The Notion of Transformational Leadership  Term Paper

  • Length: 12 pages
  • Sources: 15
  • Subject: Leadership
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #34090792

Excerpt from Term Paper :

While the case study approach would have allowed
Gubman to interview employees on their degree of loyalty, one is left to
wonder whether a few selective interviews, which would be in line with the
case study format, would allow Gubman to make any generalizations about a
company with thousands of employees, like Motorola.
Stephen Denning (2005) also attempts to measure the effects of
transformational leadership through a case study approach of IBM's e-
business strategy in the 1990s. Denning demonstrates how the idea of
Internet business actually originated from a low-level IBM engineer, who
was able to get access to and convince corporate leadership, including CEO
Lou Gerstner. Company management eventually supported the idea and launched
what became a multi-billion-dollar business unit.
Denning (2005) is able to demonstrate various components of
transformational leadership in his research. For example, he demonstrates a
vision that originated from employees and was eventually disseminated by
management -- a practice encouraged by Burns and Bass. The vision was
developed around the value of IBM being an innovation leader that was
responsive to employee ideas and customers' changing needs. Denning further
demonstrates that the IBM corporate culture allowed the engineer, and those
who supported him, to take risks in support of IBM's strategic vision,
which clearly led to amazing results. But Denning's research, like
Gubman's, struggles to measure the role that employee loyalty played in
IBM's eventual success. Did IBM employees embrace e-business because
Gerstner sold them on the vision and the values, or simply because they
were told what to do? Until we can measure loyalty and the source of that
loyalty, we can't fully assess whether leaders are succeeding through
charisma and transformational abilities, or because of a more traditional
power structure where employees follow the leader simply because of
tradition or because they are paid to do so.
While IBM was already a powerful company before transformational
leadership helped create its e-business initiative, Marvin O'Quinn and
Kimberly Comer Mulqueen (2007) present a case study of an organization that
was facing financial ruin before using transformational strategies to stage
a turnaround. The Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County posted an $85
million loss in 2004 before the CEO used transformational leadership to
help all company employees focus on financial improvement without
sacrificing patient care. The vision was spelled out to employees through a
program called "reCreate Jackson," and although the program goals were
largely driven by financial considerations, organizational leadership was
able to tap into employee values by focusing on workplace pride and the
importance of each individual employee to Jackson's mission.
O'Quinn and Mulqueen (2007) also demonstrate how Jackson management
created a supportive environment by organizing collaborative workplace
teams that could suggest improvements and manage projects. By involving all
employees in the turnaround process, management hoped to secure employee
buy-in and loyalty to the plan. While the results were impressive --
Jackson posted a $10 million surplus the following year - O'Quinn and
Mulqueen are unable to provide beyond a surface, anecdotal level any
indication of how employees felt about Jackson management and to what
degree their values aligned with management's. There was a clear attempt to
develop employee loyalty using methods associated with transformational
leadership, but the case study is unable to probe in a meaningful way how
the employees felt as a group.
In fact, the tendency to focus on the actions of management and the
eventual results of management initiatives is common in case studies of
transformational leadership. It is a flaw in other studies, such as Eddie
Corbin's (2005) case study of transformational leadership in West Indies
cricket and Paul Joyce's (2004) analysis of the turnaround of a public
authority in Britain. Quite simply, it is easier for case studies to focus
on a limited group, such as managers, than a larger group, such as
employees, particularly when organizations have a significant number of
workers. But transformational leadership depends a great deal on employee
perception and why employees follow managers. Therefore, meaningful
measurement of employee attitudes, beyond a few interviews, is critical for
assessing the impact, or existence, of transformational leadership in an

Quantitative studies
A number of quantitative studies have been conducted to assess the
presence and effectiveness of transformational leadership at organizations.
These studies often use random samples of employees and managers, and
statistical analysis techniques that range from simple averages to
regressions, ANOVA, chi squares and more. While this offers some advantages
over case study research, there are some significant drawbacks as well.
Quantitative research, which allows researchers to survey several
subjects and analyze the results, arguably can provide a more thorough look
at employee perceptions in transformational environments than case studies.
For example, a quantitative study by Charles R. Emery and Katherine J.
Barker (2007) looked at the effects of both transactional and
transformational leadership techniques on customer contact personnel. Emery
and Barker surveyed nearly 300 bank tellers and approximately 100 food-
store workers on issues such as job satisfaction, and performed a
correlation analysis on the data. The study was valuable because it
quantified the importance of transformational leadership from the
employees' perspective. For example, there was a high correlation between
employees who were satisfied at their jobs and employees who said their
managers were charismatic and that their jobs offered intellectual
stimulation and individual consideration, which are components of the Burns
and Bass models of transformational leadership.
The fact that other components of transformational leadership, such as
whether employees identified with the management vision and whether work
environments facilitated support and collaboration, were omitted by Emery
and Barker (2007) indicates a weakness of the quantitative method. Quite
simply, researchers can only answer what they ask. The quantitative method
is more rigid than the case study approach, which allows for open-ended
questions and interviews where subjects may reveal information the
researchers had not considered.
While components of transformational leadership, such as vision, can
be difficult to quantify, researchers have made interesting and somewhat
successful attempts. Research by Naresh Khatri, (1999) investigated
how employees view and respond to vision and charisma from their leaders.
Khatri, surveyed 455 employees at 10 different organizations in
Singapore and performed multiple regression and factor analysis on the
data. The research showed that leaders who connected with employee values
were often widely respected, and were assigned other positive traits, such
as being "expert" or "analytical." Interesting enough, the research by
Khatri, showed that transformational leadership is not always
occurring, despite what managers may believe. For example, respondents
indicated that they viewed charisma and vision very differently, and that
they did not always consider charismatic leaders as competent, nor did they
always believe that visionary leaders connected with employees effectively.
In short, the research by Khatri quantified how critical employee
buy-in is to the existence of genuine transformational leadership in a
workplace. Simply because a leader may be implementing some of the tenets
of transformational leadership, such as charisma and vision, does not mean
the employees are coming along for the ride. It is easy to see how a case
study that looked at only the leader's perspective could conclude that
transformational leadership was occurring, when really it was not.
Research by Ruey-Gwo Chung and Chieh-Ling Lo (2007) also demonstrated
the need to consider employee perception when analyzing transformational
leadership, and how organizations can appear very differently to outside
observers. Chung and Lo surveyed 77 employees and volunteers from non-
profit organizations, using Bass' Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. The
study found that employees trended toward rating their organizations as low
transformational, while volunteers, who may not be exposed to the
organizations on a daily basis, rated them as high transformational. It is
easy to imagine how a case study researcher could make the same type of
Interesting enough, Chung and Lo (2007) discovered that employees
were more likely to regard female leaders as transformational, and male
leaders as transactional. Employees also assigned a higher level of
reliability to leaders that used transformational techniques. The weakness
of the Chung and Lo research is that it was unable to provide information
on how vision was communicated and adopted by employees, and how specific
value appeal and support systems facilitated buy-in. Again, the downfall of
quantitative studies is that they can only provide insight on the questions
that were asked in the survey instrument. The facts that Chung and Lo
missed would very likely be included in a case study analysis where
observation was used.

Ultimately, when it comes to assessing transformational leadership
and its effect on organizations, case studies and quantitative research
both have their pros and cons. Case studies are advantageous because the
researchers often become observers, which allows them to gather information
and learn things through open-ended inquiry that they may not have
considered when first undertaking their studies. The disadvantage of case
studies is that they often focus on the management perspective in a single

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