What is the difference between transformational and transactional leadership?


Quick Answer

Transformational leadership inspires followers to be more productive, according to About.com, and transactional leadership is a hierarchical relationship between the leader and the follower, according to Changing Minds. In a business or political environment, transformational leadership fosters active participation and creativity among subordinates.

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Full Answer

Transactional leaders focus on established tasks. These usually take the form of a directive from a supervisor to an employee. The employee has a policy to follow that decides the way in which the employee completes the task. This allows for greater control by the supervisor of a project. It also ensures continuity of the development of tasks between different employees. The supervisor relays information, and the employee follows precisely. A criticism of transactional leadership is that it does not allow for change to occur within the company culture leading to greater efficiency. Transformational leadership seeks to counter the transactional approach with the inclusion of employees in the decision-making process. It requires active listening and employees to work with some independence. Supervisors build relationships with employees to encourage employees to actively participate in company development.

According to Cornell University Human Resources, women tend to exhibit characteristics of transformational leadership more than men. Transformational leadership relies heavily upon social skills for success.

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