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Transformational corporate leaders


Leadership is a practice that has been around for very many years though there has been no single definition to completely describe it. This could be due to its continuously evolving nature and variations depending on context. Leadership is generally a complicated concept that can be applied in many areas while the results that it creates are highly dependent on the context in which it’s being applied. The term ‘transformational leaders’ was first formed by J.V. Downton in 1973. During his study of political leadership, James Macgregor introduced for the first time the concept of transformational leadership. According to Macgregor, transformational leadership is a not just a set of specific behaviours but a continuous process through which leaders and followers uplift one another to high states of motivation and morality (The transformational leadership report 2007).

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Transformational leaders provide a purpose that goes beyond the short term goals looks at the higher order intrinsic objectives. These leaders will always raise the bar by engaging to higher ideals and values of their subordinates. This way, the leaders are able to model the values themselves as well as use appealing methods to lure people to the values and to the leaders themselves. Transformational leadership requires high level of self actualization and self esteem in order to be an authetic and transformational leader. Essentially the work of a transformational leader is to induce people to be conscious of their feelings, to feel their true needs strongly and to meaningfully define their values so that they can be moved to a determined action (Chance & Chance 2002 p.79)

Macgregor was among the first scholars to insist that true transformational leadership does not just create change and attain goals within an organization but also changes the individuals involved and makes both the leaders and followers to be ennobled. According to () transformational leadership is also defined in terms of how the leader impacts his subordinates who are in turn supposed to respect, admire and trust the transformational leader. Transformational leadership has evolved from elements of preceding types for instance behavior and trait theories, situational, charismatic and transactional leadership. Transformational leaders are actually natural leaders. They automatically take charge of group of workers with great confidence and authority and they motivate their followers to do things with ease. Such leaders who are admired and envied for their natural qualities in leadership skills are actually born with leadership qualities in them.

Astrologists argue that qualities of leadership are given at birth. For instance they believe that individuals born under the Aries zodiac sign are usually natural leaders and will always find themselves in leadership positions as adults. According to ( ), its not doubtable that certain people are born with natural characteristics and traits that make it easier for them to inspire and have power over others. Some people are born with natural confidence which is an advantageous characteristic for leaders. Such people are therefore more attractive for their determination and drive which creates an impetus that other people find easy to follow. Those people with proper communication skills and empathy which are generally admired by people, and the ability to relate well with people even in stressful situations, attract a sense of respect and liking from other people.

This paper evaluates the characteristics of transformational leaders and how they are made. The paper tries to illustrate that transformational corporate leaders are actually born and not made.

Theories and models of transformational leadership

According to Gosling, Marturano & Dennison (2003), transformational leadership is procedure in which organizational leaders take actions to enhance the awareness of their associates on what is right and crucial (p.16). These leaders raise the motivational maturity of their followers which makes them to go beyond their own individual interests for the betterment of their group as well as the whole organization. Transformational leaders provide their followers with a feeling of purpose that exceeds a simple receiving of rewards for their efforts. Transformational leaders are unique leaders whose leadership qualities are believed to be natural. These leaders not only optimize the general performance of their associates but also the development of an organization. Organizational or business development involves the maturation of values, ability, attitudes and motivation (Gosling, Marturano & Dennison 2003 p.16). Transformational leaders are aimed at developing the maturity level of their followers needs from the basic security needs to the needs of self development.


A number of recent theories on leadership have tried to describe leadership effectiveness according to how leaders transform or change an organization (Chance & Chance 2002 p.94). One of the theories in leadership is the transformational leadership theory also known as the leadership theory. This theory states that leadership is interlinked or can not be separated from the needs and goals of the followers, and that it’s as a result of interaction between the followers and the leaders. According to Chance & Chance (2002), there are two important forms of leader follower interaction which are transformational and transactional (p.94). In transactional relationship the leader influences the follower through an exchange of something valued by both of them. Transformational theory assumes that the main focus of leadership should be the capacities and commitments of organizational individuals. Their should also be higher level of individual dedication to organisational objectives and greater capacities for fulfilling these objectives. According to Bush T. (2003), transformational leaders succeed by acquiring the followers’ commitment to such degree that the higher levels of accomplishment become a moral imperative (p.77).

