Transactional Leadership Style Analysis Essay

This describes, in essence, the perspective of the Industrial Age/ transactional-style of leader towards their subordinated. Though to be clear, there is a distinction to be made between the transactional-style, proper, and that style as it was in history, subject to the social, economic, technological contexts of the Industrial Era. The transactional leader “does not individualize the needs of subordinates or focus on their personal development. Transactional leaders exchange things of value with subordinates to advance their own and their subordinates’ agendas (Northouse, 181).

This style of leadership is actually given some further perspective by Quinn, who writes that: “The transactional paradigm suggests that an organization is a coalition of political interests. Everyone has an agenda and a set of needs and is engaged in a variety of transactions where a wide array of resources are exchanged. Power accrues to the person who makes the most effective transactions… it is important to continue up a hierarchical career path” (Quinn, 124). To summarize Northhouse and Quinn on this point, the transactional leader sees the reward of employees/ subordinate’s performance, for a specific, assigned task, as the primary means of ensuring their performance, and rewards accordingly.

That is to say, the subordinate in an organization is, under this model of leadership, not treated as an individual so much as a performer of tricks for reward; and not unlike how the carrot-and-stick motivational philosophy of the Industrial Age saw the average worker. One might say the transactional model differs from the industrial transactional model, proper, because of the fact that in the latter, that reward could be quite meager, yet people were desperate enough to seize it, and try seizing more of it. But the two overlap). Of course, later models of leadership would develop, such as the transformational model, which in some ways is the polar opposite approach of the transactional. A transformational leader does not simply reward or direct their subordinate.

They will, as Quinn writes, “develop a plan of action, mobilize the workforce, and unleash power by vocalizing the core values of the system (Quinn, 124). ” Furthermore, “The transformational paradigm… is concerned with deep change- with exploring new areas, trying new methodologies, and reaching new goals (125). ” And Northhouse further adds that “transformational leadership is the process whereby a person engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower (Northhouse, 172).

Thus, in contrast to the Industrial Age model, which saw a person as merely a replaceable cog whose desperation for reward would keep them working, and in contrast to the transactional model, which focused on the value of exchanges between superior and subordinate, e. g. the laborer (who wants a paycheck) and their superior (who wants the laborer)—the transformational leadership model would allow for much more involvement between the leader and follower in an organization.

It would allow for the individual to be respected in their needs, interests, and abilities, rather than subordinated to the logic of exchange, or worse, the logic of the objectifying Industrial model. Furthermore, the transformational model was designed to help create, among subordinates, a stronger sense of commitment, responsibility, and incentive within an organization: to create subordinates who could better lead themselves to perform the needs of an organization.

Of course, this flies in the face of the logic of the Industrial model of leadership, as well as the transactional. Of course, while examples of these models of leadership can all be found throughout the globe, there is another, more “flexible” approach to leading which is called the situational approach to leadership. As Northhouse points out, “… situational leadership focuses on leadership in situations… to be an effective leader requires that a person adapt his or her style to the demands of different situations (89).

Thus, unlike other approaches to leadership, the situational leader cannot assume a fixed stance of authority over their subordinates, where they, as authority, have the sole unquestionable power to make perfect decisions in the organization. Likewise, the situational leader cannot be dull to the abilities of their subordinates, or the (both) changing and immediate needs of the organization in which they serve.

The situational leader can lead, not because of their authority, not because of their given role, but because of their ability to adapt to the situation they find themselves in; and help their organization do so, in turn. This means figuring out how the leader’s subordinates are motivated, and how to appropriately direct them to circumvent the inevitable hurdles to an organization’s success. Last but not least, Northhouse describes “Passive/Avoidant” models of leadership. These being, of course, a problematic form of leadership without the leader taking any personal engagement in the work of their subordinates.

Basically, these are where leaders either wait for problems to arise in an organization before problems arise, or avoid making crucial decisions (Northhouse, 199). Present “your case for your leadership model for the Age of the Knowledge Worker” for your classmates and your instructor to read and provide their comments. In the current Age of the Knowledge worker, the individual is seen, not as a replaceable cog (like in eras, past), but as a unique individual with unique knowledge and talents to be tapped (Davis, 14).

The individual is a crucial component of an organization, and their knowledge is what is key to ensuring they, as members of an organization, are better equipped to see, from their given areas of knowledge, room for improvement within an organization. Thus, in the age of the Knowledge Worker, I would say a leader (in-line with the transformational and situational approaches of leading) would have to be able to evaluate the knowledge of their subordinates, and cultivate a greater knowledge of their own organization, as well.

In other words, leaders in the Age of the Knowledge worker would have to be able to make use of the situation their subordinates present them with, i. e. with their varying arrays of skills and knowledges that could be useful to an organization. Furthermore, that leader would have to enable the knowledge workers in their organization to become more autonomous leaders in themselves.