What Kind of Leader Do You Want to Be?

Fresh out of university with much leadership optimism, I ventured into a luminous experience as a technology consultant for our biggest Fortune 50 client. Hailed as the global number 1 for leadership development, Procter and Gamble (P&G) preserve a culture of building change leaders and difference-makers, no matter the stakeholder level (Russell Reynolds Associates, 2012). Never have I witnessed an organization with so many emergent and established leaders all under one roof; these kinds of leaders trailblaze together and contribute to multidimensional goals. This immersion deconstructed and advocated my appreciation for leadership styles that add value to individual/organizational growth.

Leadership Styles

Case studies of historical, military, international, women, and corporate leaders, both transformational and transactional leadership traits and characteristics are always active and effective (Arenas, 2019). The foremost transformational leadership characteristic is on selling ideas and visions through perpetual innovation and improvement that underscore growth (Maryville University, 2021). For example, transformational leaders challenge followers to go above and beyond what’s expected of them, to reach even more than the confines of their ambitions, much like in product development, sales, or innovation teams. On the other side, transactional leadership’s focused characteristic is on managing the status quo through structure, schedule, and tasks/duties (Xiaoxia and Jing, 2006). For example, transactional leaders challenge followers with verbal castigation on what’s expected of them and the consequences of their performances, much like in military/law enforcement environments. If transformational leaders’ traits are on advocating idealized influence (charisma), inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration, then transactional leaders’ traits are on promoting contingent rewards, management-by exception (corrective actions), and strong laissez-faire (Scoulier and Chapman, 2018). Moreover, a study involving 186 leaders reveal that there is a significant qualifiable correlation between the organization’s overall goal achievement and its leaders’ full range of traits and characteristics (Barbuto, 2005).

Without compromising its mature and structured organization, and with its 180-year history of producing Fortune 500 CEOs, P&G’s leadership credo enables the world-class organic progression of transformational and transactional leaders through in-house leadership programs and initiatives (P&G, 2020). To continuously hone its leaders (new hires, contingents, executives), P&G does it by putting a spotlight on consistently creating awareness on its values-based leadership (ownership, integrity, trust) and its build-from-within culture (beliefs, competencies, values) (McDonald, 2009). Regardless of the organization’s size, stakeholder’s diversity, and business’ complexity, P&G’s innovation-driven culture prove how transformational/transactional leadership traits/characteristics can be shared, succeeded, and sustained through professional development pillars and training/learning approaches.

Change Management

The best way to compare the two leadership styles is by fundamentally anchoring each on the leader’s vision and value chain as a baseline. With myriads of competing characteristics, priorities, and cultures, leaders need to be self-aware enough to emphasize their authenticity in harnessing strategies, maximizing motivations, and prioritizing stakeholders’ potentials (Betz, 2021). The application of leadership philosophies/theories and styles should align with a holistic focus of considerations (Akran, 2018). A leadership’s edge, particularly in ways of working with the vision, whether through transformation or transaction, demands higher collaboration and communication (Harvard Business Review, 2014). According to a 2016 academic research, utilizing transformational/transactional leadership with its right drivers for change can increase customer loyalty (10%), productivity (20%), profitability (21%), and reduce turnover (40%) (Matthews, 2018). Nevertheless, one interesting research confirms that for organizations in some regions: transformational leadership is still moderate, transactional style is more frequent; transformational leadership has a positive impact on performance, transactional has a negative impact (Rejas et al., 2006).

With P&G, from recruitment down to talent development, their leadership team offer personalized paths using unparalleled leadership training and development programs (rotational programs, 70/20/10 approach, succession planning frameworks) (Ong, 2017). I’ve observed that P&G gives tools to their leaders for reskilling and upskilling so that they won’t fully lean on certain styles of leadership that they are comfortable with. For example, if P&G sees you as an excellent transformational leader, they will place you in roles that are innovation-related, before a gradual exposure to operations-heavy (transactional) projects. P&G enables their leaders with research-proven formulas for synthesizing their strongest leadership traits to become an all-inclusive leader: one who can weave styles succinctly and synergistically. Some of P&G’s alumni who are now holistic transformational/transactional CEOs are Jeffrey Immelt (GE), Steven Ballmer (Microsoft), James McNerney (Boeing), and Margaret Whitman (eBay) (Belludi, 2006).

Reflection

Because P&G leads by example, I discern it is not impossible to cultivate a leadership culture that normalizes being multi-faceted. It is never enough that we can differentiate and discern our styles; it is always ideal to associate an optimal mix of leadership styles customized to the circumstance. With a clear vision, dynamic transformational/transactional leadership development can be synergized. I got influenced to strive and become an ethically “ambidextrous” self-leader: someone who can balance transformational and transactional styles notwithstanding any challenge, change, or weakness.

Now at a different university with renewed leadership optimism, this school and cohort learning experiences help foster a deeper breeding ground for holistic leadership growth.

This blogpost is intended to be interactive, so feel free to leave a comment in the section below or, alternatively, you can send a request to find out more about the academic references used in this article.

