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A Literature Review of Transformational Leadership “Organization Climate – Employee Performance” Essay

The literature review attempts to examine transformational leadership impact addressing organizational change and performance. Based on the concept and theory do the attributes and skills provide the tools for leaders to motivate and influence follower’s verses the traditional leading through power and authority. The history of transformational leadership style has now been tested and defined for over thirty years. The literature review sampling crosses many organizations from the non for profit, governmental, private business, paramilitary, corporations and healthcare. Furthermore, the difference in style from transactional leadership (situational leading) to transformational leadership, along with addressing the cultural and climate of the organizations which challenge leaders to find a method to motivate and inspire their followers. As the leaders navigate the changing landscape within the organization what characteristics and traits are parts of the make-up a good and effective leader. The paper will conclude that the research and review of the literature supports transformational leadership will motivate, inspire and create an innovative environment to meet today’s organization and employee trust to follow their leader.

As the topic of leadership begins with many studies and opinions on what type of leadership motivates and inspires an organization and its employees working towards a common goal for the betterment of each other which generally points to transformational leadership. Therefore, the search and review of numerous articles and studies confirms that transformational leadership has an edge as a successful leadership style and concept to meet the challenges addressing morale and performance. Furthermore, transactional leadership has a psychological component through its approach developing relationships as a key factor instead of leading by authority and power while responding to the situation. Before moving on to the literature review and findings I found an interesting article titled “Traits of leadership” (Jerabek, S., & Day, J., Danny. (2009) to focus on what is a good leader and “For this article, the authors qualify a good leader as one who can effectively lead a group of individuals with a specific goal.

The personality of the leader, coupled with an ability to accomplish the mission, prove critical for success of the organization. Leaders also have personality characteristics that promote and develop others, such as overall awareness, empowerment of others, and personal integrity. The lack or overabundance of a leader’s characteristics can affect any organization. Leaders exhibit various styles of leadership that mature and change throughout their careers.” ( FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 78(11), pg.20.) As the review approaches to address the question many organizations do not understand management verses leadership I thought this article provided a good foundation on what is a good leader which assisted with focusing on the topic of transformational leadership.

So what is transformational leadership which began as transforming leadership within the political area in 1978 by James Macgregor Burns through his research on political leaders? “The initial concept of transformational leadership was provided by Burns in his research about political leaders. According to Burns, transformational leadership is a process in which leaders and followers promote each other to higher levels of morality and motivation. Transformational leaders help their followers to look at old problems via a new perspective. They stimulate their followers to attempt higher than usual levels.

Transformational leaders inspire their followers to think more than their own aims and interests and to focus on greater team, organizational, national and global objectives. By providing future perspective, such leaders influence over their followers in a manner that they assume that perspective as their own aim and show high efforts to achieve it. These leaders are able to move the organization toward the ideal perspective by coordinating the employees and integrating all system components [1].” (Jandaghi, G., Matin, H. Z., & Farjami, A.) (2009).

The research began in 1978 and in 1985 Bernard M. Bass extended Burns work and focused on the psychological aspect of transformational leadership as it inspire and motivated followers. As the researched evolved into the nineties the impact on organizational culture and innovation was being examined. Since this type of leadership concept was more people oriented and relationship building within the organization the question about performance and success was beginning to be studies in the 2000’s.

Furthermore, what is the impact to the changing culture within organizations relating to innovation and the rapid changes in technology, globalization and the high demand for new products and services? “As it is obvious from the term associated with this type of leadership, transformational leaders, look doe transforming and changing, which is necessary for innovation. Although leadership is an important factor in the life of every organization, “yet few studies have empirically examined the link between this factor and innovation at the organizational level (Jung et al., 2003:p.525)”. (Mokhber, M., Ismail, W. K. b. W., & Vakilbashi, A.) (2011) Australian Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences, 5(6), p.504).

Does this type of leadership style favor any gender type since the concept has more of the softer approach to leadership verses the hard line authoritarian and power type approach? There was one reference in the research which referred to a phenomenon termed the glass cliff where the woman’s attributes are a better fit during an organizational crisis such as poor performance. So a lesson learned as part of this research about gender still focuses on characteristics, attributes and corporate stereotyping type of bias. However, if this information is carried forward beyond the stereotype corporate male dominate leaders these research findings could validate why transformational leadership style works best during a crisis because of the female attribute of relationship building. As part of this review it is important to look at this type of research of gender differences and their psychological phenomenon of transformational leadership.

