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Leadership Perspectives: Transactional and Transformational


Transformational and transactional leadership theories represent two most popular approaches to leadership. Transactional leadership is the most widespread as far as it is connected with the organization of the working process, goal setting, and extrinsic motivation. The aim of the transformational leader is to promote intrinsic motivation. Transformational leaders pay attention to emotions and inspiration of followers. These two perspectives of leadership share some common features with trait theory of leadership, skills approach, and behavioral perspective. Transactional leadership is preferred when it is necessary to supervise employees and facilitate job performance while transformational leadership is effective for long-term motivation, increasing of job satisfaction, and emotional intelligence. In the following paper, the relations between transactional and transformational perspectives with other theories will be evaluated. Then, situations, when a particular approach to leadership is advisable, will be described.

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Relation of Transformational and Transactional Leadership Perspectives

Trait Theory

Supporters of trait theory of leadership state that leaders are born. Thus, leaders possess a set of particular distinctive features that make them unique. According to the trait theory of leadership, all leaders share common physical, mental, and social characteristics (Leadership-Central, 2011). Although there is a particular theory devoted to charisma, most theorists agree that charisma belongs to one of the traits of leaders. According to Gupta (2009), all transformational leaders are charismatic.

Skills Approach

While trait theory of leadership pays particular attention to leader’s personality, skill approach presupposes that leader should have special abilities and knowledge. Three primary groups of skills are usually distinguished including human, technical, and conceptual skills. Nowadays, scientists emphasize the significance of emotional skills that derive from the emotional intelligence of the individual. According to Lindebaum and Cartwright (2010), the efficiency of transformational leadership depends on emotional intelligence drastically as far as transformational leaders have to understand and coordinate personal and personnel’s emotions.

Behavior Perspective

Theorists of behavioral approaches believe that behaviors predetermine leadership style. According to this perspective, leaders’ behavior may be aimed at working with tasks or with people (Leadership-Central, 2011). This division is relevant to transformational and transactional leadership. Transformational leaders work with people and their emotions while transactional leaders concentrate on tasks (Leadership Champions, 2008).

Preference of Transformational or Transactional Leadership

Depending on circumstances, transformational or transactional leadership may be preferred. Health care system comprises of the variety of departments, professional groups. Transactional leadership is necessary to organize the efficient performance and promote the collaboration via goal setting and supervision. Nevertheless, transformational leadership may be required for long-term aims in health care. Long-term objectives can be achieved if the whole organization has a collective vision, and all employees are motivated (Al-Sawai, 2013).

Examples of Effectiveness of Leadership Styles

Both transformational and transactional leadership styles are of great significance for organizations. For instance, the desire of staff to stay at work often depends on the leadership style. Thus, Hamstra, Yperen, Wisse, and Sassenberg (2011) have found out that transformational leaders promote the desire to work in promotion-focused followers while transactional leaders enhance intention to stay in prevention-focused individuals. Danforth, Doying, Merceron, and Kennedy (2010) emphasized that when it comes to the community-based pandemic planning, there is a need for the organization, coordination, and efficient management. Transactional leaders can handle such situations. According to Weberg (2010), transformational leadership proves its success when there is a need to reduce the number of burnouts of nurses in healthcare systems.


Both transformational and transactional leadership perspectives have definite connections with trait theory, skills approach, and behavioral perspective. Also, transformational leadership is preferred for a long-term motivation of employee while transactional is useful for the organization of work in health care systems.

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Al-Sawai, A. (2013). Leadership of Healthcare Professionals. Oman Medical Journal, 28(4), 285-287.

Danforth, J., Doying, A., Merceron, G., & Kennedy, L. (2010). Applying social science and public health methods to community-based pandemic planning. Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, 4(4), 375–390.

Gupta, A. (2009). Transformational leadership. Practical management: Designing a better workplace. Web.

Hamstra, M., Yperen, N., Wisse, B., & Sassenberg, K. (2011). Transformational-transactional leadership styles and followers’ regulatory focus: Fit reduces followers’ turnover intentions. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 10(4), 182–186.

Leadership-Central. (2011). Leadership theories. Web.

Leadership Champions. (2008). Transactional Leadership vs. Transformational Leadership. Web.

Lindebaum, D., & Cartwright, S. (2010). A critical examination of the relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership. Journal of Management Studies, 47(7), 1317–1342.

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Weberg, D. (2010). Transformational leadership and staff retention: An evidence review with implications for healthcare systems. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 34(3), 246–258.

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