Transformational Leadership

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James MacGregor Burns has defined leadership as “leaders inducing the followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations – the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations – of both leaders and followers” (Burns 1978. p.19.)

The concept of leadership as a whole encompasses different explanations, theories and leadership styles and has been popular not only from the organizational perspective but in the educational and political context as well. This essay aims to address the key concepts of Transformational leadership which belongs to the more recent approach taken towards leadership.

From around the mid-19th century, social scientists have been engaged in understanding and developing the nature of leadership in social evolution. This has led to the development of various theories and approaches to leadership. The early approach to leadership began with the Great man theories and has gradually led to the formation of the ‘New Leadership Approach’ (Bryman 1992) which included ‘visionary’ (Sashkin 1998) , ‘charismatic’ (Conger 1989; Conger and Kanungo,1988; House 1977) or ‘Transformational models’ (Bass 1985; Tichy & Devanna,1986). While the early approaches to leadership focused on the traits of the leader the subsequent approaches gave more importance to additional variables such as skill level and the situational factors ( google- dads link)

Review of Literature

Max Weber’s (1947) approach to leadership was based on charisma and it was based on his approach that James MacGregor Burns proposed the theory of Transformational Leadership.

In his book titled Leadership (1978), Bur...

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...t of the early research on Transformational leadership Theory originated from studies that were conducted in the United States. Therefore there was a need to develop a UK version in order to address some of the problems of generalizability and to most importantly, determine whether the dimensions of Transformational Leadership that have emerged in the North American studies were similar to those found in the UK. (Alimo- Metcalfe & Alban –Metcalfe, 2001)

What must be taken into account is the fact that Leadership as a part of the “New Paradigm Model’ has been viewed as a process of “Social Influence” (Bass 1998a, b; Bryman 1992).

The main objective in developing and designing a UK instrument was to create one that is of practical value to managers at all levels (Alban-Metcalfe & Alimo-Metcalfe,2000)


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