For decades many leadership scholars suggested that Transformational Leadership was the magic bullet for Optimal Leadership. However, classical management theorists support the idea of Transactional Leadership as the best way to get what you want out of workers. Let’s explore the underpinnings of the two variegated views.
The subject of vigorous debate and the focus of continual research, Transformational Leadership sought to cause a metamorphosis in the very form and nature of followers. It suggested a change in the very condition or nature of a thing, a change into another substance, a radical change in outward form or inner character. Early researcher James McGregor Burns offered an excellent metaphor…that of a frog that is transformed into a prince or a carriage maker into an auto factory.
By contrast, the theory of Transactional Leadership does not promote this type of change in the inner character, instead it appeals to the basest nature of humanity…self interests. In other words, you pay me and I will show up to work, if you do not pay me, all bets are off. This leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to the idea of motivation. So I inquire of my readers, what example do we have for optimal leadership? I believe a great place to start is found in antiquity.
Jesus Christ demonstrated Transactional Leadership in Matthew 16:17 when he ratifies the blessing upon the Apostle Peter after receiving the correct answer that indeed He is the Christ. The situation yielded an opportunity for the exchange of personal benefit to Peter, but also an affirmation of Jesus as the Christ.
Jesus demonstrated Transformational Leadership in John 4: 39-42 by changing the heart and mind of one woman; whereby she directed her energy and verbal testimony to transform the thoughts and beliefs of an entire town. Jesus masterfully wielded both types of variegated leadership styles to the benefit of his followers and the reinforcement of His vision for a preferred future. I would say that is Optimal Leadership in radical fashion….What are some examples of optimal leadership that you have experienced?