transactional and transformational leaders & my perspective

Kenneth Leithwood does a good job differentiating between transactional and transformational leaders. Describe the differences he presents and share any characteristics you have related to either.
By:Soraya Fallah

Leithwood clearly guides us towards accepting transformational leaders in order to be able to convert current situations to a better future. An organization needs guidelines to stay alive, being maintained, going forward, and looking ahead. Thus I think an organization/institution needs both types of leadership systems; transactional and transformational.

One leadership type thinks strategically, while the other thinks tactically. I am going to briefly explain Leithwood’s ideas on both kinds of leadership through my experience. Charisma, inspirational leadership, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation are basically four factors that distinguish transformational leaders from transactional leaders. A small company or educational institution can improve if its leader has ambitious goals to bring about change and bring in innovations.

As I refer back to my own experience, there are some uncontrollable variables that affect our leadership styles. These may be the law and regulations, company policies, capacity of the other people around us, time and resources such as funds. A person may be a transformational leader but due to the complexities may need to act in a more transactional manner.  

What caught my eyes in the text is “all transformational approaches to leadership emphasize emotions and values and share in common the fundamental aim of fostering capacity development and higher level of personal commitment to organizational goals on the part of leaders’ colleagues.” (Leithwood, 2007, page 191). Thus I relate to transformational leadership.

In the institution I work, both kinds of leaderships are involved. This was apparent during a critical time between the years 2009-2011 when the CA legislators wanted to eliminates more than 300 locations of community-based day care programs. These programs provided a variety of health services, therapeutic, and social services as well as educational workshops for local community members on various issues in many urban and rural areas of the state and helped those at risk of being placed in nursing homes.

Some leaders from these centers had great ideas who thought beyond the box. They were transformational leaders who banded with transactional leaders to find ways to keep these services alive. They did so by tirelessly standing in front of Sacramento’s harsh decisions and worked towards improving the health, rights, and quality of the lives of the people in the local community who were benefiting from these daily services. Through the vision of transformational leaders and the pragmatism of the transact ional leaders, they managed to help these community centers to survive.
I am happy I was part of that transformation.


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