It has been acknowledged that different types of leadership exist. It is vital to choose the right type for a particular situation, organization or community. Transformational and servant leadership can be regarded as two most effective types of leadership. The two approaches have a lot in common, but differ significantly. These differences make the two styles applicable for different groups of people.
Comparing the Two Approaches
The transformational leader focuses on the needs and values of the organization. This leader tries to inspire people and make them share organizational values (Northouse, 2012). In a nutshell, the transformational leader makes employees motivated and interested in achieving certain goals. Likewise, the servant leader also strives for achieving certain goals. However, this leader does not focus on organizational values, but concentrates on people (Northouse, 2012). Thus, the servant leader is characterized by such features as awareness, empathy, persuasion, stewardship, healing, etc. (Echols, 2009). The servant leader is likely to be aware of each employee’s needs and problems. The servant leader will try to ensure that employee’s needs are met and people find themselves in favorable conditions to work and achieve goals.
It is possible to consider two people’s leadership approaches to understand the difference between the two types of leadership. My boss is a conspicuous example of transformational leadership. He tends to hold meetings where he tells us about the company’s goals, culture, values and news. Our boss makes us believe that the company is leading in its niche (it is true though). More importantly, he makes us proud of this fact. We are eager to invest our effort and time to achieve goals aimed at development of our company. Notably, no one can say that our boss is a close friend or, at least, understands our needs. We do not need his empathy as we are concentrated on our tasks and our mutual target.
Rev. Benson is a very different leader. Each member of our congregation can say that he is close to them and he knows about their problems and he often gives valuable pieces of advice. He is a friend and a mentor. He always listens to people and he tries to make them share major values. Remarkably, one of the most common tools Rev. Benson uses is persuasion.
The Most Effective Approach
Interestingly, I used to feel the difference between the two leaders I know. Nonetheless, now I know how exactly they are different. Theory helps systematize peculiarities of each approach. Theory also helps understand the situations when this or that type of leadership can be effective.
It is possible to note that transformational leadership is most effective in the business or political spheres. The leader inspires people to work hard to achieve specific goals. However, servant leadership is more applicable in spiritual sphere, e.g. religion, family, community, etc.
On balance, it is possible to state that different types of leadership fit different situations. Transformational leadership is better for business and politics, while servant leadership is better for family and community.
Echols, S. (2009). Transformational / servant leadership: A potential synergism for an inclusive leadership style. Journal of Religious Leadership, 8(2), 85-116.
Northouse, P.G. (2012). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.