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Essay: Different styles of leadership (transactional, transformational, conscious)

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  • Subject area(s): Business essays
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  • Different styles of leadership (transactional, transformational, conscious)
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Leadership can take form in many styles. All these styles therefore produce a culture that varies. The way the culture is created is integral in how the organisation runs as a whole so it is important to find a leadership style that works for both the organisation and the employees. This essay will discuss three types of leadership styles and what culture they create in order to bring control to achieve the policies and strategies of the organisation. In discussing this, it shall discover the type of culture created by each leadership style and give an idea of how an organisation run under this type of leadership will function. This will give an insight into how many businesses are run and if the leadership style achieves the organisation goals while keeping workers happy at the same time.

Different styles of leadership causes culture to be created in different ways. The three styles that will be discussed in this essay are transactional, transformational and conscious leadership. All these types of leadership influences the workforce’s approach tasks in alternative ways. Transactional leadership focuses solely on results (Results, 2018), whether that be profits, market share growth or expansion – depending on what they want to achieve as an organisation as a whole. These leaders have strict authority and responsibilities within the organisation. They encourage order in their subordinates through accolades and penalties, which creates a very structured and controlled culture. Employees will have a clear image of what is required of them in order for them to succeed at their job and to progress further within the organisation. There are clear sets of rules given to the employees in order to show them right from wrong. Transactional leadership directly links to the policies and strategies of an organisation, as that is how these leaders encourage and motivate staff by telling them exactly what they want to see from them in terms of work performance. Therefore, the way these leaders portray their goal outcomes directly affect how the control system supports the organisations overall goals. The next type of leadership is transformational leadership which focuses on the needs of their colleagues rather than their own (Investors in People, 2018). Figure 1 (Management Study Guide, 2018) below shows how transformational leadership comes together, using the 4 I’s. A transformational leader’s foundation is their vision and in having this allows employees to see precisely what is required from them in every single action they part take in. For example, if an organisation is trying to be eco-friendly, employees whose leader believes in this theory, will know that they should aim to be as eco-friendly as possible in every task they complete, without having to be told to do so which is what happens in transactional leadership. Employees opinions are valued and taken into consideration when it comes to issues within the organisation. This creates an easy-going culture where employees feel included and empowered. Transformational leadership encourages employees to think for themselves when it comes to working towards the organisations policies and strategies.

Figure 1

The last type of leadership is conscious leadership, which is reasonably similar to transformational leadership to an extent. Leaders who follow this theory recognise that they are a smaller piece of the organisation that is taking part in the larger picture for the organisation as a whole. They aim to create a culture of trust, care and expansive influence (Vermey, 2014) to allow employees to think freely. They highly value self-awareness. Conscious leaders believe in their employees all aligning their beliefs and listening to each other while also respecting each other’s opinions. They value taking full responsibility for their own ill actions and aim to be the best for themselves and their organisation. Considering conscious leaders instil the strategies of the organisation in their workers to allow them to work together towards this goal, they fully support these policies and want to be a part in achieving them.

The beliefs and values of each leadership theory differ. Transactional leadership could be described similarly to a military commander (MindValley Blog, 2018). They aim to control and monitor employees with balanced means (Bass, 1985). Traits that these leaders carry would be that they are left-brained – this means they are very ordered and analytical thinkers, they think more logically than those who are more right brain led (Pietrangelo, 2017). These leaders also value detail and efficiency in their work (MindValley Blog, 2018), and also believe workers should do as told and they will be rewarded if they do so. Their values would be very straight forward and easy to follow. The cultural norms within an organisation who has a transactional leader would be written down clearly for them. They work directly towards achieving the strategies of the organisation. In terms of the Schein Model, Figure 2 below, which is a model for how culture is built within an organisation, the espoused values would be for example organic produce and the artefact would be the organic eggs used in making a cake. But with a transactional leader, these values would be told to the employees and exactly how they should incorporate them into the baking of the cake.

