Prior to 1940, the dominant leadership theory was the so-called Trait Theory, which advocated that leaders were born leaders. Then came the time when leadership researchers started viewing behavior as a main ingredient for successful leadership (1940-60). In the 1960-80s, the Contingency Theory emphasized that effective leadership is dynamic. It changes as the environment changes (Bryman, 1992). We are currently in the New Leadership Research Period. We tend to micro-analyze the influence of the leader and how it leads to increased employee performance.

Are you a transactional or transformational leader?

The transactional leader set goals, articulate targets and establishes a carrot and stick system. The employees will be given a salary, promotions and honors in exchange of pre-defined assigned tasks and obedience to some rules. Indeed, there is an implicit contract between the leader and the followers. As work is sold, what makes the expectations satisfy the needs to be clear to both parties.

Contrary to the transactional leader, the transformational leader takes more advantage of the growth potential of the staff. Subordinates are seen first and foremost as persons. This may lead to increased creativity and willingness to go the extra mile for the company. Emotional attachment is created between the hired workforce and the brand. This way, the employees may develop a sense of proud for the company they work for. As the employee is asked for his opinion, a sense of belonging and meaningfulness brings positive energy to the everyday work just like putting fuel in a car.

The Charismatic Leadership Theory, which was first proposed by Max Web, suggests that charismatic leaders are particularly successful because they link the vision of the company to the desires and needs of the subordinates. This way, employees are willing to strive for the company’s mission. This kind of leader is someone the employee can genuinely feel loyal to and look up to. This inspirational dimension brings the dynamic and positive spirit from the top management to the whole company.

Intellectual stimulation, emotional bound and shared values may make work a very enjoyable part of life.