Charismatic leadership is a method of inspiring and encouraging certain behaviors in followers through persuasion and effective communication. Charismatic leaders are committed to their cause and employ charisma to solve complex coordination challenges demanding collective action from group members (Grabo et al., 2017). Moreover, charismatic leaders rely on the relationship with their audience and empower employees to strengthen their performance (Demirtas & Karaca, 2020). Transformational leadership is similar to the charismatic one as it is also based on the followers’ motivation. The main difference in the transformational style is the shift from the emphasis on the leader’s moral compass to the importance of intellectual stimulation and relevant leadership methods (Buil et al., 2019). In transactional leadership, the leaders focus exclusively on their best interest and performance results without considering the employees’ individual needs or personal development (Northouse, 2018). The style depends on punishments and rewards to keep the followers motivated. In the following examples, I will describe the experience of working with transformational and transactional supervisors and evaluate the effectiveness of each leadership style.
I used to work for a business solutions company where my immediate supervisor was a transformational leader who divided the employees into different teams supported us with clear instructions and guidelines. He encouraged the members to democratically choose the leaders, whose responsibility was to coordinate the activities within the team. Most importantly, the supervisor identified each employee’s strengths and weaknesses as well as their areas of passion, so the leaders cooperated with teams through inspiration, motivation, and encouragement (Demirtas & Karaca, 2020). He expressed trust in the members, so he offered them the autonomy to perform their duties based on the stipulated rules and guidelines as well as the vision of the organization. The leader never compelled or coerced the members to perform their duties but encouraged them to perform beyond their capabilities. The autonomy and authority given to the teams induced a sense of positive attitude and change in the organization because the employees felt valued and were involved in the decision-making. The employees performed effectively because they were aligned to tasks that enhanced their performance, while the leaders shared collective consciousness.
The transformational leadership style was effective, as the supervisor set high but reasonable goals based on the employees’ abilities and inspired them to achieve the objectives. He appreciated intrinsic motivation and clearly explained the vision and expectations of the organization. The members were motivated to think independently without being unnecessarily influenced (Demirtas & Karaca, 2020). The leader was innovative and open to new ideas from all members, so he created new opportunities for the employees and discarded obsolete leadership methods. His style was effective due to the mentorship component that helped the employees realize their potential and employ it for the benefit of the organization (Demirtas & Karaca, 2020). Through efficient leadership, the firm was able to exceed its targets because the employees outperformed the expectations.
I have also encountered a supervisor at a business solutions company who used a transactional style of leadership. The approach was selected to improve employee self-determination and decrease the dependency on the leader (Northouse, 2018). However, my personal experience exposed the ineffectiveness of the transactional leadership style and its negative impact on employee motivation and productivity. The leader provided little support to the employees and gave no constructive criticism or feedback essential for the followers’ personal growth. The supervisor avoided direct contact with the team members and did not disclose his long-term plans for the company’s development during the meetings. I have noticed that experienced employees appreciated the transactional style as it gave them the freedom to act at their discretion, especially during the development of marketing strategies for our customers. However, the members with less experience in business solutions and consulting told me about their unmet needs for workshops and training to facilitate their professional development and allow them to gain experience through supervised practice.
Several team members were disappointed with the supervisor’s lack of communication and noted that it negatively impacted their motivation. The leader sanctioned employees for unsatisfactory performance via verbal or written warnings and disciplinary meetings but also rewarded them for good results (Jensen et al., 2016). The lack of employee motivation might be explained by the absence of detailed feedback for both rewards and disciplinary measures. Moreover, the leader listed the company’s short-term objectives but did not indicate the incentives and how every team member can be a valuable contributor to the long-term goals. Overall, the exclusive use of the transactional approach is ineffective, as it does not distinguish between different employees, lacks mechanisms for personal development, and relies on the self-determination capabilities of the team members.
All in all, amongst the three leadership styles, transformational might be considered as the most effective because it involves an individualized approach to the team members. Transformational leaders respond to the concerns of their followers, provide appropriate assistance, and understand that different employees require different motivation strategies, so they ensure tailor-made support to all team members. Furthermore, a transformational leader can explain a unified vision for a firm, which encourages the team members to work beyond expectations. Overall, transformational leaders understand the importance of employee motivation and a strong sense of purpose, increasing the organization’s productivity.
Buil, I., Martinez, E., & Matute, J. (2019). Transformational leadership and employee performance: The role of identification, engagement and proactive personality. Management, 77, 64–75.
Demirtas, O., & Karaca, M. (2020). A handbook of leadership styles. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Grabo, A., Spisak, B. R., & Van Vugt, M. (2017). Charisma as signal: An evolutionary perspective on charismatic leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 28(4), 273–485.
Jensen, U. T., Andersen, L. B., Bro, L. L., Bollingtoft, A., Eriksen, T. L. M., Holten, A. L., Jacobsen, C. B., Ladenburg, J., Nielsen, P. A., Salomonsen, H. H., Westergard-Nielsen, N., & Wurtz, A. (2016). Conceptualizing and measuring transformational and transactional leadership. Administration & Society, 51(1), 3–33.
Northouse, P. G. (2018). Leadership: Theory and practice (8th ed.). SAGE Publications.