Transformational VS. Transactional Leadership-
Insights from a TrainUp.com SME Dr. Ed J. Shelton, PhD.
There are lots of leadership approaches in today’s expansive business world. Every corporation has its culture, its policies, and their own way of managing their internal workforce. Sometimes an employee policy works, and sometimes it needs a little help and vision. We here at TrainUp have a unique exposure to various gurus, theorists, and leadership evangelists within our network, all whom work tirelessly to communicate the visualization of a more community-based style of leadership. Most recently, I have had the opportunity to read about the concept of Transformational Leadership, in a publication by the very knowledgeable Dr. Edward Shelton, P.H.D.
The concept of transformational Leadership is brought to us by Dr. Ed Shelton in his book Transformational Leadership-Trust, Motivation, Engagement. TrainUp.com has had the pleasure of working with Dr. Shelton many times as he is part of our network of talented subject matter experts. With memorable quotes such as “don’t slap the dolphin-they will never perform again”, and “people leave their bosses, not their company”, I found Dr. Shelton’s book to be both informative yet incredibly relatable. It’s a concept both cerebral and down-to-earth, it is sophisticated yet basic. It is rational, modern, and openly accessible to all those willing to develop their leadership skills and managerial tact.
Dr. Shelton begins by comparing transformational leadership as an alternative to the style currently adopted by most managers, known as transactional leadership. He does include a disclaimer that not all industries should disregard transactional leadership, such as nuclear power plants, as the disciplinary actions and decisive consequences used in this leadership style application may be key to maintaining safety protocols and procedures. However in environments such as corporate partnerships and organizations, Transformational leadership can be safely tested.
Dr. Shelton Explains, “Transformational Leadership provides a creative environment, motivation and opportunity to apply skills in a way that benefits their [employees] needs as well as the organizations.” He also highlights the fact that, “researchers have linked Transformational Leadership with team building effectiveness and group performance.”
So how does Transformational leadership work? And how does it differ from Transactional leadership?
Dr. Shelton states this rather simply, “Transformational leadership is a partnership to reach a higher level of motivation, trust, engagement and empowerment. Transactional leadership is based on rules and transactions using rewards rather than inspiration and self-choice.”
Therefore, to enact a more transformation leadership approach, a manager must use both head and heart. That’s not to say that they should become soft, but rather that they become more aware and empathetic of their staff, and learn how to motivate them and boost their abilities in better, more intellectually stimulating ways. Dr. Shelton believes in challenging employees to allow them to grow and become more of a free-thinking asset to the organization, simultaneously they will be more fulfilled and pleased with a sense of community, recognized contribution, and growing roles.
This idea is not entirely new, this approach has pre-existing roots communicated by James Burns in 1978, and much research has come about since then on this methodology. After many years, it is being brought back into the light with modern research in Dr. Shelton’s book, and it is a must-read for any struggling manager. This leadership style has been adopted by many well-known companies such as Google, Walt Disney, and GE.
If you possess a willingness to try a new way of thinking within the realm of organizational development, then I highly recommend reading about this fascinating and incredibly relevant methodology.
If you would like to learn more about how you can implement these ideas into your organization, would like to become a more transformational leader, feel that you would benefit from in-person coaching, or would like Dr. Shelton to speak at your event, then contact TrainUp.com today!