Transformational Leadership to Drive Breakthrough Results

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 36
Words: 10183
Reading time:
37 min
Study level: PhD


This study focuses on transformational leadership and seeks to build a detailed picture of how leadership facilitates achieving organizational goals and motivating employees. Numerous organizations are adopting transformational leadership to boost their performance. The dissertation will use a qualitative approach in correcting and analyzing data to facilitate an understanding of how transformational leadership promotes organizational growth. The research will seek to understand the existing leadership in McDonald’s Kallang and if the management team is aware of transformational leadership and its benefits. Thirty participants from the company were interviewed and their information and using constant comparative analysis and phenomenological approach. The findings are rich in information and corroborate that the management in McDonald’s Kallang uses a transactional leadership style in its operations. The leadership style discourages creativity and teamwork thus inhibiting the restaurant’s ability to achieve its vision. Besides, the findings prove that the management team has no idea about transformational leadership and its benefits. While the findings obtained reflect the leadership in McDonald’s Kallang, the study recommends comprehensive research to be conducted to come up with a general conclusion on leadership in the fast-food industry.


There are numerous people to acknowledge and thank. I would like to pass my sincere gratitude to the management staff in McDonald’s Kallang who responded positively to my request to interview them. I would also wish to acknowledge my family and my tutorial assistant, who gave me the requisite moral support throughout the study.


McDonald’s Kallang is a subsidiary of McDonald Corporation dealing in the fast-food industry. The restaurant is located in Singapore and comprises five hundred employees working in various capacities within the restaurant. A General Manager, who is responsible for making major decisions affecting the restaurant, heads McDonald’s Kallang. Right below the General Manager is two assistant managers, the shift running manager, floor manager, staff training crew, and the other employees. To enhance the competitive advantage of the restaurant, the general manager asked the staff training crew to hire employees that have vast experience in the fast-food industry. Hence, the restaurant does not spend a lot of time training its employees since it believes that all its employees have the requisite skills required in their areas of specialization.

There are various training opportunities for McDonald’s Kallang staff but my experience suggests that these opportunities have not been exploited to the fullest. In the course of leadership development, the individuals’ barriers of being their greatest possible self are not being effectively eliminated. The restaurant’s management puts too much emphasis on profiling and planning. This means that the top management is keen to analyze the employees’ capabilities and plan for performance improvement. In general, it should be a good practice. However, excessive profiling and planning may lead to negligence of functional problems and less individual targeted staff education. This dissertation focus on ascertaining a plausible alternative to such practice and a transformational approach has been chosen for this purpose.

Management is a key area in any company. Without proper management of the resources available for any company, the success of that particular company is just but a dream that is far from becoming a reality. This explains why any given company finds it crucial to employ competent human resources, administration, as well as financial managers in a bid to evade any form of collapsing. Within the context of the paper, the company’s management has taken certain approaches like manager scorecard and adapted Information Systems (I.S.) tools to constantly compare and measure potential leaders. In this contemporary business environment, many organizations are taking similar steps. Hence, dependence on I.S. is increasing every day (Kettinger & Lee 1997, p.23). This dependence has both its pros and cons. I.S. management tools amply help in performance monitoring and scorecard synthesis to spot the potential leaders. However, with such a technology-dependent attitude, the management cannot achieve optimal results since psychological intervention is also required to initiate a holistic mental change and eliminate the capability barriers by harnessing “employees’ satisfaction” (Burke 1995, p. 748).

The central reason behind the collapse of any company is the failure of having informed strategies. It is also pertinent for every company to embark much on developing strategies that will see it arrive at its set goals and objectives. Some enterprises that know the importance of having informed strategies take a good share of their time-some kind of a break from the normal office duties- to develop a plan, based on departmental targets, but whose added-up objectives bring about the achievement of the company’s/organizational impact. As a result, McDonald’s Kallang has established a strong strategic direction to help it compete with other fast-food companies in Singapore. The restaurant uses a lean production system as a way of reducing the cost of its operations. Staffs ensure that the restaurant manufactures enough products for its target customers and nothing goes to waste. Besides, the restaurant examines its equipment regularly to ensure that they are in good condition. The general manager understands that employees are vital to the growth of the restaurant. Hence, he makes sure that the restaurant addresses their needs on time to boost their morale. The restaurant has established control policies. The policies help in enhancing employee efficiency.

The floor manager always monitors the employees to see that they are using organizational equipment as expected. In addition, the two assistant managers ensure that staff does not exploit organizational resources like the internet and computers. They ensure that they use the provided internet to market the restaurant to the outside world rather than using it to pursue personal goals. McDonald’s Kallang works in liaison with financial analysts to establish a strategic plan for financing its operations. It puts into consideration its past financial expenditures, current costs, gains from assets, retained earnings as well as cash flow. The analysis guarantees that the restaurant always has financial resources to cater for any contingency that may arise in course of its operations.

Despite McDonald’s Kallang having a strong strategic direction, the restaurant is still far away from attaining its vision. Its vision is to be the number one company in the fast-food industry. Nevertheless, this vision is never sold to its employees as expected. Since the restaurant employs people with skills in the fast-food industry, it does not take time to take them through its vision and mission. Instead, the restaurant deploys its hired employees to their areas of specialization upon hiring them. McDonald’s Kallang values employee empowerment. Hence, the management leaves employees to make decisions on matters affecting them at their workplaces. However, it is hard for them to come up with innovations aimed at improving the restaurant since they do not have a clear view of the organization’s vision. Besides, the management does not take the initiative to lead its employees to achieve the desired change.

Currently, the restaurant employs a transactional leadership style where employees are rewarded according to their performance. The style helps in keeping all employees on their toes as everyone competes for recognition (Hoyt, & Blascovich 2003, pp.678-715). Despite the leadership style keeping all the employees active at all times, it discourages teamwork within the organization. Every employee wants to outshine the others and therefore no one accepts to share his or her experience in any field in fear that others might use the opportunity to improve their performance thus earning recognition at his or her expense. The use of transactional leadership has led to the restaurant not attaining its objective of becoming the leading restaurant in the fast-food industry because of the imminent division among the employees.

