Transformational leadership theory

No concept is free from criticisms. Transformational leadership theory is not an exception to it. Though seems effective, there are numerous criticisms about transformational leadership theory (Tracey and Hinkin, 1998).

What is transformational leadership?

Transformational leaders are believed to touch their followers psychologically and create an impact on them (Avolio, Bass and Jung, 1999). They interact with their followers, share their views and thoughts openly with them.  They are easily approachable and trustworthy (Tejeda, Scandura and Pillai, 2001). They are ready to lend their ears and shoulders when their followers are in need of their help. They live a life of purpose and serve as role models to others in encouraging and helping their followers. Transformational leaders are not only in profit-making companies and political parties. They are found everywhere. Transformational leaders sacrifice their lives for the well being of others (Podsakoff, Mackenzie and Boomer 1996). Money is secondary to them when compared with human values and relationships. Thus they make their followers become emotionally connected with them. Evidences and events from the past show that transformational leadership theory is related with the traits of an individual which makes it much more complicated than other theories of leadership.

The concept of transformational leadership argues that leadership is an in-built quality (Yukl, 1999). This makes it difficult to teach individuals to exhibit transformational leadership.  Yet another drawback of this theory is that it is very broad and hence difficult to conceptualize.


  • Podsakoff P M, Mackenzie S B and Boomer W H (1996), Transformational Leader behaviors and substitutes for leadership as determinants of employee satisfaction, commitment, trust and organizational citizenship behavior, Journal of Management, USA.
  • Yukl G (1999), An evaluation of conceptual weakness in transformational and charismatic leadership theories, Prentice-Hall, pp 285-305, New Jersey.
  • Tracey J B and Hinkin T R (1998), Transformational leadership or effective managerial practices?, Leadership Quarterly, pp 31-52, USA.
  • Tejeda M J, Scandura T A and Pillai R (2001), The MLQ revisited: Psychometric managerial practices?, Group and Organization Management, pp 220-236, USA.
  • Avolio B J, Bass B M and Jung D I (1999), Re-examining the components of transformational and transactional leadership using multifactor leadership, Cengage Learning, USA.

Priya Chetty

Partner at Project Guru
Priya Chetty writes frequently about advertising, media, marketing and finance. In addition to posting daily to Project Guru Knowledge Tank, she is currently in the editorial board of Research & Analysis wing of Project Guru. She emphasizes more on refined content for Project Guru's various paid services. She has also reviewed about various insights of the social insider by writing articles about what social media means for the media and marketing industries. She has also worked in outdoor media agencies like MPG and hotel marketing companies like CarePlus.

Related articles

  • Transformational leaders of the century Transformational leaders explore hidden talents of individuals and make them perform exceedingly well.
  • Leadership in the past and present According to the Oxford English Dictionary, while the term 'leader' appeared in the English language as early as the 1300s', the term 'leadership' came into existence only in the 1800s' (Allio, 2005). Since that time, the concept of leadership had evolved and has been studied by scholars […]
  • Leadership Change in Organization Leadership is a vital management function and the life-blood of today’s corporate sector. The leader plays decisive role in shaping up the future of an organization.
  • Characteristics of transformational leaders Transformational leaders are believed to possess extraordinary characteristics when compared with normal people.
  • Cultural theories of entrepreneurship Entrepreneurs are considered to be the seeds of the development of industries. Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the process of the promotion and execution of the business. In other words, entrepreneurs are the persons who are responsible for the organizing and managing the business […]


We are looking for candidates who have completed their master's degree or Ph.D. Click here to know more about our vacancies.