Transactional Leadership—A Rough Guide to Leadership Models and Theories

Jul 5, 2021 2 min read
Transactional Leadership—A Rough Guide to Leadership Models and Theories

Transactional Leadership focuses on the role of supervision and getting the job done. But what does this leadership theory tell us about the leader?

Transactional Leadership isn’t about changing the future. It’s about getting the job done. For the most part, it is a directive leadership style.

Directive behaviour is telling people what to do, how to do it, where to do it, and when to do it.

Furthermore, directive behaviour, as we learn from Hersey and Blanchard, is characterized by the close supervision of performance.

And this point is key to understanding Transactional Leadership theory and Transformational Leadership, which is the topic of the next post in this series.

Here’s why.

Features of the Transactional Leader

Transactional leaders use an exchange model, where they reward or punish performance according to the quality or quantity of work produced.

In other words, the transactional leader exchanges tangible rewards for the work and loyalty of their followers.

If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. – Albert Einstein

And, they do this by closely monitoring performance. If an employee does what is asked of them, a reward may follow. If not, the leader will intervene to clarify expectations and reinforce goals.

Occasionally, they will use punishment when performance is unacceptable.

What Is Wrong With Transactional Leadership?

Before answering this important question, it is worthwhile thinking about leadership behaviour.

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