The major aim of this article was to offer an alternative model of leadership. Leadership has resulted into distrust in organizations and therefore, many have seen the need for a new standard of ethical leadership that Caldwell et al. refer to as ‘transformative leadership’. The transformative leadership model expounds leadership and ethical standards borrowed from other six different styles of leadership. In addition, it adds major moral standards and vital characteristics of every leadership style with moral and virtuous contents. Transformative leadership focuses on the principles of good leadership and strives to meet leadership responsibility through commitment to the interest of all stakeholders and by striving to create long-term sustainable wealth. The article used supporting literature from other academic sources regarding various leadership theories and noted six of the most relevant points that supported transformative leadership model with regard to ethical practices and moral standards. Thus, it demonstrated that transformative leaders possessed each perspective, showed knowledge of ethical foundations and contents of each of the perspectives and provided ten judgment or opinions that academics and professionals could rely on to evaluate these aspects of the transformative leadership model.
Overall, this model of leadership is beyond moral standards and abilities of many leaders. However, leaders can still benefit from high ethical standards and dedication that it demands to create profitable, successful organizations.
This is an executive summary of the article, Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence from Journal of Business Ethics (2012) by Caldwell et al. The summary also highlights key points, views on the contents and real life application by supervisors.
Leadership has resulted into distrust in organizations and therefore, calls have emerged for a new standard of ethical leadership that Caldwell et al. refer to as ‘transformative leadership’. The transformative leadership model focuses on leadership and ethical standards from other six different styles of leadership. In addition, it adds major standards and important characteristics of every leadership style. Transformative leadership focuses on the principles of good leadership and strives to meet leadership responsibility through commitment to the interest of all followers and by aiming to create long-term sustainable wealth. The researchers used supporting materials from academic sources regarding different leadership theories and identified six of the most relevant points that supported transformative leadership. In this case, they showed that transformative leaders possessed each perspective, showed knowledge of ethical foundations and contents of each of the perspectives and provided ten judgment or opinions that academics and professionals could rely on to evaluate these aspects of the transformative leadership model.
The article shows that trust in leaders, based on a past study, is strikingly low with only 7% of workers claiming that managers’ actions were utterly consistent with their message. Today’s business environment is highly competitive and leaders struggle with issues of trust among their followers. Contemporary leaders still depend on old methods of leadership despite the worsening cases of leadership in organizations.
Notwithstanding the available literature on leadership, the practice and study of leadership still face some critical contradictions, inconsistencies and paradoxes and many contemporary leaders are unable to earn trust of the workforce or support from the public. A widespread decline in trust between leaders and their employees exist and it shows the need for a new style of leadership in a world with questionable ethical practices and standards. Hence, there is a need for future leaders to raise their standards, show their characters and meet expectation of the skeptical, complex public.
The aim of this article was to offer an alternative model of transformative leadership. The leadership style is complex, but it will ultimately ensure that leaders integrate best principles to earn trust from workforce and the public. The model of transformative leadership incorporates the best aspects of six highly valued leadership perspectives.
Caldwell et al. (2012) defined transformative leadership as ethically controlled leadership approach that comprises a pledge to values and results by enhancing the long-term interests of stakeholders and the public and respecting the moral duties that organization owe to their various stakeholders (p. 176). This model of leadership reflects the highest standards of moral that leaders should demonstrate to win trust and followers (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 176). A transformative leader has been described as one who ensures that people are involved in action, change followers into leaders and who may transform other leaders into change agents. This model of leadership can be demonstrated in leaders who strive for virtuous results to create additional values, organizational systems that can support and enhance organizational values, eliminate barriers that inhibit goal attainment and impede personal development in people. Based on a transformative leadership model, a contemporary leader should strive for new solutions to myriads of challenges by careful reevaluation of assumptions instead of simply adopting old solutions to resolve emerging challenges. Leaders must reflect benefits in their results to an organization and society.
In organizations, leaders should strive to attain both specific standards or demonstrate values and outcome-oriented results. In addition, they should include organizational values and public responsibilities in organization strategic objectives. A great leader must show superiority in respecting duties and therefore modern leaders should adopt such qualities. Transformative leadership requires moral integrity and demands personal transformation and changes in views about the world. These transformations ensure that a leader can act as “an ethical steward to earn the trust and followership and create effective leadership” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 177).
Caldwell et al. (2012) have identified certain leadership features in the article. Based on these identifications, they have proposed a model of transformative leadership that uses prominent features of six exceptional leadership perspectives, including “transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, level 5 leadership, principle-centered leadership, servant leadership, and covenantal leadership” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 177). The six leadership models and their use to develop transformative leadership have been considered based on ethical foundations of each of the models in organizational services, enhancing change and benefiting all stakeholders.
Transformational leadership promotes teamwork, and leaders must meet their roles and responsibilities owed to employees and organizations. The leadership model is based on moral foundation, and it consists of four other elements, such as “idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 177). These four elements of the model influence followers to “improve on their own personal development as well as improve performance of an organization” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 177).
The consistency between transformative and transformational leadership is captured in two ways (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 177). First, leaders must strive to benefit people within an organization, the organization itself and the public. Such leaders will realize greater gains relative to other leaders who do not focus on these factors. Second, leaders who account for principles of transformational leadership to benefit other parties will be considered as more ethical and trustworthy than other leaders with different styles. In this regard, transformational leadership depicts that leaders must focus on group interests of individual employees and the organization to meet needs of a changing world.
