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Leadership is the process of influencing other people to behave in preferred ways to accomplish organizational objectives (David H. Holt and Karren W. Wigginton). In the 1970s, leadership theories approaching effectiveness was dominant, for example, path-goal theory (House & Mitchell, 1974). Since the late 1980s, new style of leadership theory emerged, as charismatic leadership (Conger &Kanungo, 1998; Hunt, Boal, & Dodge, 1999), visionary leadership (Sashkin, 1988), and also transformational leadership (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1999). However, much of the leadership research has concentrated on characteristics and specific effects of charismatic and transformational leadership (Bass 1985; Kanungo1990; Sashkin 1988; Tichy and Devanna 1990).
Burns was the first person introducing the concept of transforming leadership in his book Leadership. The version of transformational leadership theory was formulated later by Bass (Bass, 1985, 1996). He defined transformational leadership in terms of the leaders effect on followers by analyzing the behavior used in the process. The employees can be motivated by taking difficult objectives, and achieve beyond initial expectation.
This paper will have a thorough analysis on the Transformational Leadership theory. The first part will conduct a general description of the theory, followed by the review over the theory development in Part two. Part three and Part Four will be the conceptual and Empirical support for the transformational Leadership theory.
Transformational Leadership Theory
Traditional leadership theories emphasized rational processes; rather, theories of transformational and charismatic leadership emphasize more on emotions and values. James MacGregor Burns (1978) was the first author to contrast transforming and transactional leadership. Transformational leadership stresses achievement of higher collective purpose, of common mission and vision. Transformational leadership includes individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, charisma, and inspirational motivation. Transactional leadership includes contingent reward behavior and management by exceptions. Burns defined the concept of transforming leadership as,
a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents…occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality
He proposed that the transforming leaders motivate the followers to make them be able to achieve significant goals in the work, which finally lead to values promotion in both parties.
Under the theory of Burns, Bass developed more. He put Burns concept into one way process as transformational leadership where the leader transforms followers. It is different from the theory of Burns which indicate a two-way process that leaders and followers perform beyond expectations. Bass add the transformational style of leadership that Burns did not pay attention to. The leadership style incorporate social changes in the process of leaders performance which empirically more effective. According to Bass (Bass 1985, 1996; Avolio et al. 1995), transformational leaders motivate their followers by inspiring them, offering challenges, and encouraging individual development. Studies reviewed by Bass support that transformational and transactional leadership can be very distinctive. There is also evidence that transformational leadership is positively related to subordinate satisfaction, motivation, and performance (Lowe et al. 1996).
According to the research centre for leadership studies of University of Exeter (Bolden, R. et. al,2003), Bass transformational leaders may:
- expand a followers portfolio of needs
- transform a followers self-interest
- increase the confidence of followers
- elevate followers expectations
- heighten the value of the leaders intended outcomes for the follower
- encourage behavioral change
- motivate others to higher levels of personal achievement
Simply put forward, transformational leaders can
1) Increase subordinates awareness of well-performance of their tasks,
2) Increase subordinates awareness of needs for personal development, and goal-fulfillment.
3) Increase subordinates awareness of working in the spirit of making good for organization rather than focus on personal benefit.
On the contribution theory base of Burns and Bass, Tichy and Devanna (1986) built further on transformational leadership in organizational contexts. They described the nature of transformational as a behavioral process capable of being learned. And the characteristics of transformational leaders are indentified as courageous, trustworthy, value-driven, visionary, continuous learning, and able to deal with complexity.
To make the theory more operational, Bass and Avolio (1994) proposed five dimensions of transformational leadership, idealized behaviors, idealized motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration and idealized attitude. The detailed behaviors of the five dimensions are showed in Table.
