Transformational Leadership: Leadership for Education
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 1 Transformational Leadership: Leadership for Education Su Tuan Lulee Professor: Dr. Martha Cleveland-Innes Prepared for Assignment 1 EDDE 804: Leadership and Project Management in Distance Education Ed. D., Athabasca University February 5, 2011
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 2 Abstract Different kinds of leadership theories have been proposed over time such as trait-basedleadership, emergent leadership, contingency leadership, complexity leadership, transactionalleadership, transformational leadership, and distributed leadership. Each theory has its influence andvalue in an era in certain contexts. This paper argues that transformational leadership is the mostsuitable style for leading formal academic institutions structured with the official internal and externalhierarchies. The argument is supported by (1) the moral foundation of the transformational leadership;(2) proven validity from previous studies; and (3) evidences from the practices of the educationalleaders. Key words: transformational leadership theory, educational leadership
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 3 Transformational Leadership During the past few decades, great organizational, societal and cultural changes have occurred.Globalization and technology have caused a reorganization of the supply-chain and worker-chain with anaccompaniment of new forms of learning and knowledge sharing (Latchem & Hanna, 2001a). Free andwide-spread information on the Internet challenges the traditional authority and the control overknowledge of educators and leaders in administration as well as the way teachers and students interactin the institutions. People are encouraged to question authority when necessary. The concept of “goingbeyond one’s interests for the good of the organization” is no longer accepted unconditionally (Bass,1999). The changes and challenges led to various explorations on leadership theory in seeking foreffective leadership models for the new era in which people ask for changes but do not have a clear trackfor doing that. Leadership theories such as transformational leadership, distributed leadership, andcomplexity leadership have been developed in an attempt to describe the new phenomena, predict whatwill happen, and suggest strategies for effective leadership. Transformational leadership theory amongall the existing theories is the one that underscores the importance of changing the mindset of thesubordinators, building trust for the willingness to internalize organizational values, and encourage thefollower to become the leader. In today’s fast-changing environment of education, the problems peopleconfront often did not exist before. There is a greater need for everyone to respond to one’s uniqueproblems properly and timely instead of waiting for instructions from the supervisors. Transformationalleadership is needed for facilitating the capability.Transactional Leadership vs. Transformational Leadership Transformational leadership has been introduced after the research on behavioral leadershipsuch as great-man leadership and trait-based leadership that assumed that leadership is rooted in thecharacteristics that certain individuals possess. James Burns (1978) first introduced two types of
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 4leadership styles: transactional and transformational leadership. Most of the traditional leaderships aretransactional leadership in which the leader and the follower work together under informal contracts.The leader gives instructions to the follower about what they need to do and provides rewards when thefollower completes the instruction. The leader and the follower exchange resources to meet their ownself-interests. Distinct from transactional leadership, transformational leaders aim at inducing positivechange in individuals through articulating vision of the future that can be shared with peers andsubordinators, inspiring subordinators’ motivation, intellectually stimulate subordinates, and pay highattention to individual differences among people (Bass, 1999; Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996).The transformational leadership approach uplifts the morale, motivation, and morals of their followerswith the end goal of developing the follower into a leader (Bass, 1999). Educators usually have higher academic qualification than the average people in their society.They are expected to be intelligent while playing roles as moral models. Leading an institution that ismainly formed by a group of educators to fulfill the missions of education requires a values-drivenapproach (Latchem & Hanna, 2001b). Aitkin (1998) and Bass (1999) argued that if the power of theeducational leaders is to be used effectively, the leader (vice-chancellor) must “have a sense of mission,an agenda, a vision … those attributes need to come from inside, not from the university itself … fromreflection and from one’s personal values.” (Aitkin, 1998, p. 123) Latchem and Hanna (2001c) alsohighlighted that educational leaders should see themselves as educators who are capable of enablingother team members to acquire and exercise the leadership skills. Drawing on these view points,educational leaders can only achieve real and lasting commitment to change by adopting more oftransformational leadership approach and less transactional leadership approach. As noted by Sir JohnDaniel: “I believe that a leader should spend more time crating meaning for people than makingdecisions for them.” (Daniel, 2001. p. 143)
