Big hat, no cattle

There are two kinds of leaders:

  • The transactional leader, who keeps the organization working towards well-defined goals and care mostly about efficiency and following an established process.
  • The transformational leader, who works to change the organization by inspiring the team to achieve new ideas and goals.

I find that the transactional leader is much maligned, accused of blindly following established processes and sacrificing effectiveness for the sake of efficiency. ┬áSurely there is a way to be a stupid transactional leader, but I often wish to see more efficiency-minded support leaders. Can we please recognize the contributions of transactional leaders who execute well? It’s always useful to question the status quo and (hint) conduct an experiment or two to test if the current process could be improved, but (pure) transformational leaders make me think of the Texan phrase Big hat, no cattle.

What kind(s) of leader are you?

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2 Comments

  • Peter R Reply

    I’d consider myself to be a transformational leader who believes that processes are good for some tasks but no process should be set in stone and should be constantly critically asessed by the user of the process. By that I mean that the people having to follow a process should be the ones creating the majority of it.

  • Marion Parrish Reply

    I’m a bit of both, depending on the situation. When the team has a stretch goal, it’s required to be a transactional leader. When there’s more breathing room, I need to shift gears to shift towards bigger picture thinking and establishing longer term objectives.

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