Another leadership perspective evaluated is charismatic leadership, which develops a strong personal relationship between a leader and followers. Such kind of a connection indicates convictions in followers and a leader’s great character, which motivate followers to attain higher goals than expected. In this regard, charismatic leadership and transformative leadership styles relate in leaders who create strong bonds with employees with the aim of pursuing moral obligations. Such leaders attain higher goals than other leaders who do not have personal connection with followers. In addition, charismatic leaders who display clear and motivating set of moral standards will nurture more committed teams than leaders who cannot show such moral principles.
Level 5 leadership integrates a leader’s humility alongside determination and a strong resolve to attain goals that were previously difficult to achieve for an organization. On this note, transformative leadership should adopt unrelenting commitment and dedicated loyalty to organizational interests supported with strong personal humility. The authors offer propositions for transformative leadership (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 178). First, leaders should be dedicated to their organizations, not put self-interests ahead of organizational interests so that they can achieve improved outcomes than other leaders who do not portray these qualities. Second, leaders should give credit to other employees for success but also take personal responsibility for organizational failures. Organizations with such leaders are more profitable relative to other forms of organizations with leaders who lack these attributes.
Principle-centered leadership reflects values and principle foundation for controlling self and respecting relationships with others who perceive leadership as a greatly ethical obligation to obey inherent responsibilities owed to other individuals. Transformative and principle-centered leadership have the following propositions (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 179). First, a leader’s action should conform to values and standards shown as virtuous and consistent with the best interests and values of the community. Such leaders achieve higher financial gains and profits than leaders who lack congruency in their actions. Second, leaders should demonstrate commitment to their stakeholders in order to be “successful and nurture wealth and values ultimately creating more successful organizations than other leaders who do not demonstrate such values and commitment to their stakeholders” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 180).
Conventional leadership shows a leader’s roles as “a role model, a teacher and an exemplar and demonstrates new standards of truth and meaning in relationships with other people in an organization” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 180). Such a leader creates a new meaning to promote a culture of learning in an organization. The leader inspires creativity and creates team synergy to succeed in modern organizations. Transformational leadership seeks for contractual commitment to realize new meaning and clear perceptions through demonstrating selfless acts of commitment, supporting a continuous culture of learning and empowering other employees. Transformative and conventional leadership relate in two ways. First, leaders must strive to establish a continuous learning culture to create “new insights and achieve greater results in their organizations than other leaders who fail to create such a culture” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 181). Second, leaders who depict all six perspectives of transformative leadership are “highly successful and create profitable organizations than other leaders who lack the six attributes of leadership” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 181).
Caldwell et al. (2012) are also critical of their article’s contribution. The new model of leadership is an alternative to current leadership styles used in organizations. Transformative leadership model is ethically conscious and requires a greater adherence. On this note, Caldwell et al. (2012) note that the transformative leadership model exceeds the current abilities and moral principles of many leaders. The authors note the following in their contributions.
First, in this model, leadership is seen from fundamental ethical practices. Hence, it requires contemporary leaders to develop their moral standards, nurture excellence in practices and exceed ‘doing well’. Second, a strong relationship between leaders and stakeholders should be created as personal and should be based on the ability of the leader to relate with other employees on individual basis. Leadership is regarded as a “true relationship that reaches the hearts and souls” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 182) of other people. Third, the authors introduce a concept of Positive Organizational Scholarship literature in transformative leadership specifically to enhance virtuous leadership in an organization. Positive Organizational Scholarship has extensive literature that focus on how leaders can strengthen the message that they have to increase their standards rapidly as they seek for new ones. Lastly, Caldwell et al. (2012) support the idea that the chief state of leadership is both challenging to attain and highly demanding. The new leadership model offers an opportunity for leaders to focus on their followers and organizations rather than themselves. It is externally directed, open to needs of others, result-oriented instead of internal and comfort-centered attributes. While it is generally acknowledged that leaders must realize greater profits and organizational outcomes, they must work with others to achieve and realize these outcomes. They require strong collaboration, shared commitment, mutual respect and trust and systems that strengthen the preferred values.
Caldwell et al. (2012) have realized that their leadership model is beyond abilities and moral standards of several contemporary leaders. On this note, the authors claim that they have no illusion that majorities will perceive transformative leadership has anything other than “idealistic, unrealistic and impractical” (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 182). However, Caldwell et al. (2012) have shown that many scholars have asserted that leadership practices of yesterday are no longer effective for emerging organizational needs of tomorrow.
Caldwell et al. (2012) believe that the transformative leadership model can be applied but with challenges, of course. Modern organizations are complex and there is a growing leadership crisis in the face of a dynamic world, which requires effective change management. On this note, leadership can be demonstrated through effective leading of stakeholders. Transformative leadership focuses on (1) a long-term sustainable wealth creation, (2) balanced goal attainment on both standard and relevance priorities, and (3) it needs leaders to show that they understand themselves and duties they owe to followers, organization and society.
Overall, it is imperative to recognize that transformative leadership model is difficult to achieve in practice. Nevertheless, its position on ethical standards and dedication to virtuousness are relevant ideals in any organizations and are most likely to have deeper impacts on stakeholders and society with excellent results. Therefore, leaders or supervisors who wish to challenge their leadership abilities and lead their team and organizations to greatness should adopt transformative leadership model.
Caldwell, C., Dixon, R. D., Floyd, L. A., Chaudoin, J., Post, J., & Cheokas, G. (2012). Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence. Journal of Business Ethics, 109, 175–187. Web.