For McDonald’s Kallang to achieve its vision and improve its competitiveness, it requires to embrace a transformational leadership style. The management needs to embark on selling the restaurant’s vision to all the employees. As some employees might be reluctant to embrace the vision, managers ought to use all the available opportunities to convince their staff about the importance of adopting the vision. The managers ought to show a high level of integrity when dealing with employees to make them follow their directives.

The introduction of a transformational leadership approach in the realm of staff education will result in a two-fold effect. First, the trainers will emphasize behavioral guidance and set the goals accordingly. Second, the potential leaders will be able to conduct extensive literature research to form a strong theoretical basis for the project and focus on the qualitative aspects of leadership development. Primary research will be aimed to quantify the opinions and attitudes of the employees towards transformational leadership. All employees in an organization must work towards attaining organizational goals. Hence, transformational leadership training is supposed to target all employees within an organization.

Literature Review

Transformational leadership is a course whereby leaders transform their personal goals into those of the corporation for the good of the organization and the employees within that organization. Transformational leaders can prompt higher levels of inspiration and dedication among cohorts by creating mindsets of trust and devotion by empowering, consulting, and entrusting (Mullins 2005, p.84). Transformational leadership is frequently viewed in contrast and polarity to transactional leadership, which is viewed as despotic and is based on the technical organizational structure and the rightful influence that this creates. A transactional leader advises employees on what to do. Additionally, he or she uses the organizational incentives and chastisement system to accomplish objectives (Mullins 2005, p.87).

Transformational leadership, however, extends beyond this task-based recompense exchange and takes leadership to the next stage. Bass and Riggio (2006, p.5) argue that transformational leaders do much more with colleagues and cohorts than assemble a string of incentives for tasks. They posit that leadership arouses cliques with challenges and influence, offering both significance and understanding. Transformational leadership is rationally stimulating, intensifying the followers’ use of their aptitude. Finally, the leadership is independently considerate, supplying the follower with hold up, mentoring, and training. Transformational leadership represents affirmative leadership behaviors emphasizing the empowerment of cohorts. This notion coincides well with present organizational change and management theory, which underlines the need for businesses to become less hierarchical and technical. Transformational leadership advocates for involvement, flexibility, and team orientation (Kark 2004, p.34). Such features like empowerment, participation, discussion, and inclusion identify transformational leadership. It goes beyond the repressive style of transactional leadership. Nevertheless, some authors do claim that transactional leadership, mainly dependent reward, does provide a wide basis for successful leadership.

The fast-food industry is growing at an alarming rate. More companies are emerging thus calling for creativity for a company to stand out and overcome competition waged by emerging organizations. It is hard for McDonald’s Kallang to invoke creativity in its employees if the management is incapable of influencing and motivating them. Hence, there is a need for the company to adopt a leadership style that invokes creativity within the employees. The current transactional leadership style discourages creativity since every employee works independently. Staff does not like sharing ideas for fear that others will benefit from their ideas. Besides, the management makes little effort to identify the needs of every employee as well as their capabilities. Hence, the organization does not maximize the capabilities of its employees.

Transformational leadership is a key concept and research area in the realm of modern management sciences. Burns made significant contributions in developing this field through descriptive research (1978, p.103). The approach of transformational leadership brings about considerable change in the lives of people and the functionality of organizations. Applying transformational leadership theory, aspirations and expectations of the employees are changed in an inspirational way so that even enhanced targets can be achieved more easily. The process redesigns values, perspectives, and ways of interaction (Nissinen 2006, p.89: Alimo-Metcalfe and Alban-Metcalfe 2001, p.46: Burns 1978, p.57). Hence, the transformational approach is significantly change-oriented. Changing employees’ behaviors, perceptions, and performance levels is critical in effectively training the executives (Kilburg 1996, p.7). Therefore, where there is a need for a positive change, the transformational approach appears to be sensible and productive (Bass 1998).

Transformational leaders lift organizations from low planes of need, focused on endurance to higher planes. They also motivate employees to go beyond their benefits for the sake of mutual benefit within an organization (Feinberg, Ostroff, & Burke 2005, p.471). In the process, the leaders help employees meet organizational goals and satisfy most of their personal needs. Transformational leadership prompts trust, loyalty, admiration, and respect between the employees and their leaders. This leadership style calls for leaders to collaborate with cohorts as ‘whole’ people, and not simply treat them as employees. In consequence, transformational leadership emphasizes the realization of followers. Leadership also entails a “self-reflective transforming of beliefs and values exhibited by leaders and their employees” (Barbuto 2005, p.28). From this, surfaces a vital feature of transformational leadership.

The leadership style involves leaders and cohorts raising each other’s accomplishments, motivations, and morality to heights that might otherwise have been difficult for individual leaders or followers to achieve. Even though an understanding of transformational leadership connoted on its results seems to have been accomplished, the available literature on educational leadership does not give a clear outset of the process that makes up transformational leadership. For instance, some of the literature tries to bring out the connection between transformational and charismatic leadership though pointing out the dearth of ideas of charisma in some vocation transformational leadership. Most writers in this field agree that four I’s make up transformational leadership. These I’s stand for Idealized influence, Inspirational motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individualized consideration (Judge, & Piccolo 2004, pp.755-768).

Idealized influence involves building faith and confidence and offering a paradigm that followers seek to copy (Bono, & Judge 2004, p.901). Normally, employees trust, respect, and admire their leaders. Poise in the leader acts as a base for embracing drastic organizational change. At times, employees view the implemented changes negatively. They might consider it as a move by the leaders to discriminate against some employees, especially those that are directly affected by the change. In return, they revolt against such changes and refuse to embrace them. If employees trust their leaders and have confidence in them, chances of opposing changes that are introduced in an organization are minimal.

Employees that understand the qualities of their leaders are less likely to refuse to give in to suggestions for change from the leaders. Idealized influence is associated with charisma (Gellis 2001, p.18). Charismatic leadership is a feature of transformational leadership and counts on leaders and cohorts for its appearance. The relationship between charismatic and transformational leadership is exhibited when an organization is facing a crisis. Leaders set examples to employees at times of crisis by sacrificing some of their benefits. A good example is Lee Iacocca’s sacrifice to rescue Chrysler Corporation (Kelly 2003, p.102).

