Leadership Style and Characteristics Affect Term Paper

  • Length: 20 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Leadership
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #5512954

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Furthermore, there are a number of similarities and overlaps between such leadership theories that do not prevent their being characterized as transformational in nature. For example, "Most leaders behave in both transactional and transformational ways in different intensities and amounts; this is not an entirely either-or differentiation" (Miner, 2002 p. 743).

One of the more interesting issues to emerge from the research is the need for transformational leaders to teach what they know to others. Certainly, it would be reasonable to assume that most leaders got where they are by virtue of some innate skill or ability within an organization, and while it would likely be easier - and faster -- for them to simply do some things themselves, teaching others how to become effective leaders in their own right is a fundamental responsibility and effective leaders and serves to differentiate a truly transformational leader from others leadership styles: "True transformational leaders raise the level of moral maturity of those whom they lead. They convert their followers into leaders. They broaden and enlarge the interests of those whom they lead. They motivate their associates, colleagues, followers, clients, and even their bosses to go beyond their individual self-interests for the good of the group, organization, or society" (Avolio & Bass, 2002, p. 2). Beyond these distinctions, there is also a clear emphasis on how transformational leaders pay close attention to their follower's needs as well: "Transformational leaders address each follower's sense of self-worth in order to engage the follower in true commitment and involvement in the effort at hand" (Avolio & Bass, 2002, p. 2).

Furthermore, while many believe that some leaders are born and others are made, there is some indication in the research that people can become transformational leaders - or assume some of these virtues - if the situation calls for this type of leadership style. In this regard, Burns (1978) suggests that transformational leadership takes place when a leader engages with a follower in such a way that both parties are raised to higher levels of motivation and morality with a common purpose. These heightened levels of motivation among followers toward an increased level of performance were also explained by the concepts evaluated by Shamir, House, & Arthur (1993) wherein they maintained that one of the main reasons transformational or charismatic leaders can increase followers' motivation to perform beyond initial expectations is that followers accept and internalize a vision articulated by their leaders. Likewise, Bass (1985) conceptualized transformational leadership as being the type of leadership that is able to raise levels of awareness about the importance and value of designated outcomes and promotes development and vision in subordinates. According to Maher (1997), transformational leaders tend to exhibit charisma, use symbols to focus employee efforts, encourage followers to question their own way of doing things, and treat followers differently but equitably based on their followers' needs.

Factor studies have identified a number of characteristics that transformational leaders share in common. According to Bass (1998), transformational leadership has four components. For example, Bass (1998) reports that, "Transformational leaders do more with colleagues and followers than set up simple exchanges or agreements. They behave in ways to achieve superior results by employing one or more of the four components of transformational leadership" (p. 5). A description of the four transformational leadership characteristics is provided in Table 1 below.

Table 1.

Characteristics of Transformational Leaders.



Charismatic Leadership

Leadership is charismatic such that the follower seeks to identify with the leaders and emulate them. Transformational leaders behave in ways that result in their being role models for their followers. The leaders are admired, respected, and trusted. Followers identify with the leaders and want to emulate them; leaders are endowed by their followers as having extraordinary capabilities, persistence, and determination. The leaders are willing to take risks and are consistent rather than arbitrary. They can be counted on to do the right thing, demonstrating high standards of ethical and moral conduct.

Inspirational Motivation

The leadership inspires the follower with challenge and persuasion providing a meaning and understanding. Transformational leaders behave in ways that motivate and inspire those around them by providing meaning and challenge to their followers' work. Team spirit is aroused. Enthusiasm and optimism are displayed. Leaders get followers involved in envisioning attractive future states; they create clearly communicated expectations that followers want to meet and also demonstrate commitment to goals and the shared vision. Charismatic leadership and inspirational motivation usually form a combined single factor of charismatic-inspirational leadership.

Intellectual Stimulation

The leadership is intellectually stimulating, expanding the follower's use of their abilities. Transformational leaders stimulate their followers' efforts to be innovative and creative by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways. Creativity is encouraged. There is no public criticism of individual members' mistakes. New ideas and creative problem solutions are solicited from followers, who are included in the process of addressing problems and finding solutions. Followers are encouraged to try new approaches, and their ideas are not criticized because they differ from the leaders' ideas.

Individualized Consideration

Transformational leadership is individually considerate, providing the follower with support, mentoring, and coaching. Transformational leaders pay special attention to each individual follower's needs for achievement and growth by acting as coach or mentor. Followers and colleagues are developed to successively higher levels of potential. Individualized consideration is practiced when new learning opportunities are created along with a supportive climate. Individual differences in terms of needs and desires are recognized. The leader's behavior demonstrates acceptance of individual differences (e.g., some employees receive more encouragement, some more autonomy, others firmer standards, and still others more task structure). A two-way exchange in communication is encouraged, and "management by walking around" work spaces is practiced. Interactions with followers are personalized (e.g., the leader remembers previous conversations, is aware of individual concerns, and sees the individual as a whole person rather than as just an employee). The individually considerate leader listens effectively. The leader delegates tasks as a means of developing followers. Delegated tasks are monitored to see if the followers need additional direction or support and to assess progress; ideally, followers do not feel they are being checked on Source: Bass, 1998, pp. 4-5.

All of these types of behaviors have been identified to some extent in the extant creativity literature as being essential ingredients to promoting creativity in the workplace (Sosik, 1998). In fact, this author emphasizes that, "Transformational leadership also is expected to be positively associated with creativity because of individualized consideration promoted by a transformational leader. By encouraging consideration and recognition of each group member's viewpoint and ideas, individualized consideration leads to an expanded source of knowledge and information for group members to use in solving problems" (Sosik, 1998, p. 113).

As noted throughout the scholarly literature on leadership, the terms "charismatic" and "transformational" are usually applied in a synonymous fashion; however, as Storey (2004) points out, it is possible to differentiate a truly charismatic leader from a transformational leader by applying six specific elements that concern charismatic leaders only:

Charismatic leaders are heroic figures (usually with attributed past success stories);

Charismatic leaders are mystics in touch with higher truths;

Charismatic leaders are value-driven individual rather than being apparently purely self-serving;

Charismatic leaders are people that are perceived to "know the way";

Charismatic leaders are people that have a vision of a more desirable and achievable future; and,

Charismatic leaders are people believed to be capable of caring for and developing followers (Storey, 2004).

This author also emphasizes that, "It is evident from all six points that they reflect attributes of personality and behavior. The construct of the 'transformational leader,' on the other hand, although closely related in many ways, is distinct in that it refers to an approach to leading which aspires to significant organizational change through engaged and committed followers" (Storey, 2004, p. 27). The leadership component that best reflects the concepts involved in a transformational leadership setting is that of "inspirational motivation," which is a concept that is clearly focused on effecting change of some sort - even if it is wrong: "It holds forth the idea of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things through the influence of the leader. This kind of leader reduces complexity, doubt, cynicism and ambiguity by cutting through to the 'essential' elements, and these are expressed in simple, readily understandable language. Moreover, these simple truths are expressed with conviction" (Storey, 2004, p. 28).

Transformational leaders, then, are able to communicate the desirability and achievability of their goals and visions, and followers "buy in" to such future eventualities and are willing to invest the time and energy required to get there. In the final analysis, while there are clear similarities between the concepts of charismatic leaders and transformational leaders, there are some important distinctions as well. For example, as Miner (2002) reports, "Charismatic and transformational processes are closely related, but a person can be…

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