There is something to learn from the glass cliff research of (Bruckmüller, S., & Branscombe, N. R.) (2010) as stated, “If men have maneuvered the organization into trouble, appointing a female leader will appear as one way to achieve the transformation needed to turn things around (see Ryan & Haslam, 2007 for a related discussion). (British Journal of Social Psychology, 49(3), p. 435). One word of importance within the above sentence which is transformation indicates the value of glass cliff research not because of the bias or gender issue but the attributes to be successful during an organizational crisis which mirrors one of the attributes needed to be an effective transformational leader…a small validation.

The review discussed many issues as they relate to organizational challenges and the impact of leadership styles when motivating and inspiring followers to perform, become innovative and improve climate within the organization or group. As discussed during the research from 1978 to 2012 the change in the workplace and employee expectations from their employer or the leaders. How transformation is delivered was addressed and the factors which are identified with lower morale and reduce performance. (Bunker, K., Wakefield, M., Jaehnigen, O., & Stefl, B.) (2006). “Change initiatives typically derail because the ball is dropped on the people side. Perfectly good strategies and change initiatives stall or fail when employees become stuck in some phase of the emotional transition. Leaders who fail to connect around these natural emotions generally struggle to gain sufficient buy-in from employees and thereby undermine their progress toward new goals. Instead of a loyal, productive, and enthusiastic workforce, executives and managers end up leading employees who are insecure, fearful, and skeptical. (Transformation delivered. T+d, 60(3), p.26.)

The movement within organizational change to recruit and retain good talent was and added benefit identified with effective leaders and as stated to be an effective leader your followers need to be motivated and inspired. So this was another positive component the research found why transformational leadership is part of performance of an organization and its employees. (Bunker, k. et al.) “For leaders to effectively harness and maintain the talent and commitment needed to benefit from organizational change, they must: Examine their behaviors and emotions tied to change and transition. This begins the process of operating from a place of authenticity as a leader. Establish and protect trust. Without trust and honesty, authenticity and credibility suffer, which undermines solid change initiatives or management decisions. Find a balance between structural leadership and people leadership. By learning the important competencies for leading in times of change and transition, leaders have a new perspective from which to operate. (Transformation delivered. T+d, 60(3), p. 30). This article is an overview of the transition plan to transform the United States Postal Service which began in 2002.

Each study relating to organizational change and leadership concept supports the transformational leadership style. As stated within this article transformational leadership. .(Jandaghi, G., Matin, H. Z., & Farjami, A.) (2009). “The effective role of managers and leaders in radical changes and transformations is unavoidable in the organizations. Leadership and management are not identical. To influence over others, management is depended on formal power while leadership is resulted from a social influence process. Leaders make cultures and their fundamental role is affecting others. In other words, transformational leaders try to make changes that increase organizational efficacy and performance. These are changes that cause higher aim and expectations to the organization. (Comparing transformational leadership in successful and unsuccessful companies. International Journal of Social Sciences, 4(3), p. 212).

Furthermore, does this concept and theory carry over to multi-agency and crisis management which is more traditionally authoritative management style however, there is a movement of change in leadership style called Interwoven Leadership which combines features such as task skills, interpersonal skills, stakeholder awareness and personal qualities of commanders and their teams. This type of leadership has some of the same attributes as transformational leadership when referring to interpersonal skills. (Borodzicz, E & Devitt, K) “For an interwoven method to be embedded effectively, it must be supported by the wider organizational culture in normality and incorporated into organizational training at many levels. This may raise challenges of ethos as well as practicality. As with all cultural shifts, these value changes take a long time to truly embed within an organization, and some Gold leaders may continue to be wedded to the ‘hard skill’ approaches that may have served them well in their careers. (Interwoven leadership: The missing link in multi-agency major incident response. Journal of Contingencies & Crisis Management, 16(4), p. 214)

In addition, the following comment supports the research defining leadership moving towards the need for interpersonal skills to be an effective leader. (Jandaghi, G., et. al.) (2009) “The effective role of managers and leaders in radical changes and transformations is unavoidable in the organizations. Leadership and management are not identical. To influence over others, management is depended on formal power while leadership is resulted from a social influence process. Leaders make cultures and their fundamental role is affecting others. In other words, transformational leaders try to make changes that increase organizational efficacy and performance. These are changes that cause higher aim and expectations to the organization. (International Journal of Social Sciences, 4(3), p. 211)