Iacocca took leadership of Chrysler Corporation at a time when the company made a $160 million loss. The company was poorly managed, had no organizational discipline, and was run as a chain of domains managed by different leaders. To restore sanity in the corporation, he sacked 33 out of the 35 vice presidents and improved the image of the corporation. He introduced new brains into the company from Ford and challenged all the leaders to view the challenges facing the company as parameters that would determine their determination and quality. When more challenges continued facing the corporation, Iacocca took the initiative to visit all the plants owned by Chrysler where he met employees and enlightened them on the challenges the company was going through. He expressed his determination to use everything he had in restoring the glory of Chrysler Corporation. His determination to revive the company earned him trust from other employees. He inspired employees to forfeit some of their wages and benefits to facilitate reviving the company.

Inspirational motivation is linked to idealized influence, however, while the latter believes that cohorts are motivated due to charisma exhibited by leaders, inspirational leadership involves motivating the whole organization to, for instance, embrace inventions. Transformational leaders elucidate an alluring view of the future, give the cohorts a chance to envisage value in their work and dare them by setting high standards. The leaders encourage employees to become components of the general organizational culture and setting (Stone, Russell, & Patterson 2003, p.3). Leaders use conversations, motivational speeches, and display sanguinity and keenness to achieve this. Besides, they promote teamwork and highlight positive results. A good example of inspirational leadership exhibited by transformational leaders is the speech that President John F. Kennedy gave to the public about his vision of sending an American to the moon by 1970. Through his speech, President Kennedy managed to stir the minds of all Americans. Everybody started looking for ways that could help in the realization of the president’s vision (Bass, Avolio, Jung, & Berson 2003, pp.208-214).

To achieve the desired success, management in McDonald’s Kallang ought to remind its staff about the restaurant’s vision and encourage them to work towards achieving the vision. The management ought to illuminate an appealing view of the restaurant’s future for employees to see the need to remain in the restaurant. Normally, employees are reluctant to continue working in a company where they are not guaranteed their growth career-wise. Besides, they like working in a company that they are sure is there to stay, and not a company that will close in the next few years. After outlining the company’s vision, the management is supposed to lead employees in achieving the vision and not leaving the responsibility to the employees.

Transformational leadership motivates employees and triggers their desire to come up with better ways of enhancing their operations within an organization. Communicating organizational goals to employees makes them strive to ensure that they are counted among those that helped in the realization of the dream (Bass, Avolio, Jung, & Berson 2003, pp.215-218).

Intellectual stimulation is another feature of transformational leadership. It entails varying and exciting employees’ awareness of problems and their ability to handle those problems. Transformational leaders query beliefs and postulations and encourage employees to be inventive and imaginative in dealing with problems. They encourage employees to use new strategies in dealing with old problems (Barbuto 2005, p.15). Transformational leadership style empowers employees by swaying them to suggest new and contentious ideas without fear of derision or chastisement. Employees fear airing ideas that contradict those given by their leaders even if their ideas would help in improving organizational performance. Since they are involved in the daily running of the organization, employees are in most cases equipped with better knowledge on how to improve the organization than their leaders. Nevertheless, they do not share this knowledge due to fear of intimidation by their seniors. Eventually, the employees end up adopting strategies formulated by their leaders, which at times bear no fruits or end up complicating things (Simic 2003, p.52).

Transformational leadership promotes employee empowerment in a manner that they enforce their ideas shrewdly and not at any cost. It makes employees feel like to be part of the management team thus giving their best. In addition, they feel that the management acknowledges their contribution. Transformational leadership goes a long way to help an organization reduce its rate of employee turnover (Simic 2003, p.55). One of the reasons why employees leave a company is a failure by the management to recognize their contribution. It makes them feel as if they are not part of the company and they must work for the company. However, acknowledging their role in the organization gives them the courage to continue working for their good and the good of the organization.

Another element of transformational leadership is individualized consideration. It refers to addressing the exact, exceptional requirements of employees to make sure they are not left out in the transformation course of the organization. Employees are treated independently and differently based on their knowledge and talents (Shin, & Zhou 2003, p.704). This aims at helping them attain higher levels of accomplishments than they might have attained. Individualized consideration is characterized by personalized career counseling, professional development, and mentoring activities. In addition, it involves reasonable workload allocation and the use of encouraging words and expressions by leaders (Stone, Russell, & Patterson 2003, p.3).

Renowned experts like Bass and Avolio (1994, p. 1) hold that transformational leadership can provide cumulative improvement to “organizational effectiveness”. Throughout the last decade, McDonald’s Kallang has been facing fierce competition in the fast-food industry in Singapore. Technology advances are calling for more innovative and leaner production techniques, which pose significant challenges. Hence, the organization is looking for a change, which will bring about innovations and holistic performance improvement. Fostering transformational leadership qualities among the staff can help them to increase their psychological capabilities, become self-aware, and contribute more to the research processes (Bass, & Avolio1994, p. 1). This is the mechanism employed by other McDonald subsidiaries in countries like the United States. The management not only empowers its employees but works in collaboration with its employees to promote creativity. The management evaluates its past performance and envisages a future that is better than its past. It can come up with a vision and demonstrate to its staff all the viable strategies for achieving the vision. The management communicates and personifies the company’s vision to the employees and target customers. This helps in bringing about novel changes within the company, which facilitates enhancing its competitive advantage.

However, changes can happen in several ways. A gradual, systematic change cannot accomplish the goals of growth-oriented coaching. Melding both change-oriented and growth-oriented training strategies is necessary to adjust in a highly dynamic and competitive environment (Kirkpatrick 1977, p.86). Furthermore, rapid changes are imperative to obtain breakthrough results. Only transformational leadership can be utilized to enable the leaders and their subordinates to advance to a superior level of motivation and morale (Bass 1985, p.44: Burns 1978, p.12). In the view of a study conducted by Manchester Inc. in 2003, Bass et al (2003, p. 239) write, “Position coaching effectively fits within the organization as a positive initiative and a sign of the organization’s commitment to leadership development.”