31 thoughts on “What Kind of Leader Do You Want to Be?

  1. A great read as usual. Thank you for sharing a very informative article. The layout and flow is examplary. I personally like the theme of differentiating transactional and transformatinoal leadership styles that impact changes in the organisation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good interactive learning blog with good examples in place. I concur on your reflection about to balance the adoption of using transformational and transactional styles notwithstanding any challenge, change, or weakness. Thanks for sharing. Look forward for your next blog soon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing this great writeue, especially on the case of P&G! It enlightens me that a good balance of transformational and trasactional leadership is vital towards the success of any organisation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As someone who has a first hand experience with P&G, your examples are on point. The leadership training provided by the company is unparalleled. I also agree that a perfect balance between transformational and transactional styles should be applied for different circumstances. Great read! Looking forward to your next blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your in-depth analysis of P&G case. Also, how you compare and contrast the difference between transformational and transactional leadership. Well research and great insights. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with your reflection. The various circumstances, team dynamics, and situational curveballs compel leaders to be flexible and apply different leadership styles to lead effectively. Truly an awesome read, thanks Eldrin!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great blog! Very interesting stories about &G with great examples of the theories. Keeps me wonder really, what kind of a leader I am in other people’s eye.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Learning a lot from your blogs! I agree on the balance and mix of different styles depending on the circumstance as long as you’re clear with the vision! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Eldrin, like the way you put it that transformational leaders challenge followers to go above and beyond what’s expected of them, to reach even more than the confines of their ambitions, much like in product development, sales, or innovation teams. On the other side, transactional leadership’s focused characteristic is on managing the status quo through structure, schedule, and tasks/duties. I feel this is the key difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Again, impressive use of graphics to explain on the topic. Agree that there is no one best from of leadership style and one has to switch styles depending on the situation. Great illustration with the use of P&G company. Really looking forward to your next post

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great article again from Eldrin. The introduction of Transformational/ Transactional leadership should be more widely applied as according to the research and a very practical example of P&G’s innovation-driven culture prove how can be shared, succeeded, and sustained through professional development pillars and training/learning approaches.

    Looking forward the upcoming article.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great read again, as usual Eldrin! I strongly relate on the importance of utilising transactional and transformational styles with the correct drivers. I believe this is the most important part, to use the tools and techniques with the right underlying factors, not just for the sake of using them. Neither style is also better than the other, both have their strengths and suitability depending on the situation. Thanks for the article!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For me, your example of P&G is impressive. What you discerned about cultivating a leadership culture is accurate in the present society.
    Appreciate you sharing your excellent article.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Communication is the key, as well as, openness. Remember that there are things we can’t control and to resist a change will only hinder our growth. It is the leader’s role and ability to make the people understand that adapting to change and embracing it will always be successful especially if the approach of implementation is simple, concrete and credible. Another master piece about LCW, way to go Eldrin!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good article. I do agree that good corporate should provide training for their leaders to reskill different types of style (like what P&G). However, it would even be better if employees are constantly ‘upgrade’ through seminars and external training to get them the ability to adapt to all sort of situation and types of leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good referencing about P&G! I agree that a multi-faceted organization maximizes the output of a contagious and embedded culture of excellence 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Both styles are sometimes effective and I love the part of reflection. It will be good if we can balance out or mix both styles depending on the situation. Great article. Thanks for sharing Eldrin!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Really like the part where you differentiate the characteristic of those two leadership styles. Not to compare which one is better, but to potray how great the balance mix of them can be.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Eldrin, thanks for sharing. Your analysis of the characteristics of these two types of leadership and how they lead change is very delicate, and I have been inspired a lot. I agree with you that it is not enough to distinguish our leadership style. Effective management must have a variety of leadership abilities to develop the best combination of leadership styles according to different situations, just like many successful leaders, such as Jack Ma and Bill Gates, they are both considered transactional leaders and transformational leaders .

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great and interesting write-up on the difference between transformational and transactional leadership! As with all leadership styles, there will be appropriate times to apply the strengths and benefits of each style with P&G serving as the shining example to follow!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It has been a complete culture shock for me when I moved from an organization with predominantly transformational leaders to an organization of mostly transactional (conformist) leaders. While I agree there must be a balance between two leadership styles, sometimes it’s challenging for new leaders to apply multiple styles due to organization’s culture. Sometimes they’re restricted by the organization’s norm, bureaucracy and hierarchy. Traditional way of managing and leading organizations should be a thing of the past, empowering team excellence is the way to move towards the future. Thanks for sharing this article Eldrin!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for sharing your P&G case study and your own thoughts.
    I fully agree that it is worth striving for transformational leadership and that a toolkit of different leadership styles is useful to apply depending on the situation (situational leadership).
    We are far beyond the one dimensional leadership styles like “authoritative” and I personally appreciate the variety of leadership styles that can be used on a case by case basis like for example Coaching / Servant / Authentic Leadership styles to tease out a transformational leadership experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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