Transactionally Hindered

***As I progress through my doctoral program I will be placing some of my work on here. Please feel free to engage with me in the learning process and seeking greater depth in understanding of leadership, scripture, and life.

Question: How does transactional leadership style hinder followership within an organization?

Transactional leadership is used widely within organizations today. “Transactional leadership theory described by Burns (1978) posited the relationship between leaders and followers as a series of exchanges of gratification designed to maximize organizational and individual gains.” (McClesky, 2014, p.122)  “This can allow leaders to accomplish…performance objectives, complete required tasks, motivate followers through contractual agreement…emphasize extrinsic rewards, avoid unnecessary risks, and focus on improve organizational efficiency.” (McClesky, 2014, p.22)  Because of the back and forth relationship between leaders and followers that is created by transactional leadership, it can become the default leadership style for most leaders where they “learn to give clear expectations and exchange performance with affirmation or award” (Rumley,2011, p2077) when it is being used effectively.  So, transactional leadership is widely used, unfortunately, it is used at it’s lowest level rather than a healthy functional level.

When not used properly transactional leadership can create a lot of challenges for followers that can hinder their performance as well as experience in the organization. McClesky (2014) points out “Burns argued that transactional leadership practices lead followers to short-term relationships of exchange with the leader.” (p. 122) This elemental use of transactional leadership causes the leader-follower relationship to become “shallow, temporary exchanges of gratification and often create resentments between the participants.” (McClesky, 2014, p.122)

When operating properly, transactional leadership can be effective and useful, particularly alongside transformational leadership.  However, laziness and inattention to relational development between the leader and followers can make it ineffective and sometimes detrimental.


Burns, J. M. (2010). Leadership (1 edition.). New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
McCleskey, J. A. (2014). Situational, Transformational, and Transactional Leadership and Leadership Development. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 5(4), 117–130.
Rumley, D. (2011). Transformational Ministry: Leadership, Church Growth, and the Senior Pastor’s Effectiveness. Dr. David D. Rumley.


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