Is anything called transactional leadership exists?

After writing my earlier blog post, I read number of books on transformational leadership. In one of his book, John Adair asked “Is anything called transactional leadership exists?” I got interest on his explanation and found that his statement is true but to some extent.

“I believe, that there can be no such thing as transactional leadership, for merely honouring mutual agreements meets none of the necessary conditions we identified for explaining why the term leader can be used for anyone.”

Those individual termed as ‘transactional’ leaders possess leadership skills but it is less transformational. Instead of using the word ‘less transformational’, researchers would have used ‘transactional’.

Transactional behavior exists and it is prevalent in this world. Transactional Leadership got into every discussion of Transformational Leadership because a) ‘transactional’ way of dealing things are very familiar to everyone b) contrasting two different methods are easier for understanding c) it is included as leadership to bring out the excellent concept of transformational leadership.

My Other posts on Transactional & Transformational Leadership:

1. Transactional Leadership Vs. Transformational Leadership

2. What are the components of Transformational Leadership?

Knowing & Switching Leadership Styles for Managerial Effectiveness

We discussed few topics like ‘What is Leadership?‘ and ‘Situational Leadership‘. Research on Leadership style model are usually based on orientation between Task behavior & Human Relationship behavior.

Basically, knowing these leadership styles helps us in adopting them in different situations. Though there could be one predominant leadership style as a whole for a person, he/she cannot just stick on to a particular leadership style always. Switching between the leadership styles is necessary in different project management situations to achieve success.

Like Hersey & Blanchard Situational Leadership model, William Reddin introduced a model of leadership style containing four basic types, namely:

1. High relationship orientation & high task orientation is called as INTEGRATED TYPE.

2. High relationship orientation & low task orientation is called as RELATED TYPE.

3. Low relationship orientation & high task orientation is called as DEDICATED TYPE.

4. Low relationship orientation & low task orientation is called as SEPARATED TYPE.

Further, by measuring the level of effectiveness of each style Reddin developed this basic model into eight leadership styles. The modified model is called “The 3-D Theory of Managerial Effectiveness.”

3-D Theory of Managerial Effectiveness

The below table shows the Less Effective & More Effective Leadership styles in each basic types. Even we can map the H&B Situational Leadership styles (Telling, Selling, Facilitating & Delegating) to Reddin 3D Theory model.

Less Effective Basic types More Effective
Deserter SEPARATED Bureaucratic
Missionary RELATED Developer
Autocratic DEDICATED Benevolent Autocratic
Compromiser INTEGRATED Executive




This is essentially a hand-off or laisser-faire approach : avoidance of any involvement or intervention which would upset the status; assuming a neutral attitude toward what is going on during the day; looking the other way to avoid enforcing rules; keeping out of the way of both supervisors and subordinates; avoidance of change and planning. The activities undertaken (or initiated) by managers who use this approach tend to be defensive in nature. People who achieve high scores may be adverse to managerial tasks or may have begun to lose interest in such tasks. This does not necessarily mean they are bad managers; they just try to maintain the status quo and avoid “rocking the boat”.



This is a legalistic and procedural approach: adherence to rules and procedures; acceptance of hierarchy of authority; preference of formal channels of communication. High scorers tend to be systematic. They function at their best in well structured situations where policies are clear, roles are well defined and criteria of performance are objective and universally applied. Because they insist on rational systems, these managers may be seen as autocratic, rigid or fussy. Because of their dependence on rules and procedures, they are hardly distinguished from autocratic managers.




This is an affective (supportive) approach. It emphasizes congeniality and positive climate in the work place. High scorers are sensitive to subordinates’ personal needs and concerns. They try to keep people happy by giving the most they can. Supportive behavior represents the positive component of this style. It has, however, a defensive counterpart. They may avoid or smooth over conflict, feel uncomfortable enforcing controls and find difficulty denying requests or making candid appraisals.



This is the objective counterpart of the missionary style. Objective in a sense that concern for people is expressed professionally: subordinates are allowed to participate in decision making and are given opportunities to express their views and to develop their potential. Their contribution is recognized and attention is given to their development. High scorers are likely to have optimistic beliefs about people wanting to work and produce. Their approach to subordinates is collegial: they like to share their knowledge and expertise with their subordinates and take pride in discovering and promoting talent.




This is a directive and controlling approach. Concern for production and output outweighs the concern for workers and their relationship. Managers who score high tend to be formal. They assign tasks to subordinates and watch implementation closely. Errors are not tolerated, and deviation from stated objectives or directives is forbidden. They make unilateral decisions and feel no need to explain or justify them. They minimize interaction with people, or limit communication to the essential demand of the task at hand. They believe in individual responsibility and consider group meetings a waste of time. They tend to be formal, straightforward and critical. For that reason, they are likely to be perceived as cold and arbitrary, particularly by subordinates who have strong need for support and reassurance.



This is the communicative counterpart of the autocratic style. It is still directive and interventionist. High scorers are seen as task masters who devote themselves comfortably to the accomplishment of production objectives. They enjoy tackling operational problems and may have less patience dealing with problems of human relation. They keep in touch with subordinates, instructing them, answering their questions and helping them with operational problems. They structure daily work, set objectives give orders or delegate with firm accountability. They would not hesitate to discipline or reprimand, but do that fairly and without antagonizing their subordinates. They meet group needs but ignore one-to-one personal relationship.




Express appreciation of both human relations orientation and task orientation. They however admit to difficulties in integrating them. Therefore they may vacillate between task requirements and demand for human relations. In order to alleviate immediate pressures, they may resort to compromise solutions or expediency. They may be sensitive to reality considerations which stand in the way, and willing to delay action for whatever reason, internal or external. Their realistic assessment of situations may explain why they do not use freely the approach they actually prefer, that is, the Executive approach.



This approach integrates task orientation and human relations orientation in response to realistic demand. It is best described as consultative, interactive, and problem solving approach. This approach is called for in managing operations which require exploration of alternative solutions, pooling different resources, and integrating opposing perspectives. They favor a team approach in problem solving, planning and decision making. They stimulate communication among subordinates, thus obtain collective ideas and suggestions. Managers who use this approach are usually perceived as good motivators who tend to deal openly with conflict and who try to obtain collective commitment.

There is a time and place for all of the leadership styles. If a leader has one tactic that he or she relies on almost all the time, it is almost certain to develop into a pattern or behavior, in other words a style.

The leader’s selection of a particular style in a situation will depend on:

· the individual personality of the person or persons led

· the frame of mind of the person or persons led

· the leader’s own current frame of mind

· the leader’s goals or objectives

· the relative power between the leader and those led

· the importance of time in the action the leader wants taken

· the type of commitment required to complete the desired action

· rules, laws, or authority of the leader in the situation