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What is the difference?

Read this article about the difference between transformational and transactional leadership approaches
Group brainstorming at a computer.
© University of Southern Queensland
Transactional and transformational leaders have a different focus in their relationship with followers.

Transactional approaches are characterised by a reliance on the exchange process between leader and followers, in other words they view interactions on a utilitarian level, that they are only there to serve the task at hand. They tend to have a particular focus on day-to-day issues, work within established systems, seek to limit variation and use existing processes to solve problems.

Transformational leaders focus on moving followers to accomplish more than what is usually expected of them through the high-order behaviours listed earlier. They tend to seek changes to system, solve problems by seeking new ways of doing things and seek to maximise their team’s capability.

Shamir, House, and Arthur (1993) contend that leaders influence the self-concept of their followers by associating followers’ goals and collective experiences to the leaders’ mission so that “they become valued aspects of the followers’ self-concept” (Conger, 1999:155).

Thus, the transformational leader transforms followers’ self-concepts by:

  • changing follower perceptions of the nature of work.
  • offering an appealing future vision.
  • developing a deep collective identity among followers.
  • heightening both individual and collective self-efficacy (1999:155).

In the following video presentation, Dr Jim Dittmar, MSLS provides a good explanation of the different types of leadership.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Richtopia. (2016, June 30). Transactional vs. transformational leadership definition. . Retrieved from
Shamir, B., House, R. J., & Arthur M. B. (1993). The motivational effects of charismatic leadership: A self-concept based theory. Organization Science, 4(4), 577–594. doi:

© University of Southern Queensland
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