Transformational Leadership Versus Charismatic Leadership

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No one can deny that effective leadership is essential in every organization, especially in the military. Every military commander is concerned with how a single person can lead a hundred people. Yukl (1999) states that in the 1970s, behavioral theories of efficiency in leadership were prominent, such as normative decision theory (1973), path-goal theory (1974) and LMX theory (1975). Since the late 1980s, transformational leadership theory and charismatic leadership theory have been ascendant.

Traditional leadership theories highlighted rational methods, but theories of transformational and charismatic leadership indicated emotion and values. Moreover, newer theories also recognize the significance of symbolic behavior and the leader’s role in creating occurrences which are meaningful for followers (Yukl,1999). These theories analyze how a leader can manipulate followers to create self-sacrifices, engage in challenging goals and accomplish much more than anticipated initially.

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According to Bass (1985) transformation leaders inspire and encourage followers to exceed the expectations of performance by shaping the beliefs and attitudes of followers. On the other hand, charismatic leadership is highlighted in terms of the extent to which leaders influence followers and the type of leadership-follower relationship emerging (Conger, 1989; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; House, 1977; Shamir et al., 1993).

Effective leadership is essential because it generates trust among an organization’s members and promotes a professional and beneficial situation. Rationale: What do you hope to achieve/discover?? This essay will compare and evaluate Transformational and Charismatic Leadership theories and exemplify a case study of Winston S. Churchill and Adolf Hitler, the two most influent leaders during the second world war. Firstly, the essay will give a definition of both leadership theories; secondly, Transformational Leadership theory and Charismatic Leadership theory will be compared and evaluated and finally, it will give a case study analysis of Winston S. Churchill and Adolf Hitler’s leadership styles.


Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is defined primarily in terms of the effect of the leader on his/her followers, and the behavior used to achieve this effect. The followers feel confidence, admiration, loyalty, and respect for the leader, and are motivated to do more than they originally expected. In terms of motivating supporters, the underlying impact mechanism is defined by making them more conscious of the significance of job results and encouraging them to transcend their own self-interest for the organization’s sake (Bass,1985,1996).

Yukl (1999) states that transformation leadership positively links to leadership efficiency indices such as subordinate satisfaction, motivation and efficiency. In a meta-analytical review of 39 studies using the multifactor leadership questionnaire by Lowe, Kroeck, and Sivasubramaniam (1996), it was discovered that subordinate satisfaction and performance were favorably associated with essential components of transformation leadership.

However, several authors have observed the possibility that transformative leadership may have negative results for followers or organization. Harrison (1987) argues that followers can convert to such a significant degree of emotional participation in the job that extended stress ‘burns out’ over time. Individual leaders may exploit followers to create a high degree of emotional involvement when it is not necessary. Leaders who create robust identification with their subunit and target may enhance member motivation, but there may be excessive competition among various subunits of the organization.

Charismatic leadership

The theory of charismatic leadership was described in term of the level of leadership influences followers and the form of leadership-follower interaction that arises. Conger and Kanungo (1987,1998) highlight that the key behaviors in this theory articulating an innovative strategic vision, demonstrating sensitivity to the requirements of individuals, demonstrating unconventional behavior, taking personal risks and showing environmental sensitivity (identifying limitations, threats and possibilities).

Most charismatic theories highlight follower attributions to the leader of exceptional qualities. Conger and Kanungo (1987,1998) point out that the attributions are determined collectively by leadership features, subordinates and circumstances. In contrast, Houes (1977) and Shamir and association (1993) have described charismatic leadership in terms of how the leader affects followers’ attitudes and motivation, regardless of whether adherents consider the leader to be exceptional.

There is a need for more clarity and consistency in the definition and use of the word charismatic. The most meaningful definition seems to be in terms of charisma attributions to a leader by followers who identify positively with the leader. This definition retains charisma’s original meaning and offers a basis for distinguishing between charismatic leadership and transformation leadership.

Compare and evaluate

This table compares characteristics of transformational leadership and charismatic leadership.

Transformational leadership

  • Leader inspires change to get things done through his vision and passion.
  • Leader is open to feedback and participation from supporters.
  • Vision fulfillment including follower and vision of the leader.
  • Transformational leaders may emerge at distinct levels of the organization.
  • Behavior targeted at promoting teamwork and sharing aims.

Charismatic leadership

  • Leader affects followers with the dint of personality and charm.
  • Leader is the ‘head of the show’.
  • Vision fulfillment by exposing followers to the vision of the leader.
  • Charismatic leaders are more likely to emerge in crisis situations.
  • Behavior targeted at leader-driven golds and promoting followers ‘ emotions of obedience and dependence.

On the other hand, the most important conceptual issues for transformation and charismatic leadership is how similar and compatible they are. Bass (1985) stated that charisma is an essential element of transformative leadership, but he mentioned that sometimes, a leader could be charismatic without being transformative. However, several writers have indicated that a leader without being charismatic can be transformative. Moreover, some authors even proposed the option that the two kinds of leadership might be incompatible (Yukl, 1999).

The level of the relationship between charismatic and transformational leadership is a conceptual and empirical question. Yukl (1997) propose that there is little reason to expect that transformational leadership’s core behaviors will automatically result in charisma attributed. Indeed, the development and empowerment of behaviors connected with transformation leadership appear to make it less likely that followers will attribute exceptional characteristics to the leader. The more successful the leader is in developing and empowering followers, the less dependent for future advice and inspiration they will be on the leader. Some uncommon facilitating circumstances seem to be essential for the attribution of exceptional skills by a significant proportion of followers. For example, an uncommon situation that can only be exploited by the leader. Furthermore, the leader may also need to participate in certain behaviors which are not considered transformational such as impression management, radical change advocacy and uses of chancy non-traditional behaviors to promote change.

When charisma attributions happen for a transformation leader, it is unlikely that they will continue for a long time without the leader sustaining circumstances and active attempts to preserve a heroic picture. For example, a leader who helped the organization deal with a severe crisis or attained an important goal that was not considered initially possible. Followers may regard the leader as a hero with outstanding ability, but charisma attributions are likely to dissipate as a result of evolving conditions and the leaders’ attempts to discourage them such as crediting team success, sharing the unique knowledge, avoiding the limelight and increasing influence. If so, the followers will still have great respect for the leader, but charisma and intensive personal identification will not be attributed (Yukl,1997).

Winston S. Churchill

During the 1940s and 1950s, Winston Churchill exhibited essential leadership abilities during his reign as Britain’s prime minister. Lim (2015) highlights that Winston Churchill depicted several charismatic and transformational leader’s characteristics, traits and behaviors. His charismatic characteristics of leadership empowered him to embrace a vision and focus on the larger image that permitted him to claim victory for his country. Churchill was able to perform his missions democratically and not as a dictator of totalitarianism. To be an incredible leader, he needs to have strong communication skills. When most of Britain was in desperation, he excelled and encouraged individuals to have faith in him through his inspiring speeches.

Many people admired Churchill for this outgoing and charismatic personality. In term of transformational leadership, it is a process that often involves charismatic and visionary leadership (Northouse, 2015). Many phrases can be used to define him. “He recognized that without transparency, there is no trust. Letting his feelings show in an appropriate capacity he was emotionally intelligent and didn’t hold back. His ability to seek the truth and stick by the truth earned him dedication of the public.” (Center for Work Life, 2014). Churchill has always been honest and truthful, and it was what the people and society needed during that time. He gained their trust by being confident and clear with them, and this left him extremely regarded. Moreover, Churchill was able to make critical decisions and take action to take care the people.


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