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News: Associations News

Transactional or Charismatic leadership – a shift in the right direction?

11 May 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Olivia Palmer
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If you search Amazon.com using the term “leadership”, Amazon will return 276,708 results. People have been writing about leadership since ancient times:

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm…Publilius Syrus, 1st century BC

Know thyself…Plato, 4th century BC

Treating people with respect will gain one wide acceptance and improve the business…Tao Zhu Gong, 5th century BC

If we try, we could probably find writings on leadership in the original Sumerian writing system from 2,600 B.C.!

Good leaders do some very important things. They:

  • Manage and inspire the human side of their enterprise – developing a vision, sharing and living values and building a great team.
  • Find ways to get growth and ever better performance out of the business they run today.
  • Have a shrewd vision of what tomorrow’s business will be, and steer their company into a position to prosper in the future.


Leadership styles have evolved with time and society. In the “Mad Men” days, the dominant leadership style was “transactional”. The leader influenced the team through an equitable exchange or transaction based on self-interests of both, i.e. “You do this work and you’ll get this pay.” (This was also known, at times as “my way or the highway” leadership.)


“Charismatic” leadership occurs when followers attribute heroic or extraordinary leadership abilities to their leaders. Although this could mean “cult” (Richard Manson), it could also show up in such corporate stalwarts as Apple with Steve Jobs or the Virgin Group with Richard Branson.


Recently, much has been written about “transformational” leaders, who are known for:

  • Creating trust among all team members.
  • Creating alignment within the team.
  • Having an orientation toward success.
  • Displaying genuine interest in followers and consideration for all individuals inside and outside of the team.
  • Respecting and supporting all team members.

Teams that embrace transformational principles are typically high-performing, goal-oriented groups that operate beyond self-interest and with high moral and ethical values, shared by all.

According to a study by publisher McGraw-Hill, leadership trends in 2012 included:

  • Leaders don’t have to be perfect but they do need to be honest and authentic.
  • Leaders will use their expertise to deliver bottom line profits AND commit to tackling social problems.
  • Leaders will drive more conversation about LEAN principles and continuous improvement.


Looking even further out, a compilation of key leadership competencies for 2020 include:

  • Collaborative orientation
  • Developer of people
  • Learning agility
  • Digitally proficient
  • Global mindset including cultural agility
  • Conscious capitalist/green focus
  • Future focus
  • Adaptability/change orientation
  • Innovative/creative champion
  • 360 communicator
  • Able to thrive on complexity and chaos

    There is nothing natural in organisations of human beings except chaos. It takes strong leadership (and skilful management) to create followers, individuals who decide to align with the leader and the team for the good of the whole and the mission.
Author: Paul Taylor of Taylored Resolutions & National Secretary for the Association of Speakers Clubs. Paul specialises in leadership and business transformation with expertise in the Association sector. Paul will be leading the Association Leaders’ Forum on 3rd July 2017 in London.

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