Always being compared with transactional leadership, transformational leadership is one of the most prominent styles practiced by leaders. This works under the premise that the leader should work with his or her followers or subordinates to achieve common goals and changes. These are the leaders inspire, motivate and lead followers to a direction that both parties find to be beneficial and important for everybody. They also have the means to make their followers share the same enthusiasm they possess and think of the betterment of many than just one person. This type of leadership is one that makes people perform better and maximize their potential. However, despite the benefits attributed to transformational leadership, there are also numerous flaws seen by critics. Take a look at the aspects that make this leadership style not appealing to others.
1. Influence Can Backfire
Transformational leaders are great motivators and visionaries. They have the charisma to talk people into making changes and following goals together as one. These types of leaders are able to motivate and convert people to believe in what they represent. Although this can be effective in achieving goals easily with less or no objections, this can have a negative impact if the leader is immoral or is self-serving. If the leader is a risk-taker who will make decisions that are not well thought and can result to something negative, chances are, the subordinates will be the ones to be put in line.
2. Can Result to Wrong Decisions
Since transformational leaders, say, of nations can stimulate the minds of their followers, they can make these people agree and supportive o f the plans and actions of the government. With the authority and confidence given to these leaders, there can be instances where leaders can make harsh and abrupt decisions out of emotions which can be detrimental to the people. And since these leaders are believable and have the charm to entice others, decisions that are not in the best interests of the majority can be carried out and in the end, have negative implications.
3. Employee Burn Out
A transformational leader in an organization has may plans and is open to change and development. These are helpful because these show that the management has long-term plans. Moreover, employees also become hopeful and inspired to attain these goals. In a nutshell, the management and its subordinates share their dreams and work together. This also makes the subordinate feel that they are part of the team. Albeit, this can be disadvantageous if people are made to work long hours and obliged to go beyond their tasks to achieve the goals of the organization. In the end, they will be tired and dissatisfied because they will feel that they are taken advantage of.
4. Assumption of Motivation
This leadership style tries to let subordinates and followers feel that they have common goals that need to be accomplished. Also, transformational leaders often think or assume that people under them will always agree with their ideas and become motivated all the time. This becomes a setback since there will be situations in which changes should be made. If a particular transformational leader is unaware of this, these changes will not take place since subordinates are thought to still having the same views with the management.
Critics of this leadership style say that followers or subordinates of a persuasive and charismatic transformational leader can be made to fulfill the vision of their leader even if this is deceptive and without merit. And without the assurance that the direction where the leader leads them or the plans he or she has are for correct and necessary for the betterment of the organization and its people. If the leader has bad plans, followers might be deceived and be lured to go with whatever decisions the leader makes.
When it comes to encouraging team members, transformational leaders have the tendency to coach and mentor only selected groups of individuals. Although this can lead to leadership trainings and enhancement of knowledge within the organization, these opportunities are only given to selected individuals. This will be problematic because not all the needs of the team members as a while are met since priority might be given only to preferred individuals.
7. Challenges in Details
Although transformational leadership model has benefits like having a vision and long-term plans, critics say that these can leave details out of the picture which can have a negative impact on the organization. This is because these leaders can have a difficult time with detail orientation. Having said this, organizations under a transformational leader might suffer in the long run especially if there are no right people to assist or handle the details in carrying out the long-term plan of the organization.
8. Overlooking Reality
Transformational leaders, being motivators and movers of change, are passionate about their goals. This is an effective way to communicate better to their subordinates and followers. However, this can also be a reason for them to ignore what the real problems are as well as the truth. This is because these people are the type who rely on enthusiasm and believe that things can happen if everyone will part of the movement, so to speak. These can be a barrier or obstruction for these leaders to research or look deeper into the situation.
9. Unidirectional Influence
In organizations where transformational leadership style is practiced, subordinates are motivated and influenced to do what is for the good of the organization and not the other way around. In effect, the only one that is benefitting is the organization itself and yet it appears that employees and the organization have the same vision. For critics, this can be a form of deception since there is only unidirectional influence, from that of the leader to the follower.
10. Not Always Effective
Transformational leadership style can motivate followers or individuals and even uplift the morale of people but this style is not applicable all the time. In an organization where employees see their leader as someone like them, it might be possible that a transformational leader might not be an effective motivator since followers will rely on their own perceptions instead.
Transformational leadership style has its merits and these have worked in most organizations. However, there are also disadvantages to consider. Knowing what they are will be helpful to organizations in determining if this is the leadership style they need in achieving their goals.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.