The transformational approach is more suitable for achieving this end rapidly enough. Although coaching and transformational leadership are different topics, the transformational leadership style entails coaching and making employees understand why the management intends to adopt a certain strategic direction and not the other. Transformational leadership skills significantly benefit the employees. Basset al (2003, p.54) have noticed that positive behavioral changes will improve employee satisfaction. Such change-oriented requirements and behavioral improvements can be achieved much easier if transformational leadership techniques are introduced. To conduct a change-oriented training program and achieve breakthrough results through leadership development, the trainer should prepare comprehensive professional development plans. These professional development plans must be individually targeted and customized as per trainee specific needs.

According to Stone, Russell, and Patterson (2003, p.3), managers must completely develop and value their employees if they want to achieve growth in revenues. Thus, change-oriented leadership may culminate in growth-oriented consequences. In this way, desired levels of professional development can be achieved. The transformational approach provides enough scope to innovate. In a static organizational environment, transformational leadership can provide better ideas feasible within the existing infrastructure and framework. Transformation works its way at the intellectual and behavioral level, which means that first, change of mentality, is desired and accomplished. This psychoanalytical aspect of transformational leadership is made more prominent through interactions between the various organizational levels in the company. Interviews, surveys, and discussions become more useful than costly modifications in infrastructure (Antonakis, Avolio, & Sivasubramanium 2003, p.76).

However, organizations often tend to conduct technical changes and adjustments in infrastructure. Executive training empowered by the transformational leadership approach can considerably improve the relationship between trainers and trainees since transformational leadership has psychological and behavioral approaches. Yet, such a combination of transformational leadership and executive training has not been extensively experimented with. Antonakis et al (2003, p.12) propose executive training, which surfaced as a leadership development practice over a decade ago. It is now among the most widely used executive development techniques.

In the following paragraphs, the writer gives some case examples, which have been extracted from reputed news archives, although those are not a part of dissertation-level literature research in a stricter sense. The news archives are being referenced for the demand of contemporary information, which is unavoidable for discussing the proposed dissertation topic. Lately, Tupperware Brands Corporation has “announced the creation of the Tupperware Global Links Program, a year-long externship designed to inspire a new generation of Iraqi women entrepreneurs and, in turn, help strengthen the country’s struggling economy and rebuild its middle class” (Huff Post 2012, p.41).

Further, Dr. Amel Abed Mohammed Ali, who is the professor and Head of the Department (HOD) of Industrial Management at the College of Administration and Economics under Babylon University, has been chosen as the inaugural scholar of the Tupperware Global Links program, which is aimed at “The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models” (Huff Post 2012, p.46). Interestingly, Dr. Ali is a specialist in change management and transformational leadership. This shows that expertise in transformational leadership theory has become the desired profile in the sphere of broader crisis management and renovations in war-torn Iraq. In another prominent case, Rauwald and Schmidt of Wall Street Journal point out that Berthold Huber, the head of IG Metall (the largest union of workers in Germany) is demanding a generous salary increment for the workers since the industrial giants of the country are rapidly recovering from the economic crisis.

According to Rauwald and Schmidt (2012, p.93), Huber has certain transformational characteristics that help him to keep the union together and bargain with the authorities of the companies like Daimler, Siemens, Volkswagen, etc. in a much constructive way. His leadership can be marked as a growth-oriented process with a substantial transformational approach.

Some authors criticize transformational leadership claiming that the four elements that define transformational leadership are not adequately distinctive enough to assist in a significant disconnection of transformational leadership from other leadership styles (Northouse 2007, p.36). There is criticism about the vague use of the notion of ‘influence’. It is argued that the concept is used to validate the expounding power of transformational leadership. According to this perception, transformational leadership involving features relating to influence would have more matter if the definite processes were identified in transformational leadership experimental studies. Yukl (2008, pp.285-305), disparages the absence of quantitative and qualitative studies relating to stimulation of purposes or sensations, alteration of viewpoint about reward eventualities, amplified self-efficacy or hopefulness, and augmented task dedication.

Bryman contributes to this criticism by positing that it is imperative for there to be a confirmed relationship between charismatic leadership and its influence on cohorts to the level that they in response exhibit behaviors, which are proportionate with the general goals of the leader. Bryman refers to this as ‘routinization of charisma’ (Bryman 2004, p.729) and argues that if the methods for routinizing their charisma are misconceived, charismatic leadership is prone to be a transient occurrence (Bryman 2004, p.754). In short, the critics claim that all the available qualitative readings that support transformational leadership are intrinsically defective.

Bryman (2004, pp.749-752) claims that transformational leadership frequently focuses on creating an individual character trait instead of a demeanor by which people may be inculcated. This leads to difficulties in training employees, as most of them find it hard to espouse this quality. Transformational leadership is a permutation of various leadership models. Hence, it is hard for organizations to understand and implement it effectively. In this form of leadership, the leader is seen as an imaginative idol and works in collaboration with his or her subjects to implement all organizational processes. This generates an impasse in perceiving the leadership from a trait standpoint.

Transformational leadership has also been criticized for being excessively selective and for placing lopsided stress on the ‘heroic’ feature of leadership that is at the expense of the apprehension of employees (Northouse 2007, 193). Couched in this criticism is the idea that transformational leaders are in some way bestowed with extraordinary qualities, which cohorts cannot acquire; hence, the followers’ fate is inevitably attached to the objectives of governing leaders.

Pillai and Williams (2004, pp.144-159) claim that transformational leadership has a higher likelihood for the misuse of power. This is concerning the ethics of leadership. In provisions of emotional perception, a transformational leader influences his or her subjects. If the direction taken by the leader turns to be wrong, then all his or her subjects would turn out to be in the wrong direction. Furthermore, transformational leaders are short of the quality of balancing and ensuring the particular influences and interests, which might help to circumvent autocracy and marginal suppression. A prominent exemplar of this model is Osama bin laden. He represents the negative face of transformational leadership. Osama used his influence and power to lure his subject to participate in criminal activities.


When designing and considering a suitable methodology, it is of course imperative to make use of the most apposite methods to tackle the research endeavors and objectives. Transformational leadership has been principally investigated using quantitative questionnaires, which assist to evaluate and measure the essentials of transformational leadership. Alban-Metcalfe and Alimo-Metcalfe (2000, pp.280-296) formulated the commonly used Transformational Leadership survey but suggested that more qualitative study needs to be conducted to discover the constructs allied to leadership in diverse organizational sceneries. This research aims at doing just that, examining transformational leadership within a fast-food company. The research is not trying to come up with statistical information regarding quantitative facts on transformational leadership qualities of a specific gender, nor is it trying to establish indiscriminate results that can be reassigned across a variety of organizations and situations. The use of quantitative methodology has subsequently been disregarded. The qualitative methodology will be used to examine the multiplicity, intricacy, profundity, and affluence of experience of senior officials in Kamuga Enterprise and most significantly, the importance of the meanings created by these experiences.

