Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Transformational vs Transactional Leadership

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Transformational vs Transactional Leadership

The transformational style of leadership offers vision, enthusiasm, and creates a path for those who are following to do so. It enlarges the interests of employees and generates an acceptance of the mission of the group (Hay, n.d.).

Jack Welsh of GE was acting in a transformational manner when he introduced Six Sigma manufacturing to the company, (originally developed by Motorola). This concept used the statistical metric of six standard deviations from the mean as the standard (not just the goal) of the level of acceptable defects in manufacturing at GE. He also established the doctrine of divesting GE of companies in which GE was not first or second in the market. This took GE from a $14 billion company in 1980 to a $ 410 billion company in 2000 (GE, 2012).

Another transformational leader, irrespective your political leanings, is Barack Obama. His willingness to risk his entire Presidency on passing The Affordable Care Act was visionary and courageous. The impact this law will have on future generations is as immeasurable as was Social Security and Medicare when they were first passed. Some say it will benefit the country, others say it will not. Notwithstanding personal views on the matter, the passage of that act was transformational (, 2012)

George Bush spoke in transformational rhetorical terms and attempted to become a transformational leader by using the 9/11 attacks as having “changed the world”. Yet he used transactional remedies to this ostensibly new threat by simply going to war with two countries, one of which for suspicious, indeterminate and poorly articulated reasons. This has been a common response throughout history and ended up having little effect on the nature or cause of terrorism. It simply suppressed it for a period of time by virtue of force. Nothing has been transformed (Bush Center, 2012)

Leaders of companies, in general, who believe that slogans, catch phrases, (we’re Number 1!) and oft repeated mantras of using the “highest quality products” and “exceeding your expectations” are attempting to use transformational rhetoric as a substitution for genuine transformational messages. These leaders seek to manipulate and deceive rather than motivate and encourage.

They are not leaders. They are frauds.

Bush Center. (2012)
G.E. (2012)
Hay, I. (n.d.). Transformational leadership: Characteristics and criticisms. Retrieved from
U.S. Government. (2012)


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