The transformational model is for instance broad in that it gives normative approach to school leadership which aims basically on the process by which leaders endeavour to manipulate the school outcome and not the nature of those outcomes (Bush T. 2003 p.77). Transformational leadership has the capability of becoming autocratic because of its well-built heroic and charismatic features. According to Chance & Chance (2002), transformational leadership stimulates others to look at their work from new dimensions while creating the awareness of the mission and vision of the organization (p.95). Transformational leaders stimulate others to be creative and innovative. This creativity and innovation is promoted through looking for new ideas from others. These leaders attend the needs of their followers and help them in growth and development by acting as their mentors. The underlying principle of these leaders is their commitment to personal values and moral purpose which are important in bringing about organizational change.

Models in leadership

Models on leadership assist us to understand what makes leaders to operate the way they do. The different types of behaviours discussed in models help us to understand that every situation calls for a specific approach. One of the models is the four framework approach where leaders illustrate behaviours in leadership in one of the four types of frame works. These frame works are the structural, political, human resource or symbolic. The leadership style can either be effective or not depending on the behavior chosen in certain situations. In a working leadership situation the leader is usually a social architect whose style of leadership is analysis and design. On the other hand leaders in failing leadership are just tyrants whose styles of leadership consist of mere details. Structural leaders put more emphasis on strategy, structure, environment, experimentation, implementation and adaptation.

In the human resource framework, the leader in the effective leadership conditions is a catalyst and servant whose style of leadership is support, empowerment and advocation, while in a non working leadership the boss is a pushover whose style of leadership is fraud and abdication. Human resource leaders hold believe in people and they communicate that believe. They are accessible and encourage increased participation and sharing of information. These leaders involve everybody in the organization when it comes to decision making. For a political framework the leader in effective leadership circumstances is an advocate whose style of leadership is a coalition and building while in the ineffective condition the leader is a hustler whose style of leadership is manipulation. Political leaders indicate clearly what they can get and build relationship with other stake holders. They first apply persuasion then coercion and negotiation only if necessary.

In symbolic framework, the leader in working leadership is a prophet whose style of leadership is inspiration while the leader in a non performing situation a fool whose style of leadership is smoke and mirrors.

The other model in used in leadership is the managerial grid. This model uses two axes whereby ‘concern for people’ is plotted using the vertical axis while the ‘concern for task’ is plotted on the horizontal axis. The managerial behaviour is then described using the two dimensions that are drawn as a graph. Both axis’s are plotted on a range of 0 to 9 and the leaders are then grouped depending on what they score on both sides. Those who score 9 points on the task side and 1 on the people side are authoritarian, those who score 9 on both sides are team leaders, those who score 1 on both sides are impoverished while those who score 1 on task and 9 on people are country club leaders.

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Authoritarian leader are more task oriented and are tough on their employees. These leaders are very tough on schedules and expect the workers to do everything without question. Team leaders lead by good examples and are concerned in promoting a team environment. They encourage their followers to attain their goals effectively and to strengthen the bonds between employees. On the other hand the country club leaders mainly use the power of reward and recognition in maintaining discipline among their employees while the impoverished leader uses delegation of duties as a management style (Chance & Chance 2002). These leaders are neither concerned with maintenance or task accomplishment.


Bass B. M. & Riggio R. E. (2006) Transformational leadership London: Routledge.

Hacker, S, & Roberts, T (2003) Transformational leadership: creating organizations of meaning American Society for Quality.

Avolio B. J & Bass B. M. 2002 Developing potential across a full range of leadership: cases on transactional and transformational leadership Routledge: New York.

Gosling, R .B, Marturano, A & Dennison, P. (2003) A review of the leadership theory and competency frameworks. Centre for leadership studies: Dunsford Hill.

Schwartz M. K. , Gimbel K. G. 2000 Leadership resources: a guide to training and development tools Center for Creative Leadership.

Chance, P. L. & Chance, E. W (2002) Introduction to educational leadership & organizational behavior: theory into practice Eye on Education.

Bush T. 2003 Theories of educational leadership and management SAGE.

The transformational leadership report (2007) (http://www.transformationalleadership.net/products/TransformationalLeadershipReport.pdf)

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