Now another factor was discovered in the research of the literature which one was the impact of the baby-boomer retirement phase which might leave a deficiency in the leadership roles. However, the research showed more optimism to this concern and myth. (Johnson, J.) (Spring 2009) “Among the concerns over baby boom retirements is that of a workforce leadership drain. The age demographics of CEOs presented here, based on census data, suggest that a leadership deficit in the nonprofit sector may not be as imminent as in the government sector but that it looms closer than in the for-profit sector. (Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 19(3), p. 300)

Wisdom is an unique attribute identified in the review of literature titled Developing You. (McCullough, C.) (2007). “Wisdom. As Jim Collins’s research demonstrates, Level 5 leaders have this very deep inner perspective. Wisdom is not developed via a checklist. It is developed over the reflective journey of a lifetime. (Developing You, p. 67) This supports the research which highlights most transformational leaders have more experience to truly be effective and develop trust from the follower’s overtime.

The research did address the difference of transactional leaders and transformational leaders and the discussion was obvious in today’s challenging times the transformational leader is the right fit “According to Fulwiler, there are transactional leaders and transformational leaders. Transactional leaders operate in command-and-control mode. They focus on costs and financial goals, and have a quid pro quo relationship with workers. “This will get you average,” Fulwiler added. On the other hand, transformational leaders operate in a collaborative mode. They lead by example, encourage employee involvement and team building, and genuinely care about worker Wellness. “This is the key to productivity and high-performance work systems,” Fulwiler said. “This leads to above-average outcomes.” (The Power of Transformational Leadership) (2013), Professional Safety, 58(1), 19-19.)

Another factor addressed in the literature was the relationship of training and development to transformational leadership and the research displayed a positive outcome as stated, “The results have important implications for those aiming to implement organizational-level interventions to improve employee well-being. Although cross-sectional, our study raises the possibility that training leaders to exhibit certain behaviors might also change working conditions of subordinates. Rather than implementing wide-ranging organizational changes for a large number of employees, these results suggest that training their superiors might have a similar impact (e.g. training managers in transformational leadership behaviors might bring about involved followers who perceive their jobs as meaningful and experience high levels of influence).

Training staff at managerial levels might prove to be both more cost-effective and easy to control than implementing wide-ranging organizational changes. (Nielson, et al., Journal of Advanced Nursing, 63(5), p. 473 ) Another viewpoint which supports training transformational leaders will improve performance as stated,. “Specifically, the finding that transformational leadership was positively associated with relational identification with the supervisor, which, in turn, was related to self-efficacy, and consequently performance, suggests training leaders to be more transformational may provide important and useful returns on investment in terms of follower development. Such training initiatives have been shown to be related to increased levels of commitment, motivation, satisfaction, and performance among followers (Barling, Weber, & Kelloway, 1996; Dvir et al., 2002). (Walumbwa, F.O. & Hartwell, C. A., Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 84(1), p. 167) Furthermore, this research which was stated in the above article confirmed the research relating to the 1985 (Bass) theory that transformational leadership does have an impact on performance.

Moreover, it is supported by the following information and research. (Zhu, W., Sosik, J. J., Riggio, R. E., & Yang, B). (2012). “As indicated by several researchers (e.g., Bass & Riggio, 2006; Sosik & Jung, 2010), empowerment is a crucial process that defines transformational leadership and illustrates why it is effective in building follower organizational identification and performance. Followers’ identification with the organization may be extremely important for their work attitudes, such as organizational commitment, and for other work performance measures, associated with excellence in the contemporary global marketplace. (Journal of Behavioral & Applied Management, 13(3), p. 208)


Supported by research, theory and sampling of managers, leaders, employees and stakeholders relating to organizational change, performance and leadership the conclusion is transformational leadership style or concept has the skills and attributes to motivate and inspire followers. Therefore, the organizational climate is conducive to innovation and healthy work environment to address the ever changing workplace while improving organization’s capacities to compete in the challenging business environment.

Bruckmüller, S., & Branscombe, N. R. (2010). The glass cliff: When and why women are selected as leaders in crisis contexts. British Journal of Social Psychology, 49(3), 433-451. doi: 10. 1348/0 14466609X466594 Bunker, K., Wakefield, M., Jaehnigen, O., & Stefl, B. (2006). Transformation delivered. T+d, 60(3), 26-30. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lewisu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=20607564&site=ehost-live&scope=site Devitt, K. R., & Borodzicz, E. P. (2008). Interwoven leadership: The missing link in multi-agency major incident response. Journal of Contingencies & Crisis Management, 16(4), 208-216. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5973.2008.00551.x Jandaghi, G., Matin, H. Z., & Farjami, A. (2009). Comparing transformational leadership in successful and unsuccessful companies. International Journal

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