Transactions and Transformational Leadership Theories: Reflective Journal Assessment Answer
Reflective Journal Assessment
Reflective Journal Assessment: Leadership Theories (Including Transactions and Transformational Leadership)
Leadership is one of the most important management aspects for modern organizations. The corporate world is full of examples where the vision and work ethics of a single individual helped in changing the fortunes of an organization. The leaders are important for an organization because they provide a strategic direction to the business (Lussier and Achua, 2012). Besides giving a strategic direction, the leaders facilitate utilization of resources in an effective manner. However, one of the biggest (and perhaps most crucial) roles of the leaders within the organization revolves around their ability to manage the followers in an effective manner (Winkler, 2010). This is why the importance of leadership styles is often underlines as an imperative part of management studies. Even though the theories of management could be felt easily in an organizational context, the leadership theories and traits of a leader could be identified in the people around us. In this assessment, two of the most important leadership theories: transactional and transformation leadership would be undertaken. The relative meaning, implication, application, and reflection of the leadership theories on the personal experience of the author would be carried out. For ensuring that the theoretical framework has a relative impact on the experiences of a reader would be assessed through a reflection report.
Can a leader demonstrate different leadership styles and follow different leadership theories based on the challenges and environment faced i.e. can a transformational leader act like a transactional leader or vice-versa
There are different leadership theories based on which the traits of a leader are described (Keller and Meaney, 2017). The most popular two theories are transactions and transformational leadership theories. Even though the two leadership styles are different from each other, a person could demonstrate these theories and traits at different situations (Dugan, 2016). On the other hand, there could be a leader who could choose to follow either one of these theories as part of the management of the employees and carry out the routine procedures in an effective manner. The argument here is to decide whether the leadership styles are fixed in nature or a single leader could have different leadership styles based on the theories. The impact of external situation on the leadership has been taken into consideration
With this into consideration, the first theory which was studied during the coursework was transactional leadership. As the name suggests, this theory is based on supervision, organization, and performance of the colleagues. The leader is the head of the decision-making and expects the employees and other followers to comply with the orders and suggestions. The leader could choose any form of motivation such as rewards or negative processes such as punishments in context of managing the processes and human resources within the organization. These factors (of rewards and punishments) help the leader in motivating the workers for a short period. This leadership theory is extremely popular in cases when the employees lack a strategic direction for their careers. When the employees do not have the skills and lack the general aspiration to grow, it becomes imperative that the leaders should take the charge and tell them to achieve the objectives.
This leadership style is largely based on McGregor’s Theory X which suggest that the workers generally postpone work and try to ensure that the work is avoided (Humphrey, 2013). This leadership style is often necessary in critical situations when the work has to be done in a given deadline in any manner. When the employees lack a certain sense of ownership about the work processes, having a transactional leader is very crucial. The leaders are hardly concerned about the future but are largely concentrated on how the given current challenge would be addressed in the given setup. When the work processes (especially in projects) is to be carried out in a certain manner, it is imperative that the leaders would just want the works to be completed without any delays in the deadlines. The leader does not want to try anything new as the existing processes are working fine for attaining the business objectives (Harrison, 2017). It is a perfect example of management by exception whereby the leader tries to maintain status quo (Van Wart and Suino, 2015).
On the other hand, the second popular leadership theory is transformational leadership. In the hindsight, the concept of transformational leadership is contrary to the transactional leadership theory. The transformational leaders take charge of the situation whilst keeping in view of the future challenges which the organization might face (Nye, 2013). The process starts with aligning the processes of a leader with the organizational goals (Van Wart and Suino, 2015). The overall role of the transformational leaders is literally to transform the followers. It is done by enhancing the motivation levels, morale levels, and overall job satisfaction by stimulating the performance in the most effective manner. The transformational leaders do not believe in dictating the terms before the followers (Ray, 2012). They rather take the outlook of the followers in overall decision-making process. The leader tries to motivate the followers by acting as a role model and inspire the interest in the project (Kotter, 2014).
This kind of leadership is applicable in areas where the people do have a substantial amount of ownership and interest in the work (Northouse, 2010). Whilst managing a team of people who are raring to go and have significant experience and skills, this type of leadership rather helps in channelizing the efforts of the employees. Contrary to the transactional leadership which took consideration of short-term reward factors such as incentives or punishments, the transformational leadership help in ensuring that a person is intrinsically motivated to work as per his full potential (Schyns and Meindl, 2005). In cases when the leader knows that coercion or influence-based behaviour would rather not work, this particular type of leadership process could be very helpful in ensuring long-term goals achievements. This type of leaders are proactive and work with a view to change the organizational processes.
