Charismatic leaders exercise a unique leadership style that is characterised by their influence on followers using their leadership traits, special knowledge, and skills to realise their organisations or people’s objectives and goals. Charismatic leaders provide solutions to their people’s issues while at the same time comforting their followers through their persuasive powers and inspiring hope.
Charismatic leaders are also stirring when it comes to their systematic approach to people’s problems. Awareness creation and information provision are among other characteristics of charismatic leaders (Waldman & Balven 2014). Although charismatic leaders always seek to gather information, they lead the opinion of their followers, as opposed to transactional leaders who have to exchange opinions with their followers before arriving at a collective solution (Bauer 2015).
Followers seek clarification and understanding of various important issues from such leaders. Charismatic leaders persuade the followers through their skills, traits, dressing, self-proclamation, and access to information. Followers trust such leaders as having more knowledge, experience, and better judgement on issues. Foresight is also believed to be a major characteristic of charismatic leaders (Latham 2014).
It is through being visionary that charismatic leaders project the next cause of action for the followers. This trait is different from transformational leaders’ approach since they use the current situation or problem to derive the best way of changing the situation. Through their persuasion, foresight, and healing skills, charismatic leaders intervene in a crisis by encourage teamwork among followers (Tyssen, Wald & Spieth 2013).
McCleskey (2014) presents transformational leadership style a change-oriented headship. It involves a clear-cut direction that the leader wants the followers to take to achieve a specified goal. Similar to charismatic heads, transformational leaders utilise charismatic approaches to issues. Transformational leaders are creative thinkers. They have a clear sense of direction. Fein et al. (2015) declare charismatic leaders inspirational.
Whenever transformational leaders face a challenge, they develop a course of action and hope in the hearts and minds of the followers through their speech. Transformational leaders also use intellectual stimulation to encourage their followers to develop new approaches to solution search. In such efforts, transformational leaders come up with a master plan on where the issue is and which interventions will be deployed. Similar to charismatic leaders, transformational leaders pay personal attention to individual members of their followership (Harrison & Murray 2012).
One unique characteristic that distinguishes transformational from charismatic leadership style is that in the effort to change their people’s lives, transformational leaders listen to their followers before addressing their issues at a personal level (Latham 2014). Transformational leaders also lead through examples. They position themselves as figures that their followers can emulate. Revolutionary leaders empower their followers by developing knowledge and skills that are necessary for the tasks to be accomplished. Such leaders also command respect, trust, and loyalty of their followers (Fein et al. 2015). Since transformational leadership involves a clear sense of direction, the leader encourages creative and innovative thinking in solving problems.
According to McCleskey (2014), one distinguishing characteristic of transactional leadership is that it is driven by goal achievement through power, reward, and punishment. Contrary to charismatic and transformational leadership, the relationship between the leader and followers is like a business transaction where followers demonstrate an exchange connection. For example, they vote for leaders on the condition that they will implement development projects. If the elected leaders fail to honour their pledges, the followers oust them.
Another special characteristic of transactional leadership is that the management style that a particular leader employs is monitored by the followership in a bid to evaluate whether it is directing the followers towards the achievement of the set goals. Transactional leaders are also keen on who puts them in the position of power so that they can reward them accordingly (Berger 2014). This leadership style is dependent on the followers. Leaders work hard to fulfil their promises to the followers to retain their positions. Rewards go to those who honour their role in the transaction.
Three Behaviours that Should be included in the Transformational Theory
Yukl (1999) reveals three behaviours that should be included in the transformational theory of leadership. Inspiring, developing, and empowering are presented as the components that define the power-sharing behaviour of the transformational presumption at the dyadic position. Yukl (1999) asserts that the foundational processes in transformational leadership cannot be firm without the contribution of power. The process of problem identification and policy compliance should be included in this theory for clarity.
The second behaviour that should be included in transformational theory at the group capacity is ‘facilitating the agreement about objectives and strategies, facilitating mutual trust and cooperation, and building group identification and collective efficacy’ (Yukl 1999, p. 290). Transformation should not just emphasise dyadic interaction, but the larger group or organisation that a leader wants to influence (Waldman & Balven 2014).