2) Consider the moral consequences of decisions
4) Trust subordinates
2) Enthusiastic about job
3) Confident that goals will be achieved
4) Take a stand on controversial issues
2) look at problems from different angles
3) Suggest new ways to complete assignments
4) Encourage innovative thinking
2) Consider individuals different needs and abilities
3) Help to develop strengths
4) Promote self development
2) Act in ways that get respect from others
3) Display a sense of competence
4) Confident that obstacles will be overcome
The version of transformational leadership theory that has generated the most interest was contributed by Bass and his colleagues (Bass, 1985, 1996). Bass model of transformational leadership has been accepted by scholars and practitioners that organizations can encourage employees to perform beyond expectations. Despite a set of theory base in transformational leadership, concerns have been raised about the way in which the dimensions of the model have been defined (Avolio & Yammarino, 2002; Hunt & Conger, 1999; Shamir et al., 1993).
Yukl (1999) proposed that it was not clearly differentiated between transformational and charismatic leadership. The influence processes for transformational and transactional leadership are blurring, and have not been explored systematically. The identification of types of transformational leadership behaviors seems to be based mostly on a factor analysis; therefore the theoretical base for differentiating among the behaviors is not explained. While every type of transformational leadership behavior includes a lot of components, it makes the definition more ambiguous. Leadership is viewed as a key determinant of organizational effectiveness; however, the leader behaviors that ultimately influence organizational performance are seldom described in detail. The organizational processes have not received sufficient attention in mainstream theories of transformational leadership.
Moreover, stated by Yukl (1999), the theory provides insufficient identification of negative effects. It does not clearly identify any situation where transformational leadership is detrimental. However, some other researchers have noted that. For example, transformational leadership theory, putting more emphasis on the role of leadership to motivate employees, is biased at the expense of most of employees (Stephens et al., 1995). Porter and Bigley (1997) proposed that if members of an organization are influenced by different leaders with competing visions, the result will be increased role ambiguity and role conflict (Yukl, 1995). By establishing strong influence in the subunit, the leaders can achieve organizational goals more effectively, at the same time, arise competition among different subunits under different leaders. In that case, tasks that need cooperation among different unit will suffer. This is particularly harmful when inter-unit cooperation is necessary to achieve organizational objectives, and further result a decline in organizational effectiveness.
Empirical support for the transformational leadership model
The above issues concerning the weaknesses of Transformational leadership research meant that empirical research can provide evidence if necessary. Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) is the most used measure of transformational leadership research developed by Bass. By using MLQ, the data can provide mixed support for the differentiation of the components of the transformational model, which is the most controversy issue that has not achieved the general agreement.
From a wide range of settings, the positive effects of transformational leadership on several organizational outcomes have been proved. (Dumdum, Lowe, & Avolio, 2002; Judge & Piccolo, 2004; Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996) while conflicting evidence has been reported concerning the factor structure of the model, and very strong relationships have been reported among the leadership factors (Avolio et al., 1999). Interestingly, by using the MLQ-1, report found the five-factor model of transformational leadership (including charisma, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, contingent reward, and management-by-exception) was fit properly to the data, however, a two-factor model(active and passive leadership factor) was also fit properly to the data (Bycio et al. 1995). Avolio (1999) proposed several alternate conceptual models of the factor structure underlying the MLQ-5X.
Carless (1998) examined the MLQ-5X, and found that a hierarchical model (charisma, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation) representing facets of a second-order construct which called transformational leadership was fit well according to the data. Carless suggested that the MLQ-5X does not assess separate transformational leadership behaviors, but measures a single, hierarchical construct of transformational leadership (Alannah E. 2004).
Researchers are using a number of tactics instead when examining transformational leadership. Some researchers used a reduced set of items to measure transformational leadership model (e.g., Tejeda et al., 2001). This strategy has been driven by empirical results but fail to be explained by strong theoretical rationale. Other authors, such as Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, and Fetter (1990), have developed their own measures of transformational and transactional leadership. While these three approaches may all prove useful in some situations, we argue that it is important to adopt a theoretically driven approach when evaluating the subdimensions of transformational leadership. As a result, we re-examine the theoretical model developed by Bass (1985) to identify five subdimensions of transformational leadership that will demonstrate discriminant validity with each other and with outcomes.
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