According to the Ohio State University (2004), both could be equally appropriate in terms of overall company outcomes, as they are very similar in terms of valuing and inspiring follower excellence.
When considering the motivation towards leadership for each type of leader, the contrast is sharper. The servant leader, for example, leads from a motivations basis of egalitarianism. The leader's fundamental belief is that he or she is no better than followers. The company's collective goals are then reached by means of an egalitarian team effort, where both leader and followers learn from the experience. Servant leaders are therefore much more focused upon the non-traditional form of leadership, which exists in beign servants themselves (Patterson, Redmer and Stone, 2003, p. 6). Followers are provided with a large amount of freedom to exercise the abilities they can bring to the promotion of the business goals. This means that a very high degree of trust is placed in followers.
The transformational leader, on the other hand, is motivated by the drive to recreate the organization in response to external environmental challenges. While trust is also fundamentally entailed in the transformational leaders' relationship with his or her followers, the fundamental difference between the two theories is focus. Transformational leadership focuses on achieving the goals of the company, rather than generally only the development of followers so that they can achieve company goals by association (Ohio State University, 2004).
Patterson, Redmer and Stone (2003, p.6) also note that the main distinction between the theories is in their focus. Transformational leaders use organizational goals and objectives to focus their relationship with followers. The primary goal is to improve the organization's operations and function. Hence, there is also a greater focus upon inspiring followers to become innovators for the purpose of developing the company.
The more personal focus of servant leaders, on the other hand, directs followers to become servants of each other and the company themselves. However, the focus here is more generally upon personal development than upon specific strategies to move the company forward in terms of its external structure.
In short, the main contrast of the two leadership paradigms is that transformational leadership tends to focus towards the external environment, while servant leadership is more focused towards internal fortification for the company's employees.
According to the Ohio State University (2004), transformational leadership is more appropriate for a business that functions within a dynamic external environment. Here, innovation, initiative and risk are important components to encourage in followers. To achieve this, the leader must be able to synthesize the development of his or her employees with the apparent requirements of the business environment.
Servant leadership is a more static response to the external environment, where the focus is the ability of followers to develop as elements of the internal environment. This type of leadership style is more appropriate for a static external environment.
The University (2004) also emphasizes that varying leadership styles is the best approach towards extending the life cycle of the company. In this, a situational type of paradigm is suggested, where leadership style is adopted as the situation dictates. Transformational and servant leadership mainly differ in terms of their focus. The central value of both consists in the cultivation of effective relationships between the leader and his or her followers. The purpose and focus of this relationship differ according to the leadership style involved, as seen above.
Hence, both leadership styles will be able to exist within the same company where leaders are concerned to responding to environmental factors. Transformational leadership might be more appropriate, for example, where the company is young and innovation and differentiation are of primary importance. A more established company functioning within a volatile external environment would also dictate a transformational leadership focus. An established company within a static environment, on the other hand, can strengthen its internal structure by means of servant leadership.
Transformational and servant leadership are sufficiently similar to be able to function seamlessly within the same company. It is part of the leader's function to make decisions regarding which would be best for a particular situation. Both leadership styles can complement each other in terms of optimizing a company's function within the external environment, while also creating an internal situation where employees are provided with the responsibility that is appropriate to each position. Today, it is vital for leaders to understand that the human beings with whom they work have personal and professional ambitions and demands. These are best met by the latest leadership styles, even while also focusing on reaching the professional goals of the company.
Bugenhage, M.J. (2006, Dec). Antecedents of Transactional Transformational, and Servant Leadership: A constructive-Development Theory Approach. University of Nebraska. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=aglecdiss
The Ohio State University. (2004, Dec. 22). Transformational and Servant Leadership: Content and Contextual Comparisons. Leadership Center. Retrieved from: http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu/library/publications/leadership-discoveries/2004/december-2004-transformational-and-servant-leadership-content-and-contextual-comparisons
Patterson, K., Redmer, T.A.O., and Stone, a.G. (2003, Oct.) Transformational Leaders to Servant Leaders vs. Level 4 Leaders to Level 5 Leaders -- the Move from Good to Great. Regent University. Retrieved from: http://www.cbfa.org/Patterson.pdf
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Spears, L.C. (2005, Aug.) the Understanding and Practice of Servant Leadership. Servant Leadership Research Roundtable. Retrieved from: http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/sl_proceedings/2005/spears_practice.pdf
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