Transformational Versus Servant Leadership

Transformational Versus Servant Leadership

Transformational leadership takes place when the leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees as well as raise awareness and acceptance of the goals of a group coupled with stirring employees to look beyond their safe interest for the benefit of the organization. All employees of a particular organization are encouraged to subordinate their interests for the success of a group or organization(Choudhary, Akhtar, & Zaheer, 2013). Transformational leadership is all about being committed to achieving the objectives of a team and empowering all the staff to accomplish those objectives. The overall goal of transformational leadership is to have enhanced follower performance.

Transformational leadership is concerned with progress and development and such leaders transform the personal values of followers so that they can support the vision and goals of the organization. Such leadership fosters an environment where relationships can be formed as well as establishes a climate of trust for the sharing of visions (Van Dierendonck, et al 2014). There are four behaviors characteristic of transformational leadership which include the idealized/charismatic influence as well as inspirational motivation to employees. Intellectual stimulation of staff and individualized consideration are also critical traits in a transformational leader.

Transformational leaders are role models admired, respected and emulated by their followers and this amounts to idealized influence. Such leaders inspire and motivate others by offering meaning as well as challenging their followers so that they work. Intellectual stimulation occurs when leaders challenge their followers to be innovative and creative through problem-solving and approaching different situations in new ways (Choudhary, Akhtar, & Zaheer, 2013). Transformational leaders focus on giving personal attention to followers based on their unique needs as well as demonstrates two-way communication. The transformational leaders ultimately gain a potent influence over their followers given the values they uphold and strategies used.

Servant leadership is attributed to Robert Greenleaf who stated that effective leadership must meet the needs of others. The primary focus of servant leadership is others and not just the self-interest of the leader. A servant leader primarily aims at meeting the needs of employees through developing people, helping them to strive and flourish. Servant leaders act as a source of influence for others through providing a vision, which allows them to gain credibility and trust from the followers (Van Dierendonck, et al 2014). Servant leadership is grounded in vision, honesty, integrity, trust, and service. It is also based on modelling, pioneering, and appreciation of others and above all empowerment.

Transformational and servant leadership styles are similar in that they incorporate influence, vision, trust, respect, credibility, risk sharing, and delegation, integrity and modelling. Both theories emphasize the crucial task of appreciating and valuing people, listening, training, and empowering them. However, the approaches differ in that servant leadership places a lot of emphasis on serving people, unlike the transformational leadership style (Seto, & Sarros, 2016). A transformational leader is concerned with getting the employees to perform tasks aimed at meeting the goals and objectives of the organization. A transformational leader keeps his or her focus on the organization, unlike a servant leader who has more emphasis on the employees.

In conclusion, leaders should choose the leadership style that would best suit the needs of their respective organizations. Transformational and servant leadership styles form some of the approaches that can be used for leadership with their advantages and limitations. There is a need for leaders to select the most appropriate technique or attributes of a leadership style to apply in different scenarios. Servant and transformational leadership styles can therefore be used hand in hand since there are times when one should lay much emphasis on organizational goals and other times place more focus on the needs of employees.


Choudhary, A. I., Akhtar, S. A., & Zaheer, A. (2013). Impact of transformational and servant leadership on organizational performance: A comparative analysis. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(2), 433-440.

Van Dierendonck, D., Stam, D., Boersma, P., De Windt, N., & Alkema, J. (2014). Same difference? Exploring the differential mechanisms linking servant leadership and transformational leadership to follower outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(3), 544-562.

Seto, S., & Sarros, J. C. (2016). Servant Leadership Influence on Trust and Quality Relationship in Organizational Settings. International Leadership Journal, 8(3).