This research will focus on the leadership skills possessed by senior employees including the supervisors of the various departments and the managers. The research has been planned to explore the discernment and experiences of senior officials to gather rich information to facilitate investigating the research topic. This qualitative research is attracted to the subject’s comprehensive understanding of particular social circumstances, their conduct in those social circumstances, and it will not excessively focus on hypothetical generalizations. The planned research methodology coincides with what Bottoms (2000, p.123) depicts as an ‘active-subject, socially-oriented study. Bottoms illustrate the constructive elements of this method, which is portrayed by the lack of supposition of theory-dispassionate specifics, wary observation derived from captivation in the social world, and stress on the significance of social procedures to actors. The main disparagement, however, is the propensity to shy away from hypothetical generalizations. This can be considered rather restraining as the research results may be considered relevant to that piece of research only. Hence, the method is of limited use when trying to use the results in studying other social circumstances.

Information gathered in this study will only be used in analyzing and understanding the leadership style used in McDonald’s Kallang. The findings will be used to generalize the leadership culture in this enterprise and will not represent the leadership styles exhibited in other enterprises operating in the same industry.

Mason (2007, p.1) posits that qualitative research builds the ability to compose convincing opinions about how things work in specific circumstances. She claims that even though not all qualitative researchers intend to come up with a general image of how things work, the qualitative custom of closely linking context with justification implies that qualitative research is capable of coming up with very comprehensive cross-contextual overviews, instead of trying to establish weaker de-contextual descriptions. Mason argues that qualitative research is wrongly portrayed as ‘simply subjective’ and ‘descriptive’ and that those that afterward perceive qualitative research as innately weak fail to see the calculated importance of the situation in our learning of the social world.

Statement of objectives

To succeed in conducting thorough research and coming up with comprehensive conclusions, researchers must have clear objectives for their research. The objectives act as guidelines during the research and help researchers to avoid straying from their area of research. At times, these objectives are borrowed from the results of past studies. In such an instance, a researcher may focus on one of the findings and build on it or challenge it. For research to be meaningful, the researcher has to establish concrete objectives. Failure to set concrete objectives may lead to the researcher spending a lot of time on objectives that are not feasible. One ought to set out objectives that would be achievable within the given time. Some objectives would take a long to achieve, and given the duration research is expected to take, setting such objectives would lead to the researcher not completing his or her study or making poor conclusions.

In addition, it is imperative to come up with questions that the research will seek to answer. The questions are supposed to be formulated in a way that they help in meeting the outlined objectives or aims of the research. Some of the objectives of conducting this research include:

  • To determine the nature of the current leadership style in McDonald’s Kallang.
  • To identify the various challenges posed by the current leadership style.
  • To identify how leaders in the enterprise are shifting to the use of other leadership styles.
  • To determine if leaders in the company are aware of transformational leadership style as one of the leadership styles available for organizations.
  • To determine if transformational leadership can facilitate achieving the vision set by the organization.
  • To identify the employees that transformational leadership ought to target.
  • To determine if the leaders know about the benefits an organization accrues by using transformational leadership.

To meet these objectives, the research will seek to answer numerous questions. These questions will act as a guideline to the researcher. Appendix 1 gives some of the questions that will be used in collecting information.

Data collection method

The accuracy of any research study depends on the method of data collection used. There are numerous methods of data collection, but not all methods can be used for every research study. Hence, the researcher ought to look for the most appropriate method for his or her study. This research intends to use a qualitative approach. Consequently, it will rely on qualitative methods in collecting the required information (Denzin, & Lincoln 2000, p.112). The study will conduct a thorough literature review on Transformational leadership using scholarly resources like SpringerLink, Sage, Wiley, Google Scholar, and others. Besides, the research will focus on business and scientific journals and textbooks for more information regarding the transformational leadership culture. Library resources will also be beneficial in this regard. In the second phase, the research will conduct an in-depth interview with some of the senior employees in the company. It will seek to understand the current leadership style, the challenges encountered, and how transformational leadership can help in alleviating these challenges.

One of the reasons why the researcher intends to use a qualitative approach is because this method of data collection is flexible. The method gives room for greater impulsiveness and adjustment of the relation between the person conducting the study and the research subjects. For instance, the method asks open-ended questions, which are structured differently for the various participants. With this type of question, the research will collect accurate information since the different participants will answer the questions based on their understanding (Denzin, & Lincoln 2000, p.114). Besides, the responses will be elaborated helping the researcher to understand more about the level of leadership experience that the participants have. This is contrary to the quantitative method of data collection, which requires the participants to respond to the questions by giving either yes or no.

Additionally, with a qualitative approach, the interaction between the pollster and the participant is frequently less official than in a quantitative study. Participants are accorded the chance to elaborate their answers and get clarifications from the pollsters. In the qualitative method, the pollster and the participant engage in face-to-face correspondence, and hence, researchers are capable of responding straight away to the information collected from the participants. Moreover, researchers tailor their subsequent questions based on the information given by the participants (Denzin, & Lincoln 2000, pp.115-118).

When coming up with a conclusion regarding any research, researchers require comparing their findings with what is known. Hence, secondary data will be very crucial for this study. One of the reasons why the research will involve a review of various literature is because the method is economical. The time required for completion and compilation of this study is not adequate for one to organize for quantitative research (Denzin, & Lincoln 2000, p.120). Consequently, if the study requires using quantitative data, it will refer to the existing data in some of the secondary sources.

In addition, the literature review will help the researcher in being more specific when coming up with the interview questions. Using the secondary data obtained from the existing literature, the pollster will figure out the existing gaps. Hence, he will organize his research in a way that will facilitate collecting additional information. In other words, reviewing the existing literature will help the researcher build on what has already been explored by other scholars. Furthermore, the literature review will help the researcher have a strong foundation when conducting the research (Denzin, & Lincoln 2000, p.121). He or she will have a good understanding of the research problem thus ensuring that he or she does not deviate from the study during the research.