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 5Other Leadership Theories vs. Transformational Leadership Theory Theories for emergent leadership and other leaderships based on the contingency theory haveshared a common assumption that there is no single correct leadership for all contexts and the bestleadership is defined by external factors such as the characteristics of the subordinators, the type ofwork and the stress level in the organization. This situational perspective for adopting leadership hasinfluenced almost all modern theories of leadership (Envision Software, Inc., 2011 Jan. 21) includingtransformational leadership. However, emergent leadership and other styles of leadership based oncontingency theory focus more on the leader’s ability to diagnose the competence and commitment ofthe subordinators and respond accordingly (Latchem & Hanna, 2001b) without stressing the importanceof internal factors such as ideal, vision, mission, value, or motivation and individualized concerns. Animportant constituent of educational leadership is missing from the leaderships with situationalperspective. The same limitation exists in distributed leadership. Distributed leadership approach wasdeveloped around four central ideas – leadership tasks and functions, task-enactment, social distributionof task-enactment, and situational distribution of task-enactment (Spillane, 2004). The main examinationof distributed leadership is its practice distributed over leaders, followers and their situation andincorporates the activities of multiple groups of individuals.” (Spillane, 2004) The ideal influence of theleadership has not been brought to the up front of the theory. Another theory of leadership that was introduced lately is that of complexity leadership theory.Complexity leadership theory considers leadership to be a system function that enables adaptive actionin complex adaptive systems. This theory could be powerful in describing the leadership occurs ininformal learning environment such as self-organized learning communities and open learning. It is notthe intension of complexity leadership theory to describe the leadership in formal learning in official
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 6academic institutions that has official internal and external hierarchies on which this paper focuses.The Importance of Moral Function This paper argues that transformational leadership is more suitable for educational institutionsthan the other leadership theories on the basis of three viewpoints: (1) the moral foundation oftransformational leadership; (2) proven validity from previous studies; and (3) evidences from thepractices of the educational leaders. I will elaborate these three viewpoints in the following paragraphs. The underlying philosophy for participating in education, either as an educator or a student, isthe assumption that the capability of an individual is not solely inherent - individual has the ability tolearn. Through education, the abilities of an individual will grow. The higher the abilities grow, the betterthe choices an individual can make. An individual can obtain greater power of control over one’s ownfuture through education. This is the belief that makes education worthwhile. The approach oftransformational leadership takes the assumption that people can and are willing to learn. Leaders aretherefore should communicate the values and visions with their subordinators and intellectuallystimulate their motivation so that the latter become willing to align self-interests with the organization’sinterests, internalize its values, and commit to the delivery of the missions. In addition, transformationalleadership theory highlights the necessity for the moral character of leaders and their concerns for selfand others, the morality of the processes of social ethical choices and action in which the leaders andfollowers engage and collectively pursue (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999). These are all essential qualities forleading educational institutions. Transformational leaders, in contrast to purely charismatic leaders who lead followers byinvoking blind obedience, discourage followers and facilitate the followers to become leaders. Whenindividuals have increased their intelligence and decision-making ability, they have also increased theircapability for taking actions to advance the quality of the group. Moreover, when the individuals have
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 7more power of control, the morality of process would be advanced and further support the distributivejustice that specify what individuals owe each other, what individuals owe to the group and what groupsowe to individuals. It follows that everyone has a kind of moral standing and the interests of at least aminimum of altruism to help stakeholders to recognize the obvious benefits in fulfilling their goals. Forthis, transformational leadership is needed in educational institution on which a moral foundation oflegitimate values must rest.Validity Transformational leadership style as a construct has been examined by several scholars (Avolio,Bass, & Jung, 1999; Bass, 1995, 1999; Bass, Avolio & Goodheim, 1987; Bono & Judge, 2004; Ling, Simsek,Lubatkin, & Veiga, 2008; Lowe, et al., 1996; Sosik, Avolio, & Kahai, 1997). Several questionnaires havebeen used to measure the validity of different leadership styles, including transformational leadership,such as the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ), the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire(LBDQ), and the Transformational Leadership Questionnaire (TLQ). In the meta-analytic review of the 39MLQ literatures, Lowe et al. (1996) reported a wide range of observed validity coefficient between thefive scales of the MLQ and various measures of leadership effectiveness. Coefficients for the associationbetween leadership style and effectiveness were higher for transformational scales than for transactionalscales and a positive effect existed across studies between transformational leadership and effectiveness.In addition, the study of Lowe et al. reported that transformational leadership behaviors were morecommonly observed in public organizations than in private ones. No difference in the pattern ofrelationships between MLQ scales and effectiveness were observed in comparison to studies of highlevel and low level leaders. Among all the criteria, charisma, the most commonly associated with ageneralized impression of transformational leadership, showed the strongest association witheffectiveness.
