Transformational Leadership Models

Transformational leadership theory emerged from the political sociology writings of James MacGregor Burns.

Transformational leadership models have a dual focus on who a leader is as well as what a leader does, merging both the personal characteristic and behavioral theories of leadership. Yet, the models go further. Early theories of leadership focused on influencing others to achieve good results, yet the results being sought were readily achievable and the means of achieving them were known. Transformational leadership by contrast involves rallying people behind a dream or vision of something that as yet has been out of reach.

Personal Characteristics of Transformational Leaders

Transformational leaders are likely to have many of the following personal characteristics:

• A deep sense of personal purpose coupled with an unshakable self-confidence in the ability to realise this purpose.

• A strong desire to take charge and make things happen, without being overly bossy.

• A strong social presence and superb oral communication skills, often coupled with a reputation of unconventional behavior.

• A sensitivity to how people are feeling and an ability to connect well with people at a personal one-on-one level.

• A willingness to take personal risks and make sacrifices in order realise their vision.

• An internal locus of control, with a 'what can I do with what I have now' attitude.

These characteristics emerge in different ways with different people as illustrated by such notable figures as Sir Richard Branson, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Followers' Theory or Acceptance Theory

The theory assets that followers are important in deciding whether a person is a leader or not. If followers accept a person their leader he is leader irrespective of his traits or behaviour. According to this theory, followers must form groups. The theory cannot be applied without group of followers. The theory based on the assumption that groups have certain basic needs which they want to be fulfilled through their leader. A person who is successful in satisfying their basic needs, is assumed to be their leader. On the contrary, if he does not succeed in getting their needs satisfied, he can neither be said to be a good leader nor he will be allowed to function as such. Thus need of the followers is the most crucial and guiding factor in the leadership event.

The major weakness of the theory is that it ignores the quality aspect of leadership. But modern managers are of the opinion that it is the followers theory that is now playing a significant role in managing the people today. In India followers, theory is playing a dominant role in the business, industrial and political leadership.

System Theory

Leadership is governed by a person's act rather than by his traits which influences the followers most. It followers that leadership is a sole behaviour which co-ordinates the efforts of the people and stimulates them towards the achievement of their goal in a particular situation. This approach is called system approach because it considers all the variables present at the same time, i.e., leader, followers, situation, goals, leadership traits, environments and group's nature, characteristics and needs, role, behaviour of the leader and his co-coordinating efforts.

This theory is recognised as the modern theory of leadership. In the modern world, this theory is rather more acceptable to followers.

One of the most well validated situational theories is Fieldera's contingency model. Whilst Grid theory advocates adopting a high relationship high task approach in all situations, contingency theory suggests that leaders should consider three contextual factors before deciding on the best people-task mix to any situation.

1. Leader-member relations - these can be either good or poor.

2. Task structure - how prescribed and systematized is the action the leader is wanting staff to take.

3. Leader positional power - the degree of positional authority the leader has over staff in relation to the specific staff at hand.

The model has been shown to work best when situations are classified into one of three categories:

• Favourable

• Moderately favourable

• Unfavourable.

When the situation is moderately favourable, (either good leader member relations, with low task structure and a low level of positional authority; OR when leader member relations are poor, the task structure is high and positional authority is high) a task-orientated approach has been shown to be more effective.

In all other situations a relationship-orientated approach works best.

Fielder asserted that leaders have a dominant fixed-style and that leaders should therefore be matched to the specific situation at hand in a given organizational unit, when selecting leaders. This echoes Peter Drucker's claim that is far easier to turn an average performer into a star performer by finding roles where their natural strengths are called for than it is by trying to develop their weaker areas. Whilst more recent theorists suggest leaders can change their style to suit the situation, achieving such change at a habitual level takes focus, pratcice and persistence. It is well worth considering ways to change the situation to suit your style first. Consider McDonalds as an example of a multi-billion dollar organistion whose structured systems allow it to virtually run by teenagers.

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