Interview Approach

The research will come up with a thematic interview plan, which will help the researcher to carry out a semi-structured and comprehensive interview. This will enable the interviewer to navigate the interview and take the interviewee through the research questions while at the same time giving him or her a chance to discuss the subjective issues that they believe are significant to their circumstances (Fielding, & Thomas 2001, p.51). The semi-structured interview will provide a flexible environment for the interviewer. Hence, he will be in a position to investigate the research subject to come up with affluent qualitative data. This will go a long way in ascertaining the reliability and validity of the results of the investigation. One of the primary concerns in the establishment of the interview questions will be the need to gather contextual knowledge and experiences. Attention will be made to ensure that the research questions are situational and not abstract. Furthermore, the researcher will ensure that the questions help to establish the contextual social processes and significances (Mason 2007, p.3).

Before the actual research, the interviewer will conduct a pilot interview to determine if the established questions will assist in gathering the required information. Besides, the pilot interview will help the interviewer in developing the essential abilities of relationship building, listening, and inquiring while not interrupting the free flow of the interview.

Interviews will be conducted in person and will be audio recorded. This will give the interviewer ample time to focus on the interview and dig deeper into issues while reducing cases of interrupting the interviewee. In instances where the interviewer is not audio recording the interviewee, one tends to interrupt the interviewee to clarify some information or to take notes on what has been said. This affects the free flow of the interview. Besides, the interviewer does not have adequate time to gather enough information. Collecting and recording data audibly will help the researcher store and access the information accurately and with ease at any time.

Finally, the researcher will organize a discussion and reflection session with the participants. The objective of organizing the discussion session is to get clarification from the participants on the information collected. In addition, the discussion session will help the researcher collect more information, which he or she did not collect during the interview session. Normally, discussion sessions are open where every participant is allowed to present his or her opinions. Hence, there is the likelihood that the participants will share ideas that were not tackled during the interview giving the researcher a wide scope from which to make his or her conclusions. Besides, the discussion will bring together all the participants from the various departments. This will give the researcher a clear picture of how the various leaders interact thus understanding how transformational leadership will help in boosting the management of McDonald’s Kallang.

Ethical issues

Ethics concerns in qualitative research are at times fainter than concerns in experimental or quantitative research. These concerns are associated with features of the qualitative approach that normally include lasting and intimate personal involvement, participant observation, and interviewing. Qualitative research entails human interaction and hence numerous ethical concerns might arise in course of this interaction (Israel, & Hay 2006, p.17).

Before the interviews, the researcher will make sure that there is informed consent between the parties partaking in the research. The researcher will inform the selected interviewees about the purpose of the research as well as its main elements. Besides, they will be informed about the potential risks and benefits of participating in the research to give them room for making an informed decision. Since there will be an open discussion, where the top management might even be severely criticized, the respondents will be guaranteed confidentiality (Israel, & Hay 2006, p.23). Personal comments will be avoided, even though such comments may help in understanding trainer-learner relationships.

This is another ethical area, where respondents will deserve privacy and the interviewer will have to be diplomatic. To ensure the privacy of the participants, the pollster will use pseudonyms and ensure that he or she does not disclose to unauthorized parties any information that identifies the participants. The researcher will try as much as possible not to record the names of those partaking in the study. Additionally, the pollster will supply the participants with an information sheet that will require them to give an oral and not a signed consent.

In as much as the pollster wishes to understand particular contexts within the company, he will ensure that he does not give deceptive information. Besides, the interview questions will be set in a way that they do not discriminate against some participants. This implies that the questions will be structured in a way that they do not set up the participants. No harmful interviewing methods will be applied in this research and the researcher will work hard to build a positive rapport with the interviewees.

Sampling method

Qualitative research involves one form of statistical generalization. Information obtained from the selected sample is assumed to represent the entire population. Consequently, qualitative researchers either make an analytic or statistical generalization from their findings (Curtis, Gesler, Smith, & Washburn 2000, pp.1001-1007). Qualitative researchers normally make internal statistical generalizations since they seek to get insight into special social, educational, and practices that exist in a specific situation and location. Observations made in any qualitative research act as a subset of all other observations that could have been made had the investigator used a different method of data collection in the same setting (Curtis, Gesler, Smith, & Washburn 2000, pp.1008-1010).

In this study, the researcher will use a random sampling method in selecting the participants. All senior officers will be selected randomly. This method of sample selection will give all the senior employees equal chances of participating in the research. Moreover, to ensure that all genders are represented in the study, the researcher intends to group the target population based on gender and use a stratified random sampling method to select the required participants.

To come up with a comprehensive conclusion, the researcher will establish a sample comprising of 30 participants. The participants will range from managers of the various departments to supervisors who are responsible for monitoring daily operations within the organization. The main reason why this group of employees is targeted is that they are the ones involved in the day-to-day leadership in the company. Hence, they are conversant with the challenges encountered in managing the operations within McDonald’s Kallang. In addition, this number of participants is convenient in terms of time and resources available for the research. Selecting a bigger sample size may require the researcher to spend more time interviewing the participants. In the end, the investigator may not have enough time to analyze his data and deliver the findings on time.

Instrument design

One distinct feature of qualitative research is the use of researchers as the most helpful research instrument. Normally, qualitative research entails a constant revision of research design, a tangled process of data collection and data analysis, a crucial blend to attain a holistic idea, and the attainment of a naive viewpoint. All these involve the very intricate processing of multifarious variables within a short period. Such processing is far beyond the capacity of most of the available research instruments like computers. Furthermore, only a person can identify with the participants. Hence, the researcher is considered the most dependable instrument in any qualitative research.

To achieve the desired results, this study will use the researcher as it dependable instrument. The researcher will not only be responsible for collecting information but will also play a vital role in analyzing the obtained information. To achieve the objectives of the research, the researcher will use a broad range of his or her understanding, intelligence, and imagination. During the time of the study, the researcher will work as a human sensor. He will endeavor to understand and process information. The investigator will conduct an oral interview to collect the required information. He will record the gathered information during the interview using an audio recorder. The main reason for using the audio recorder is to help the researcher store the information for future reference.