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 8 Ling et al. (2008) found that transformational CEO plays an important role in promotingcorporate entrepreneurship and shaping the character of top management team in terms of behavioralintegration (quality and completeness of decision making), decentralization of responsibilities, risk-takingpropensity, and long-term compensation.Implication for Practice In additional to studies on construct validity, experts and leaders in education have expressedpositive supports for the adoption of transformational leadership. President of UNESO-COL(Commonwealth of Learning) - Sir John Daniel, former Vice President of Athabasca University (the OU)and the Vice-Chancellor of the UK Open University, described his leadership approaches as: “acted byexample to create goals implicitly”; “demonstrated the approach and style”; “interpret values”;“openness and flexibility”; “encouraged those who were most ambitious for the OU”; and “looked forcommitment to the values, energy, enthusiasm, loyalty and credibility across the institution” (Daniel,2001, in Latchem & Hanna (Eds.), pp. 143-146. Stress added by the author). The verbs he used revealedhis notion for transformational leadership. Hanna (2001), former Chancellor of the University ofWisconsin-Extension in the US, shared his primary tasks for leading the institution including “provide amore supportive environment”; “provide opportunities” for faculty and staff (p. 168); “broad-basedtraining and development opportunities for faculty”; and “develop a climate of communication,interaction, and cross-programme and division activities” (p. 170). He suggested that leaders shouldbelieve in the goals and purposes that transcend individuals: “Without ideals and purposes, actions aremeaningless.” (p. 172) Sir John Daniel and Hanna’s leadership practices value the transformationalapproach. Conclusions It is important for educational leaders to lead the organization not based on a give-and-take
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 9relationship, but on the leaders’ personality, traits, intelligence, and ability to make a change throughbeing the moral exemplars of working toward the good of the team or organization as well as constantlycommitting to shared visions and goals. The concept of transformational leadership is a compellingmodel for education leaders today (Beaudoin, 2007). Although researchers have cautioned that thetransformational leadership approach might not always be the best for every situation (Bass, 1999) andthat educational leaders should avoid committing to any particular leadership style (Beaudoin, 2007),this paper argues that leaders of formal educational institutions need to be more transformational andless transactional to be able to remain effective in discharging their leadership responsibilities.
Running head: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP 10 References Aitkin, D. (1998). What Do Vice-Chancellors Do? Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 20(2), 117-128. doi:10.1080/1360080980200201 Avolio, B. J., Bass, B. M., & Jung, D. I. (1999). Re-Examining the Components of Transformational and Transactional Leadership Using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 72(4), 441-462. Bass, B. M. (1995). Theory of Transformational Leadership Redux. The Leadership Quarterly, 6(4), 463-478. doi:10.1016/1048-9843(95)90021-7 Bass, B. M. (1999). Two Decades of Research and Development in Transformational Leadership. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8(1), 9-32. doi:10.1080/135943299398410 Bass, B. M., Avolio, B. J., & Goodheim, L. (1987). Biography and the Assessment of Transformational Leadership at the World-Class Level. Journal of Management, 13(1), 7 -19. doi:10.1177/014920638701300102 Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, Character, and Authentic Transformational Leadership Behavior. The Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 181-217. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(99)00016-8 Beaudoin, M. F. (2007). Institutional Leadership. In Handbook of Distance Education (pp. 391-402). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associations. Bono, J. E., & Judge, T. A. (2004). Personality and Transformational and Transactional Leadership: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(5), 901-910. doi:10.1037/0021- 9010.89.5.901 Burns, J.M, (1978), Leadership, New York, N.Y.: Harper and Raw Publishers. Daniel, J. (2001). The UK Open University: Managing Success and Leading Change in a Mega- University. In Leadership for 21st Century Learning: Global Perspectives from International Experts (pp. 139-146). New York, NY: Routledge. Envision Software, Inc. (2011, Jan. 21). Contingency Leadership. Envision. Retrieved from http://www.envisionsoftware.com/articles/Contingency_Leadership_Theory.html Hanna, D. E. (2001). University of Wisconsin-Extension: Exercising Leadership in Complex Organizations. In Leadership for 21st Century Learning: Global Perspectives from International Experts (pp. 167-175). New York, NY: Routledge. Latchem, C., & Hanna, D. E. (2001a). Changes, Challenges and Choices. In Colin Latchem & Donald E. Hanna (Eds.) Leadership for 21st Century Learning: Global Perspectives from Educational Innovators, (pp. 15-26). New York, NY: Routledge.
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