The theoretical aspects in context of leadership processes as adopted by the leaders in different situations had been illustrated in course of the assessment. The ways and situations where transactional leadership processes are adopted have been provided. However, this could be very well linked to the traits of a leader. For instance, a leader could be fundamentally transactional and would try to impose such behaviour in situations which do not even require such leadership trait or behaviour. On the other hand, a transformational leader would also try to have such a trait whilst taking the decisions in context of the organization. However, it is imperative that the situations are analysed before the decision is undertaken in the long-term. The leader cannot have the same traits or behaviour for different situations or types of individuals they are dealing with. There is no good or bad theory of leadership when the comparison between transactional and transformational processes is undertaken. It is all about the external situations and how effectively the leader is able to manage the situations.
The recommendations in this assessment would be to take consideration of the leadership theories and apply the same in the working conditions. The reflection report part would help in elaboration of the situations when an individual is faced with dilemma as the leadership styles have to be changed. The management of individuals and leadership as a process should aim for flexibility as the virtue. An individual should not be rigid in the approach. The same person could be transformational whilst dealing with the long-term objectives of the organization and could be transactional whilst dealing with the blue collar employees who are working on an urgent project. It all depends on the priorities of the organization and how efficiently they are managed by the leaders.
I always found the organizational behaviour a very fascinating discipline. The autobiographies and biographies of the great leaders in the organizations have always motivated me to do well in my personal life. I have always tried to ensure that the things done differently by the leaders should be examined and carefully implemented in the professional development of an individual. For the purpose of this report, I went through the Bloom’s Taxonomy and realized what exactly the teachers in the classroom referred when they talked about the importance of relating the theories with the real life examples. As per the taxonomy, the cognitive domain is a knowledge based process whereby the learners need to enhance the understanding by applying the theories into real life scenario and synthesize the results for an overall evaluation of whether the theories made any sense or not (Gershon, 2015).
As I have already illustrated, leadership studies and assessment of theories often excited me as a professional. When I looked around me, I found people having similar traits which have been described in the theories of leadership. For example, during a summer job (when I had worked for a couple of months as a junior data entry clerk in an organization), I remember my encounter with two different types of leaders who certainly portray the transformational and transactional leadership processes.
I worked with an individual who took account of the administrative staffs of the company. He would supervise the housekeeping, peons, and other office assistants. He would shout out the orders, was very strict in the behaviour and I seldom saw him smiling on anything. Since I was pretty young, I asked myself about the reason for such a behaviour. He did not care what the organizational objectives were. He would not even know what the organization did (it was a hedge fund management company). He was just concerned about the coffee machines working properly, the toilets being cleaned properly and overall arrangements of the office to be up to date. I once jokingly asked him to smile more. He told me that the people with whom he worked do not let him to relax and hence he is always on the toes.
After studying the leadership theories, I realized that he was a transactional leader who just cared about the work to be completed in a given manner. He did not care about the long-term futuristic vision of the organization, as the traits of transactional leader are determined (Nevarez, Penrose and Padrón, 2015). I give this whole incident a little thought now and realize that the kind of job which he was allocated required similar leadership style. It would have been rather unwise of him to think in a transformational manner when the work had to be completed in the given deadlines and that the jobs did not require any special skills. There was no point that the leader discussed anything with the subordinates as it would have meant that the decision-making process would have been delayed unnecessarily. However, I had seen the same person talking in details about the long-term organizational goals during the management meeting, thereby showing that he has transformational traits.
On the other hand, the CEO of the company was a calm and composed individual who believed in taking the decision with the consent of the employees. One of the key qualities that he had was the fact that he even noticed me working late at a couple of instances and complemented me at a number of occasions. Even though I was interning, the CEO ensured that I was in some key meetings related with my department. He would thank everyone personally for their time. I often talked with my colleagues and they told me that one of the key reasons that the organization has been able to achieve the targets much before the specific deadlines is due to the vision of the CEO. The CEO never talked about the present issues in details but tried to introduce processes by which the future of the organization could be improved.
However, there was an incident where the CEO was working closely with the senior manager to prepare a report which he had to submit before the board of directors. It was an interim internal audit report and was largely a repetition of what the report was during the previous year. Since the manager was away for a couple of days due to medical emergency, the CEO was tensed and wanted to get the work done as quickly as possible. This was the time when I saw him losing cool and directing the employees to do the job as quickly as possible. This was a classic example when a transformational leader turned into a transactional leader due to the requirements of the external environment. This incident helped me in understanding that a good leader does not follow the same theory or trait and the behaviour could change considerably based on the targets and external environment challenges he is facing in the scenario