Reliability and validity of the research

The term reliability is used mostly in testing quantitative data. Nevertheless, the term is also used in other forms of research. Stenbacka (2001, p552) claims that the notion of reliability is deceptive when it comes to qualitative research. Whenever a qualitative study is carried out with reliability as a principle, there is always a feeling that the research is not good. Patton (2002, pp.75-83) claims that reliability and validity are two crucial factors that every qualitative research ought to put into consideration. All researchers need to consider the validity and reliability of their study when designing, evaluating, and reviewing the quality of the research. The researcher needs to make sure that his study is executed in a way that will convince his or her audience that the results are worth looking at.

Patton (2002, p.88) asserts that for any qualitative research to be reliable, the researchers ought to conduct it with a high degree of trustworthiness. As earlier mentioned, the research will use both constant comparative analysis and phenomenological analysis to ensure that the findings are not manipulated to meet the already established results; rather they will be analyzed independently to come up with autonomous findings. Before concluding, the researcher will have to evaluate his or her findings to identify if it would be possible to arrive at such findings using a different set of participants. In addition, he or she will evaluate the findings to ascertain if a different researcher can arrive at the same findings. This will help in guaranteeing the validity and reliability of the results obtained.

The study’s questions are designed in a way that they address questions that only focus on leadership issues within McDonald’s Kallang. In most cases, the validity and reliability of the research are compromised by interview questions used in collecting information. The questions may be too structured making it hard for the participants to give unstructured responses. In the end, the researcher may end up gathering limited information thus not making a substantial judgment. This study will use semi-structured questions. Hence, the participants will have a chance to expound on the responses by giving short explanations. Besides, the researcher will engage in face-to-face conversations with the interviewees. Hence, they will be able to get clarification on responses to come up with a valid generalization of the findings.

The sample to be used in the investigation will comprise senior employees. Besides, the employees will come from the various departments of the company. The rationale behind using these employees is because they are the ones involved in managing the organization and have experience in leadership. Information relayed by these people will give a clear picture of the existing system of leadership. Besides, these participants will give first-hand information on the challenges they encounter using the existing leadership style. Therefore, the study will be valid and reliable since the researcher will obtain information from the staff involved in leading the institution.

Justification of the Design

Researchers prefer using a particular research design to others due to numerous factors. Among the factors, include “the available resources for the research, available time, the nature of the required data, level of the desired accuracy, and the number of participants” (Morse 2006, p.40) among others. If the researcher has limited time to cover the study, he or she may opt to come up with a research design that employs quantitative methods of data approach. On the other hand, if the research wishes to obtain accurate information, it would be imperative to use a research design that allows for qualitative methods of data collection.

Data collection methods must involve themes from the literature research. By researching information from the available literature, “…the researcher will be able to ascertain the accuracy of his or her findings” (Morse 2006, p.40). Besides, the available literature will offer a guideline to the researcher.

In addition, interview questionnaires will be the main data collection and codification instruments. Researchers like Bass and Riggio (2006), Bryman (2004), and Stone, Russell, and Patterson (2003) have chosen a similar methodology in researching leadership and management. Interviewing procedures must involve one on one meetings and friendly interaction with the respondents. McDonald’s Kallang staff will be the sample population since change-oriented coaching is a key focus area in the organization. No discrimination will be made among departments, functional levels, and specialization areas. In investigating leadership, limited numerical data is gathered. Most of the collected data is qualitative. This is the main reason why the research is designed to use qualitative approaches in gathering and analyzing the obtained data. The research aims at using interviews since it is the most accurate method of collecting qualitative data. Since no numerical data will be collected, the research design has not catered for any statistical method of data analysis.

Limitations of the research

The potential drawback of this particular information-gathering method is that some senior employees within the company may feel uncomfortable sharing their ideas on the possibly sensitive matters the research will be investigating. Hence, the chances of the researcher not getting accurate information regarding leadership in the company are high. The target participants might alter their experience in areas where they feel that giving accurate information will expose them as inexperienced.

The research will request all the interviewees to share their ideas regarding their leadership styles in their different departments. The information gathered might be both politically and personally sensitive (Morse 2006, pp.23-27). It will somewhat touch on the leadership style exhibited by those in the top management like the director. Consequently, some participants might shy away from sharing negative sentiments touching on the director in fear of discrimination. Failure to give accurate information regarding the leadership traits exhibited by the director is another limitation that is likely to affect the results of this investigation (Tichy, & Devanna 2005, p.23). The possible disquiet regarding this data collection method will be mitigated by reassuring the interviewees that the interviewer will use pseudonyms. Moreover, the interviewer will guarantee them that the records will be secured and only authorized people will have access to the records.

Another inadequacy of this research will arise from the fact that the data collected will be tremendously prejudiced. The most this research will do is to collect information regarding traits of transformational leadership styles for the targeted research subjects. Even though the proposed research is formulated to gather affluent and comprehensive information, the results cannot allege to be pertinent for and investigative of all senior leaders. To come up with generalized information, researchers will be required to use other research methods, which include the use of public records and quantitatively analyzed questionnaires to facilitate the triangulation of information results. The research will not help the interviewer in establishing a strong hypothetical generalization. Besides, the researcher will be wrong to claim that the findings are applicable across other organizations, or yet with diverse subjects and this is considered as the major limitation of the investigation. Nevertheless, the research will offer wealthy life experiences of senior employees in McDonald’s Kallang, which will help the researcher to relate their experience to transformational leadership.

There is limited literature on transformational leadership in the fast-food industry. This is another major limitation of this research. Normally, qualitative researchers derive their conclusions from what is observed in the study and the available literature. Consequently, the validity and reliability of the obtained results in this research will not be cross-checked with any other past findings. Hence, as Morse (2006, p.40) posits, “It will be hard to ascertain the accuracy of the findings”.

