Transformational Leadership and Transactional Leadership Essay

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Transactional Leadership and Transformational Leadership

Transactional leadership style is a leadership style that uses group performance, organization, and supervision to get results. It is also called managerial leadership. This leadership style is focused on getting specific tasks done and the leader may use punishments and rewards as motivational tools. A good structure is highly valued in such a scenario as is highly apparent in situations such as the military and big companies where the leadership style is widely used (Cherry, 2018).

Transactional leadership is not an optimal leadership style where innovation and creativity are highly required. Nonetheless, in environments where the completion of tasks requires specific linear processes, a transactional leader is likely to excel. The leadership style is therefore very useful for large big organizations with well-defined processes. The military, policing, and sports franchises also have leaders with transactional leadership qualities (Cherry, 2018).

A great example of a transactional leader is Bill Gates. Bill Gates is a well known American businessman who was born in 1955. He founded Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen in 1978. Microsoft grew fast and grossed $2.5 million dollars 3 years after it was founded. At this time, Bill Gates was only 23 years old. The company went on to launch Windows in 1985. Windows became a transformational product in the computing world and brought Bill Gates and Microsoft’s other shareholders tremendous wealth. The success of Windows can be attributed to Bill Gate’s ability to successfully execute a transactional leadership style. He would supervise product teams by visiting their stations and would ask very specific questions that ensured that the teams always knew the exact results the company required them to produce and that they were always on track (Cherry, 2018).

Transformational leadership as a concept was formally introduced in 1978 by James McGregor Burns in a book titled ‘Leadership’. Transformational leadership has existed for the entirety of human history. However small the teams they lead were, past transformational leaders helped create solutions that helped man overcome some of the challenges he was facing at the time. In the current work environment, transformational leaders help their teams define their challenges, identify the resources they need and the resources available, inspire visions, and motivate their team members to perform at their best. This process also helps their team members grow as people as well as in their skill-sets (Burns, 1978).

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A great example of someone who executed transformational leadership well is Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American civil rights leader who inspired millions of people to action to take steps towards the end of racism. His unusual but peaceful strategies garnered support from both black and white people. In the process, he made his followers and supporters feel as if they owned the movement. Many race-related issues were peacefully resolved because of Dr. King’s transformational leadership (Bhasin, 2017).

Comparisons are often drawn between transformational leadership and transactional leadership. For transactional leadership to work well, the team…

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…was almost impossible to ignore the movement he had created. Having inspired a large part of the population to action, a series of events were set in motion that led to big changes in race relations even after his death. To this end, his transformational leadership style was very effective (Redziniak, 2016).


Both transactional and transformational leadership styles can be effective when used in environments that call for them. Transactional leadership works effectively where the leader’s followers know exactly what results need to be achieved and the specific steps needed to attain those results. It may be inadequate in an environment that is fast evolving and that requires fast independent innovation on the part of the followers. Where creative input to problem-solving is one of the main parts of the job of the followers, transformational leadership styles should be used alongside the transactional leadership style. It is therefore apparent that transformational leadership has great use even in environments where transactional leadership style is ideal (Cherry, 2018).

Leaders who embrace the transformational leadership style often appeal to their followers’ values and ambitions. In some cases, they may meet some resistance as some followers may not be persuaded to the idea of change. Where everyone is not sold on the vision, it is critical that the transformational leader adopt some transactional leadership tools to get everyone aligned with the greater vision of the group. If the transformational leader has a large following, the utilization of transactional leadership skills is not….....

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Almiron Arevalo, V., Tikhomirova, A., Trejo Toriz, A. C., & Garcia Ramirez, J. M. (2015). Transactional Leadership vs. Transformational Leadership. Reidocrea-Revista Eectronica De Investigacion Y Docencia Creativa, 4, 24-27.

Bhasin, H. (2017). Transformational Leadership explained with examples. Retrieved January 11, 2019, from

Burns, J. M. G. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

Cherry, K. (2018, November). How Does Transactional Leadership Style Work? Retrieved January 11, 2019, from

Redziniak, R. (2016, June 5). The Transformational Leader – Martin Luther King Jr. Retrieved January 11, 2019, from

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