For instance, it should influence work/group organisation, coordination of fused or related groups in work, the concurrence of group members with objectives, collaboration and trust among members, effectiveness of group members, resource efficiency, and influence of outside forces in the coordination of activities that are directed towards goal attainment (Yukl 1999).
All these organisational process behaviour should be included in explanations of the transformational theory of leadership. The third behaviour that forms part of transformational leadership at the institutional position is the ‘articulation of a vision and a strategy for the organisation, guiding and facilitative change, and promoting organisational learning’ (Yukl, 1999, p. 290).
There is a need for the transformational theory to focus transformational processes not only on inductive procedures but also on various specified developmental processes that this behaviour demonstrates (Berger 2014). The explanations of these processes in the transformational leadership theory overlap. Hence, it becomes almost impossible to draw a line between them. According to Chemers (2000), transformational leadership theory should include the process of developing and mentoring a particular behaviour in line with the objectives of the organisation and that of the leader.
Yukl’s Criticism of the Current Theory of Transactional Leadership
According to Yukl (1999), the underlying processes in transactional leadership are still vague. The transactional leadership does not clearly define the terms of transactions and the clear lines of rewards and punishment. It is impossible to know who will be rewarded, when, why, by who, and for what duration. This gap makes the processes of reward and punishment that the transactional leadership is based on blurred. There should be empirical ways and methods of measuring and quantifying the terms of rewards and punishment if the transactional leadership is to remain valid.
My Personal Theory of Leadership
My leadership adopts the situational or contingency approach. Situational leadership theory is adjustable, dynamic, and can fit in any space. Situational theory dictates that the adopted leadership behaviour must suit the situation (McCleskey 2014). The theory enables the elimination of flaws in different situations that other leadership theories seem to fail. The leadership style that I adopt in a particular task depends on various predisposing factors that are at hand, not necessarily the traits of the leader, rewards, or punishment. Therefore, my leadership focuses on the goals and objectives at hand (Storsletten & Jakobsen 2015). The affiliation between the boss and the supporters is also pegged on the immediate task.
- One person I think is a good example of a leader is our school captain at Mountain Top High school
- The attitude of our school captain is marked by persistence. He behaves in a foresighted manner by focusing on a particular goal
- One person I work with who does not have leadership qualities is our church chair. He is always hands-off and is indecisive when handling tasks.
- Leaders are made. Most of the leadership traits and skills can be learned and unlearned. For instance, one can learn to be forthright, visionary, committed to influencing people, and/or to reward and punish.
- One person I think is a good example of a leader is our Public Relations Officer (PRO) at the Coca-Cola Company.
- The attitude of our (PRO) is characterised by his dynamism. He behaves in a diligent manner.
- One person I work with who does not have leadership qualities is my Human Resource Manager (HRM). She always dictates tasks to the workforce.
- Leaders are made since most of the leadership skills can be trained through education or experience.
- One person I think is a good example of a leader is our my Unit Manager (Britam Insurance)
- The attitude of our Unit Manager is charismatic, and he behaves in an inspirational manner that we all admire.
- One person I work with who does not have leadership qualities is my Branch Manager (BM). He is always arguing with the unit managers and employees over unaccomplished tasks.
- Leaders are both born and made. Most of the leadership skills can be inherited and run through family lines such as having a desire to lead honestly. Others can be trained through education or experience, for example being far-sighted.
From the Replies
Person A reflects a transformational leadership. To person A, leadership is about persistence and foresight as depicted in transformational leadership. Failure to be focused on tasks means lack of leadership skills. Person B reflects situational leadership. To person B, good leadership is about being dynamic and adaptable to different situations and tasks (Harrison & Murray 2012). Failure to change with situations means poor leadership. Person C reflects transformational leadership. To person C, leadership is about charisma and influence (Storsletten & Jakobsen 2015). Failure to be admirable by the followers and being argumentative means that a leader has failed.
The leadership theory that is commonly being referred to is transformational because 2 of the 3 interviewees cited various characteristics of transformational leadership. For instance, person A cited foresight/visionary traits while person C cited charisma and influence.
My Personal Theory
My personal theory is situational. It does not match with the transformational theory that is discussed in (b) above. The transformational theory is characterised by charisma, inspiration, personal attention, and intellectual stimulation. On the other hand, situational leadership theory is characterised by the adaptability of a leadership style to the situation and task. Different situations call for different leadership approaches.
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