Data analysis

According to the data collected during this study, 17 out of the staff interviewed agreed that the current leadership style generally focuses on rewarding employees based on their performance. They claimed that every employee works hard to ensure that he or she is recognized and his contribution to the restaurant is appreciated. Most of the employees do not like working in groups since it is hard to recognize individual contributions (2006, p.26). Thirteen of the participants did not have a clear understanding of the nature of leadership in the organization despite them being in the leadership team. For them, they claimed that they executed their leadership based on instructions they receive from their seniors. In responding to challenges experienced in realizing the restaurant’s vision, 20 participants confided that there was a serious problem as the leadership style discouraged teamwork in the company. Besides, it discouraged creativity among the employees. Hoyt and Blascovich (2003, pp.678-715) posit that rewarding employees based on their contribution to an organization discourages teamwork and creativity. They term this style of leadership as a transactional leadership style.

Nineteen of the participants posited that most of the employees were not aware of the restaurant’s vision. They claimed that the management has not established policies to enlighten its employees about the restaurant’s vision. Besides, they claimed that they do not communicate the vision to their employees. Twenty- two of the participants claimed that the only strategy used in influencing and motivating employees is rewarding them based on their performance. They agreed that they do not engage their employees in making most of the decisions affecting the company. The remaining eleven claimed that they did not consider the restaurant’s policy in their daily management practices. They confessed not to attribute organizational success to organizational vision. Hence, they did not place more value on informing employees about the vision of McDonald’s Kallang.

Sixteen of the participants claimed to know transactional leadership style as one of the available leadership styles though they were not sure of the leadership style used in the restaurant. The rest claimed not to be aware of any leadership style even though they are leaders. All the participants claimed that they were not aware of transformational leadership is one of the latest leadership styles employed by most organizations. After learning about transformational leadership from the interviewer, all the participants claimed that this form of leadership was the most appropriate for the restaurant. They posited that the leadership style was long overdue and it was the ultimate way through, which the restaurant would achieve its objectives and vision. All the participants claimed that training on transformational leadership ought to target all the members of the management team including the general manager.


From the findings, it was evident that the management team in McDonald’s Kallang had little knowledge about the best leadership styles. Besides, the team employed a transactional leadership style without knowing the potential dangers of using this form of leadership. Rather than motivating and influencing the employees, the leadership style ended up discouraging creativity and promoting individualism in the restaurant. Every employee worked hard to be recognized without considering the benefits attributed to working as a team in an organization. The participants confirmed what was posited in the introduction that employees are rewarded according to their contribution. Failure to use a transformational leadership style in managing the restaurant inhibits the ability of the management team to identify the individual needs of every employee and address them. This is the main reason why the restaurant is not capable of developing its employees since they are given a common training without addressing the particular needs of each employee. The main findings of this research can only be used in coming up with a general conclusion about leadership in McDonald’s Kallang. To come up with a general conclusion on leadership in the fast-food industry, there is a need for the conduction of thorough research in the industry.

Conclusion and recommendation

There is a great need for McDonald’s Kallang to adopt transformational leadership if the management wishes to achieve the restaurant’s vision and improve its competitive advantage. The use of transactional leadership as its management strategy is discouraging creativity and teamwork within the restaurant as every employee wishes to be acknowledged. Besides, the current leadership style inhibits employee development since it is hard for the management staff to identify the needs of the various employees.

The current management team has limited knowledge about the transformational leadership style. To ensure that the restaurant benefits from the numerous benefits associated with this leadership style, the management team must be taken through rigorous training regarding leadership. It is high time that the management team starts involving its employees in making decisions on matters affecting the restaurants and influencing them to adopt the established operation strategies. Furthermore, the management team needs to engage with its employees on an individual level as this would help in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of every employee and help them overcome their weaknesses as well as improve on their strengths.

Critical reflection and learning

From the dissertation, I have learned that transformational leadership not only helps in improving organizational performance but also facilitates cutting down on employee turnover and change resistance. Idealized influence leads to employees trusting in their leaders thus embracing changes implemented in the organization. Moreover, the dissertation proves that rewarding employees based on their performance may not adequately facilitate enhancing their productivity. It is imperative to establish a rewarding system that promotes teamwork. This dissertation is of great significance to McDonald’s Kallang, which currently uses a transactional leadership style. The style inhibits the ability to exploit the potential of its employees.

Time Scale

The success of any research project depends on a proper tie schedule. A researcher must establish a feasible schedule to balance the differing hassles for a time during the study. At times, one may be required to research within a short period. To meet all the requirements, the research requires creating a schedule that outlines all the activities to undertake and at what time. This way, the pollster would be sure of addressing all the issues within the given timeframe. Before establishing a schedule, the researcher needs to come up with a clear set of activities that will take place during the actual research (Tichy, & Devanna 2005, p.105). The activities are supposed to be listed in the order of priority to avoid focusing on trivial activities and leaving the most important ones due to time constraints. When conducting big research within a short period, the researcher may end up not gathering information in all the required areas because of time. Hence, the investigator needs to prioritize activities within his or her schedule to make sure the most crucial activities are tackled within the available time. Here is the schedule for this research project.

Month Activity
0 Introduction
1 Tutorial
Drafting the Dissertation Proposal; Preliminary or first stage literature review
Handing the draft proposal to the supervisor
Amending the draft proposal
Submitting the draft proposal
2 to 21/2 Developing the research interview
21/2 to 3 Identifying participants; arranging for interview sessions; ascertaining venue, date, and time slot
3 to 31/2 Second stage literature review
3 to 31/2 Review of Case studies using new archives (e.g.
31/2to 4 Tutorial
31/2to 4 Conducting interviews
31/2to 4 Conducting discussion and reflection sessions
4 Discussion on Case studies; third stage literature review
5 to 51/2 Compilation of data gathered through interviews. Selection of the method of data analysis to apply
51/2to 6 Data analysis
6 Tutorial
6 Draft dissertation
6 Tutorial
6 Revising and editing the dissertation
Last week of the 6thmonth Submission of the final draft


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Appendix 1

  1. What is the nature of the current leadership style?
  2. Are there challenges encountered when working towards achieving the organizational vision using the current leadership style?
  3. Do employees understand the company’s vision?
  4. What is the management doing to help in achieving this vision?
  5. How does the management team influence and motivate employees to achieve organizational goals?
  6. How many leadership styles do you know?
  7. Are you aware of transformational leadership as one of the leadership styles?
  8. How will transformational leadership help the company achieves its vision?
  9. Which group of employees will the company target in its introduction of transformational leadership?