acknowledge the ethical values embedded in their vision and articulation which followers can choose to embrace or reject. Pseudo leaders will expect their team to support their vision which may violate ethnical values of the followers. While it is important for the leader to recognize the common good, they also need to be able to communicate openly to their team consistently. The transformational leader is transparent with their team while the pseudo leader tries to mislead or trick their team into following their vision. The leader does not need to totally know what he or she is doing when formulating their vision. “The more important defining part of leadership comes from “the articulation of the appropriate emotions and inspiration of trust, and this will often be an overriding passion to do the right thing.” (Solomon, 1999, p.63). The transformational leader will want to distribute their leadership with a multitude of followers while their pseudo leader counterparts will want to create control by taking recognition for all the ideas that the team creates.

The responsibility of the just leader is to actively create organizational conditions where the team works together to achieve the common good which will permit each follower to find security and joy within the job. This happiness can be attained by the leader assisting the team to reach their individual physical, mental, and emotional needs. This means that the leader works to create a sense feeling of intensive involvement when at work for their followers. If Aristotle is correct about the requirements most men and women need in order to achieve happiness, odds are that most leaders will motivate their team to willingly choose to do what is both good for them and for their organization. This does not mean that a pseudo transformational leader cannot be delighted as well. It has been disputed that the immoral man – even a tyrant with great power (i.e. the pseudo transformational leader) – may be happy. Some may still disagree that transformational leadership goes against the theory of shared leadership, harmony, participative decision-making and influence the team for the leader 's purposes and possibly against their own.

Transformational leadership does not challenge the individual’s self-interest for the good of the organization but rather attempts to discover a relationship between the two. They do this by establishing relationships between those leading and those being led where the followers are identified as having a function to live an acceptable life. This means that they are identified as rational beings instead of serving as a mean to achieving the pseudo leaders’ self-serving vision.

Morality of the action which is joined and pursued.

When we talk about the moral value of leadership and speak that a certain kind of leadership is nicer than the other, we are not just communicating about the action. “Behind every action, and prior to the consequences of action, is the person, the personality, who is not just an agent but a human being.” (Solomon, 1999, p. 63). Before the leader can do, they must be by discovering and applying a virtue until it becomes a pattern. A virtue is a value made into action. In business, the virtues include activities which involve dealing with the team’s desires and demands. The three most fundamental virtues are honesty, fairness, and trustworthiness.

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Transformational leaders are ethically productive; pseudo transformational leaders are misleading, authoritarian, and demand blind obedience. Transformational leadership integrates an including approach, it is progress which closely unites the leader and the team, and both inspire a higher level of motivation for one another. Transformational leaders advocate for the intellectual motivation of the team. This inspires the team to examine the expectations of the leader and to produce more creative solutions to the problems. However, there are leaders who do not like when the team disagrees with them or doubt their orders. “Pseudo-transformational leaders cannot afford to allow followers to think for them-selves, as this could interfere with the achievement of their self-serving goals.” (Christie, Barling, and Turner p. 2947). Instead of this engagement, it should be the leader’s objective to provide an environment in which the team can cultivate both their skills and qualities. This is essential because behind every action is a person “who is not just an agent but a human being.” (Solomon 1999, p. 63).

The pseudo leaders will acknowledge the good of the group while damaging foundational ideas and individual identity. “Aristotle says the good of the community is ‘greater and more perfect’ than the good of any one individual.” (O’Tootle, 2005, p.187). The transformational leader motivates their followers to question while pseudo transformational leaders portray a false interest in followers’ questions while they actively discourage opposing beliefs, independent views, and critiques from followers. “The complete absence of troublesome situations may be a sign of totalitarian management rather than anticipatory insight.” (Solomon, 1999, p. 59). While pseudo-transformational leaders can utilize control over their team, their absence of character and ethical behavior ultimately project harm to their team. Authentic transformational leaders, by performing on a foundational set of compassionate values, bring out the most excellence of their teams. Transformational leaders encourage their followers by conveying and modeling enthusiasm, dedication, integrity, versatility, and innovation. An exceptional leader will not silence or discourage ethical employees but as an alternative they will pay attention to them. They influence their team to envision and perform towards stretch goals by expressing a vision usually through deception. This does not mean that the transformational leader needs to explain every part of their vision to the follower.

The point remains that without authentic leadership the organization is dehumanized. “To dehumanize human activity is to forget that real flesh-and-blood human beings, with feelings and families, with real cares and concerns are not only the agent of the activity but its beneficiaries and its reason for being. (Solomon, 1999, p. 3). When the organization is dehumanized it is lowered to an amoral activity. A pseudo transformational leader leaves out the personal connections to the team and responsibilities which gives life to their work and empowers the formation of the organization.

Some may debate that transformational leadership can lead to authoritarian behavior and oppression of the minority stance by the majority. Genuine transformational leadership requires for sacrifice on the part of the team, but it does not essentially demand that an individual 's interests be cast aside for the greater of the organization. The transformational leader makes every effort to achieve a genuine compromise in supporting both the individual and organization interests.


While it is crucial to make a profit in an organization, it is more imperative to become a moral leader. While the pseudo transformational leader may achieve short term goals faster, they will feel from the long-term consequences of their behaviors. This paper argued that authentic ethnical transformational leaders are the true ethnical leaders. I completed this by displaying how transformational leaders are better than pseudo transformational leaders. As such they are concerned with 1) their moral character and their concerns for self and others; 2) the ethical values embedded in their vision and articulation which followers can choose to embrace or reject; and 3) the morality of the action in which the leaders and followers engage and pursue. Moral objective is job one and producing relationships is job two for the leader. Transformational leaders inspire their team to transpire further than their own self-interest to what is better for the organization. Transformational leadership does not challenge individual self-interest for the better of the organization but rather attempts to find a difference between the two. True transformational leadership demands for surrender on the part of the follower, but it does not essentially demand that an individual 's concerns be swept aside for the good of the organization. If a leader wants to adhere to an Aristotelian approach in their leadership, they must become authentic transformational leaders. This will guarantee that they are true ethical leaders who can be committed to make the appropriate decisions regarding their teams’ security and happiness.

Works Cited

  • Bass BM, Steidlmeier P (1999) Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behavior. Leadersh Q 10:181–217. doi: 
  • Bolino, M. C. 1999 Citizenship and impression management: Good soldiers or good actors. Academy of Management Review, 24:82-98.
  • “Character and Authentic Transformational Leadership.” Wright.Edu, 2019, www.wright.edu/~scott.williams/LeaderLetter/character.htm. Accessed 07 Dec. 2019.
  • CHRISTIE, AMY, et al. “Pseudo-Transformational Leadership: Model Specification and Outcomes1.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 41, no. 12, Dec. 2011, pp. 2943–2984, 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00858. x. Accessed 09 Dec 2019.
  • Kraft, D. (2015). Pseudo-Transformational Leadership in the Workplace. Work. Houston, TX: Hearst Publications.
  • Mayo, Bernard. Ethics and the Moral Life. London, UK: Macmillan and Co Ltd. 1958
  • Northouse, Peter. Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles [Und 4 Weitere] Sage, 2015.
  • O’toole, James. Creating the Good Life: Applying Aristotle’s Wisdom to Find Meaning and Happiness. Emmaus, Pa., Rodale, Cop, 2005, p. 203.
  • ‌10.1016/S1048-9843(99)00016-8Solomon, R. (1999), A Better Way to Think about Business: How Personal Integrity Leads to Corporate Success, Oxford University Press, Oxford.


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