Figure 2

However, with a transformational leadership, the employee would be told the company is aiming to be use organic produce and the employee would use their own initiative to use the organic eggs. A transformational leader values corporate cooperation (Alchemy and Bullard, 2014). These leaders need to create a sense of community within their staff to help complete difficult tasks and challenges. They also have a positive outlook for the future which is optimistic yet realistic (Alchemy and Bullard, 2014). They aim to bring change to an organisation by introducing new ideas (Management Study Guide, 2018). In comparison to transactional leadership, the transformational theory is more aware of human nature. Transformational leadership orientates itself more around valuing other employees opinions and their feelings towards the work they are doing. It also values giving peers a voice in how things are run in the organisation. Transformational leadership also believes that the contribution towards the organisations goal or strategy should come from the employee themselves. The leader tells them they goal but not how to work towards it therefore they also value the initiative of workers as well. Conscious leadership is all about everyone having an equal voice. There what is called “The 15 Commitments” that joins conscious leadership (, 2018). Some of these commitments include curiosity – which is about committing to the job at hand and expanding self-awareness, candour – which is being true to yourself and being able to express yourself truthfully and also approval – being your own source of safety and control. Conscious leadership highly values everything coming from yourself and your own thoughts and opinions. They value being able produce an outcome that can help everyone. They also belief in owning up to when they have worked to their full potential and discussing how they can improve themselves. And in achieving all these factors on their own, they will help move towards the strategies of the organisation as a whole.

In order for these leaders to encourage their employees to meet these policies and strategies, they need a control mechanism. A control mechanism is a method of managing variables in the desired way (, 2018), therefore each leadership style will want to manage their employees differently. Transactional leaders believe in rewards and punishments for their employees. The rewards for good work may be a bonus or promotion. They believe that if someone knows they can reap benefits from good work then they are more likely to be motivated to work harder to achieve this goal. Therefore, the promotion or bonus acts as a control mechanism for transactional leaders as the idea of a reward manipulates workers into performing to the standards their leaders require from them. Transformational leadership on the other hand works in a different way to control their employees. They aim to make change through example (Chandrayan, 2017) and believe in inspiring others to be creative and work together. So, if a transformational leader wants to make the company eco-friendlier, they will hold a meeting for example to brainstorm ideas with their colleagues on how they can all work together to achieve this goal. By including their employees in the creative decisions that could make a big difference in the organisation as a whole, it motivates the workforce as they feel they have a voice within the organisation and therefore feel empowered. This then acts as a control system as the company will grow into being eco-friendly, while inspiring the staff to be creative.  Conscious leaders believe every action they take and do comes from them. They believe as individuals they must do well to allow the organisation to do well. In terms of a control mechanism, if the organisation an individual works for aims to use only recyclable products, they will take this aim personally. If they are not using recyclable products they will take responsibility for this and openly own up to not doing this. Conscious leaders believe in “below the line” or “above the line” in their work (Discovery in Action, 2015).  If they are above the line they have been willing to learn and had an open state of mind but if they are below the line they have been closed off and have acted defensively (Forbes, 2017). But this is a self-evaluation. So, if an employee is not performing to this aim of using recyclable products, being “below the line” will motivate them to work harder to become “above the line” within their work because they will view themselves as being closed off for not working towards this goal. Therefore, this acts a control system as if the employees are using recyclable products, then the company a whole will be as well.

The role a leader plays in creating a culture to help move towards organisational policies and strategies is very important. As discussed above, each type of leader creates a different culture for the goals to be met. Transformational leaders believe in a “give and take” form of transaction when it comes to their work. While this means the organisation’s policies will be met exactly, it creates a culture that becomes very constraint and lacks creativity due to the strict rules that are formed. Transformational leadership takes a different approach in giving employees a voice and say in how they perform their work to an extent. The culture in these organisations is one where employees do not feel afraid to voice their opinions and employees also feel empowered because they will be heard. This way, organisational strategies and policies will be achieved, while employees can make changes and be creative with their work as there are no strict and set guidelines. Conscious leaders create a culture of honesty and trust. Employees are not afraid to admit where they have gone wrong in order for them to grow and aim to achieve better the next task they take on. The culture is very open, and employees take pride in doing well and working towards their personal goals. This means organisational policies and strategies are met but at the highest standard as employees take not reaching these goals personally. A leader is key to meeting the policies and strategies of an organisation. Any style aims to work towards these goals but the way they get there is where the difference lies. In my opinion, transformational leadership is the ideal style as it is a mix between transactional and conscious leadership. But, as long as the employees are happy and the policies and strategies are met then the leadership style is working.

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