Are You a Transactional or a Transformational Leader?

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A transformational leader is the kind of like-minded, like-hearted leader we work with because they recognize that people are their greatest asset. They know that their greatest responsibility is to guide, develop, and support those they lead, to be their best, so they too become transformational leaders at work and home, no matter their age, title, role or tenure.

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

Sam Walton

Transactional leadership or transactional management is the part of one style of leadership that focuses on supervision, organization, or performance. Transactional leadership is a style of leadership in which leaders promote compliance by followers through both rewards and punishments. Through a rewards and punishments system, transactional leaders are able to keep followers motivated for the short-term. Unlike transformational leaders, those using the transactional approach are not looking to change the future, they look to keep things the same. Leaders using transactional leadership as a model pay attention to followers’ work in order to find faults and deviations.

Transformational leadership is a theory of leadership where a leader works with teams to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a group. Transformational leadership serves to enhance the motivation, morale, and job performance of people through a variety of mechanisms; these include connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to a project and to the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers in order to inspire them and to raise their interest in the project; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, which allows the leader to align followers with tasks that enhance their performance. Equally important is understanding the qualities a transformational leadership and what they bring to an organization. Transformational leaders are strong in the abilities to adapt to different situations, share a collective consciousness, self-manage, and be inspirational while leading a group of employees

Which type of leadership do you practice or experience and which do you want?

Transformational leadership inspires people to achieve unexpected or remarkable results. It gives workers autonomy over specific jobs, as well as the authority to make decisions once they have been trained. This induces a positive change in the followers’ attitudes and the organization as a whole.

A prospect of mine asked me if I’m familiar with Transformational Leadership. The LifeWork Systems model IS a transformational leadership model. As such, it is based in purpose, values and vision. It is designed so people within an organization buy into and deliver the vision of the organization, as well as the visions of one another. When we help an organization set outcomes, employees are invited to help deliver the outcomes together. Transformational leaders build strong, trustworthy relationships. Here are important ways we do this:

  1. Focusing on developing leadership in every employee so the entire workforce is not only building trust but operating from full distribution of concepts and tool to all employees, to develop emotional intelligence, social interest, personal responsibility, healthy teamwork and intrinsic motivation in each and trustworthiness is foundational to our responsibility-based culture model It’s not enough that traditional titled leaders are developed to be transformational. There must be equal time, money and education given to all staff. That’s why we put emphasis on systems, vertical team development (CEO to front-line staff) and capacity building; the ability of individuals, organizations or systems to perform appropriate functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably as a collective.
  2. Focusing on leader/follower agility. We purposely set up activities in our process to increase flexibility in all people so each can confidently shift from leading to following and vice-versa, all while consciously supporting each other in either role.
  1. Integrating Alfred Adler’s psychology model. The reason Adler’s model is still under-recognized is that understanding his work would significantly shift the use of power from our current win/lose dynamics into radical shared power, inclusion and equity. That’s why the authors of The Courage To Be Disliked wrote in the forward of their book that Adler was at least 100 years ahead of his time. Adler had the most cogent understanding of what encourages or diminishes a healthy sense of belonging and significancein people and made the connection between the impacts of this on internal and external struggles. With this knowledge, people are able to recognize how they contribute to, and how they either move further into and towards inferiority complex or away from it. With it, people are able to read the map of specific behaviors because they see the private logic and values of each person despite their trips into fear and limitation.

Understanding Adler’s individual psychology and the important concept of social interest (awareness about how our actions cause consequences to others) shifts the priorities in group dynamics from power-over and power-under to power-within for ALL. Adler effectively disrupts the win/lose transactional way of treating one another and leads to transformational leadership development (in everyone). Some version of Adler’s philosophies are aligned with the best in culture evolution today.

  1. Using a digital platform and an implementation framework. You need such a framework to support full distribution of concepts, tools and practices when transitioning to a healthy culture and to sustain it.
  2. Promoting systems integration using a digital intranet structureso long-term sustainability of our model and all practices and tools in it are easy for our clients to reference and use no matter where they are situated.

You are a business leader. Make sure you understand the importance of shifting away from a transactional way of leading people and how to move towards a transformational one instead; this makes all the difference in your results!

This article is published in the St. Louis Small Business Monthly in the column The Extraordinary Workplace, October 2020.

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners and executives, community leaders, parents, educators and individuals hire LifeWork Systems because they know that effective conditions and conversations make all the difference in building trusting relationships, achieving dreams, and creating solutions and innovations for our evolving world. When people are happy and responsible, emotionally and socially intelligent, confident, and appropriately seen, heard, and supported, they always exceed expectations. We help instill into every person common concepts, terms, tools, and processes that result in healthy, happy, caring and contributing individuals, teams and organizations. Our mission is to create a world in which all people love their lives!

We appreciate you being here on our website and encourage you to reach out to us directly at or  314.239.4727. May something we offered in this article and website help you love YOUR life ~ because YOU matter!

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