Transactional leadership is a form of leadership in which followers are required to follow instructions, maintain the status quo, work towards self-interest, and experience positive or negative reinforcement in compliance with their actions. Supervision, organizational structure and team performance are some of the main focus points of transactional leadership. Transformational leadership focuses on enhancing morale and performance by emphasizing creativity, self-identity, and implementing new ideas.
According to the definitions of those two leadership styles, my current leadership style is transformational. For example, before making a decision regarding an intervention, I can explore the problem from different perspective to take in account possible interactions of variables that I would otherwise miss. I also noticed an improvement in my ability to think and act under pressure after practicing creative thinking in the workplace. I also apply that approach to my personal life because it is important for achieving a sense of identity and keeping an open mind towards new experiences.
My co-workers also follow transformational leadership because it is better than transactional leadership in healthcare settings. Perhaps the only exception are nurses who work in the intensive care unit because they work with acute cases and are required to resolve life-threatening situations. They are required to embrace the characteristics of transactional leadership because experimenting with creative approaches may create adverse outcomes in those situations, so strict adherence to evidence-based practices is required.
Otherwise, transformational leadership is practiced, and nurses in leader positions generally prefer transformational leadership. They are usually successful because trustworthiness is linked to improving the confidence of the employees (Smith, 2011), and they are honest with the staff and often promote their interest and rights at the workplace whenever possible.
Most of the nurses are capable of effectively communicating with co-workers, but many factors, both personal and professional, can influence their communication abilities. However, policies, training, and regulations are in place to help employees understand cultural diversity, provide constructive feedback, and communicate with patients more effectively to promote positive treatment outcomes (Smith, 2011).
As a general rule, effective leaders possess a high level of self-confidence, self-esteem, and emotional intelligence, so they are able to empower employees and have insight into their needs (Smith, 2011). However, the employees who want to work for a transformational leader also require those traits because they allow them to be creative and assume responsibility. While some people do not possess those traits, they can be trained by participating in a system that uses transformational leadership.
Transformational leadership is a more suitable style for healthcare settings because it promotes job satisfaction, which is important for nurses who are often at risk of facing burnout and fatigue. Nielsen, Yarker, Randall, and Munir (2009) conducted a cross-sectional self-reported study to collect data about the correlation between transformational leadership and self-efficacy, team-efficacy, well-being, and job satisfaction. While transformational leadership does not directly influence job satisfaction levels, it does improve job satisfaction indirectly by enhancing the employees’ self efficacy (Nielsen et al., 2009).
Unlike transformational leadership, transactional leadership follows a traditional model that emphasizes maintaining the status quo and focuses on making the correct actions in order to enhance team performance (Hackman & Johnson, 2004). However, that approach may work in settings where employees are required to work with products or processes that are constant.
Health outcomes rely on communication and flexibility, so the creative approach and individual consideration that characterize transformational leadership are applicable in healthcare settings better than transactional leadership. Finally, a study by Politis (2004) found that transformational leadership is better than transactional leadership because it is a better predictor of various stimulant factors for creativity in the workplace and because it simultaneously focuses on task management and relationship management.
Overall, some of the main results of transformational leadership are high employee retention rates and improved patient satisfaction (Smith, 2011), and those results are visible at the workplace, so it is possible to assume that my co-workers and I follow a transformational leadership style. While some of my co-workers, who are new to the system in place, may feel a slight discomfort in the beginning, they all eventually acquire more self-confidence and self-esteem to practice creativity and improve their job satisfaction in the process.
Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2004). Leadership: A communication perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Nielsen, K., Yarker, J., Randall, R., & Munir F. (2009). The mediating effects of team and self-efficacy on the relationship between transformational leadership, and job satisfaction and psychological well-being in healthcare professionals: A cross-sectional questionnaire survey. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46, 1236-1244.
Politis, J. D. (2004). Transformational and transactional leadership predictors of the ‘stimulant’determinants to creativity in organisational work environments. Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 2(2), 23-34.
Smith, M. A. (2011). Are you a transformational leader? Nursing Management, 42(9), 44-50.