This type describes the interaction between leader and follower as a transaction. This is akin to the actor market studied in economics; a follower agrees to serve the leader in return for some sort of incentive. This could be a wage if it is in business, or perhaps just a feeling of accomplishment in a volunteer situation. Transformational leadership, which has been researched for the last 25 years, runs much deeper than the previous type. With transformational leadership, “the object is to turn individuals’ attention toward larger causes thereby converting self-interest into collective concerns.
The distinguishing feature of transforming leadership is a common goal” (Ethics, 113). For the concerns of this discussion, we will consider transformational and transforming leadership to be identical. There is disagreement among scholars about what should be considered transformational leadership. Some say that, by definition, a transformational leader is morally uplifting. Others say that if the leader lacks values, the leader is a straightforwardness leader. Ethical transformational leaders have been described as socially oriented while unethical ones are self-oriented (Ethics, 171).
The potential problem with transformational leadership is inherent in the moon goal. A common goal, by its very nature, must be an objective sought by all members of the group. While the leader serves to convince followers of the merits of the goal, it is possible for group members to have other opinions. It is likely that a group of five people in similar positions can agree on a common goal. However, as the size of the group increases, there is more opportunity for dissenting opinions. This is most apparent on a national or international level where the group consists of millions or billions of constituents.
Can one expect o find a common goal shared among billions of people? To provide a real-life analysis of transformational leadership, I will examine the actions of Mao Sedona in China. In Mayo’s Great Leap Forward, he led with fear and intimidation. This is actually best described as transactional leadership; the constituents followed the leader with the incentive of avoiding cruel punishments. It has been said that Mao ruled with an “iron fist. ” However, following the Great Leap Forward, Mao became the theorist of the revolution, and Lie Shah’s became the head of state (Humanity, p. 7). At this point, I would argue that Mao had qualities of a transformational leader. Now instead of leading troops and making commands, he used his persuasion and influence on his followers. This led to the Cultural Revolution. One example of Mayo’s charismatic leadership is this letter to the Red Guards: “The action of the Red Guards expresses their indignation at, and accusation of the exploitation and oppression of the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, and revolutionary parties by the landlords, capitalists, imperialists, revisionists, and their lackeys.
It fully justifies any rebellion against the reactionaries. I am firmly behind you” (Humanity, p. 289). Is this transactional, transformational, or straightforwardness leadership? In Mayo’s letter, he is encouraging the Red Guards by pointing to a common goal: fighting against exploitation and oppression. The letter is definitely not an example of that written by a transactional leader. Whether this transformation is ethical or unethical may be debatable. Mao did not seem to consider himself an evil man. Many of his initiatives were aimed at greatly improving China.
However, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution have been referred to as “two of the centuries great man-made catastrophes” (Humanity, p. 284). While the results of Mayo’s initiatives were filled with unethical actions, it seems that Mao was as much socially oriented as self-oriented. He desired to advance China, although at the expense of its people. Did Mao Godson’s transformational leadership during the Cultural Revolution cause harm to minorities by the majority? The answer is an emphatic yes.
While Mao inspired many to follow him, the actions of his followers were directly against to factions of opposing views. Mayo’s inspiration led to attacks on other leaders by the masses. No one protected this group from the angry majority. Mao Sedona provides only one extreme example of transformational leadership. The results from his leadership are not the typical results of this type of leadership. However, when a transformational leader with his influence and fanaticism leads a nation of 600 million, it is likely that there will be at least a minority of nonconforming opinions in addition to the mainstream ideas.