Whatever your role, knowing how to be a transformational leader and how to be a transactional leader is important. While you may spend more time doing one or the other, it’s important to understand and use both skill sets.
A distinction is often made between “leadership” and “management.” In my mind, this is similar to being “transformational” and being “transactional.” For example, this 2011 article in an international management journal described some of the differences.
- Leadership thinking focuses on people and looks outward; management thinking focuses on things and looks inward
- Leadership goal-setting creates a vision; management goal-setting executes plans
- Leadership creates change; management implements change
- Leadership trusts and develops people; management directs and coordinates people
- Leadership sees the forest; management sees the trees
As management expert John Kotter points out in this conversation, organizations need both superb leadership and superb management. In your leadership role, sometimes you have to be a transformational leader who can create a vision and inspire people to follow it. Other times, you may need to be a transactional leader who can provide specific feedback to help people get the day-to-day work done.
Dee Anne Bonebright