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The IUP Journal of Business Strategy
Transformational Leaders in Action: Theory Has Been There, But What About Practice?†
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Transformational leadership is one of the most practiced and researched areas of management, and most of these studies use the questionnaire form(s) developed by Bass, who also is the father of the concept. The aim of this study is to explain the four dimensions of transformational leadership construct developed by Bass in order to increase the consistency between theoretically-defined transformational leadership behaviors and actually observed and/or expected ones. In this respect, items measuring the degree of transformational leadership capability of a leader were studied and some ambiguous items were chosen to further describe them. 47 participants from different nations were asked to evaluate the meaning of those items by asking their opinions about the “specific courses of action a leader takes to behave in that particular way”. Results display that the views of the participants were a valuable tool to make the ambiguous items more concrete. Besides the so-called fuzzy items, other items and theory are also discussed and defined as of practical usage by the authors. Doing so, our intention is to actually define what a transformation leader needs to transform his/her company and lead the change. The discussion part includes both results from the study and our decoding of the theory and literature, to help not only the practitioners imbibe lessons but also academics to comprehend what transformational leadership stands for.

 
 
 

Leadership literature has evolved around four main domains, namely the trait approach, behavioral approach, contingency theories and inspirational theories. The trait approach studied leaders as people who had special traits making them different from others. Accordingly, someone can be born as a leader if he/she possesses those special leadership traits. Trait theorists focused on leadership traits, whereas the behavioral perspective considered specific leadership behaviors. Accordingly, leaders can perform task-oriented and/or people-oriented behaviors. According to this point of view, leadership can be learned and therefore leaders can be trained. Contingency school criticizes the behavioral perspective by highlighting the idea that leadership effectiveness depends on the correct match between the situational characteristics and leadership style. According to this view, ideal leadership behaviors are the ones that match with the situational inputs. And finally, inspirational school, which is an updated version of the trait approach, focuses on the ability of the leaders to influence a group of followers in the direction of a future vision, by highlighting the importance of the leaders’ abilities, characteristics and behaviors to satisfy the followers’ needs, increase followers’ potential and foster their contribution in creating a futuristic state. In this respect, we believe that the trait theories are still alive, however, in the form of inspiration and charisma.

 
 
 

Main Action: Diffusing Transformation, A Supportive Action: Role-Modeling,Another Supportive Action: Team-Building, Final Wave: Adamantly Adhering to Influence.