Over a period of time positive correlation has been found between effective leadership and growth as well as performance of both individuals and organizations. There are different styles into which leaders’ behaviors can be classified. However, there is no best style of leadership. The characteristics of the three contemporary leadership styles namely, transformational, transactional and charismatic leadership styles will be discussed in the article.
The term “transformational leadership” was first coined by J.V. Downtown in Rebel Leadership: Commitment and Charisma in a Revolutionary Process (1973). A person with this leadership style is able to leverage and develop the potential of his or her team members. These leaders have a compelling vision which is easy to relate to. They also become role models as well as an inspiration for their subordinates as their behavior has conviction which is very appealing to others. They help their team members overcome limitations by motivating them to change for the better. The vision is built in a way that it is not conflicting with the interests and needs of the others are also met. Thus, the focus is on inclusive and holistic development. However, in the process of growth and development the ethics are never compromised upon and transparency is maintained leading to trust.
Transactional leaders use the power that their position gives them. Such leaders believe in the “carrot & stick” approach and use rewards and punishments to get things done. Tools like performance ratings, recognition, appreciation are commonly used to motivate the subordinates. Thus, on one hand, the leader uses his authority to get things done; on the other hand, provides different means to fulfill the needs of their team members. The leader either rewards his compliance or punishes non-compliance. The focus is not on involving the subordinates in achieving the goals rather on getting things done from them. The approach followed is that of give and take aimed at achieving short term objectives. The approach used is managerial in nature involving telling instead of including and taking everyone along.
Another leadership style is charismatic style. As the term suggests, the leaders with this style influence others using their natural charm and differentiating traits. They have a unique vision, are high on self-confidence and are known for using unconventional approaches. Their aura and charming personality is what attracts others to them and helps them gather. They rely of charm rather than power, for influence. Such people are far from being oblivious of their environment and they use this knowledge to modify their actions and words to suit the situation. These leaders also exhibit greater confidence in their team members and build trust through visible self- sacrifice. This helps them garner support.
All the three styles discussed above have their pros and cons. The different approaches are adopted by different styles. There might be situations where one style may be more effective than the others and no best leadership style stands out. One focuses on taking everyone along, one on using compliance, structures, mechanisms and adherence to rules and one uses charm to gather supporters. An effective leader is one who is able to flex between these styles as the situations demand.
Mittal, R. (2014) Leadership personal effectiveness and team building. India: Dorling Kindersley Pvt. Ltd.