British leadership scholar Christopher Bones points out that leaders of modern organizations, particularly leaders of human resource departments, tend to blend notions of effective management and leadership without even realizing it. He cites a recent UK study on training needs that identified a series of problems related to leadership skills where the list of identified gaps included problems with people management, performance management, change management, strategic thinking, coaching and mentoring, communication/ interpersonal skills and innovation— “skill gaps,” which Bones stresses do not “address the fundamentals of leadership; all are skills we require in managers at just about every level of the organization.” Bones believes that “this reflects a muddle amongst HR people specifically and the wider management population generally.” Identifying leadership skills is, therefore, imperative to understanding how they differ from management skills. Certain managerial skills are useful for the leader, and vice versa, but the roles of leader and manager fundamentally differ.
The Leader and Transformational Leadership
American leadership scholar James MacGregor Burns outlines the implicit ideal of power and morality as crucial components of effective leadership but also articulates two key forms of leadership that a leader may possess, including his pioneering concept of “transformational leadership,” representing intellectual leaders who focus on ideas for moral power; reform leaders; revolutionary leaders; and heroic leaders, and “transactional leadership,” representing opinion leaders, group leaders, party leaders, legislative leaders and executive leaders.
In the contemporary business and political worlds, we might tend to focus more on the transactional leader, but, arguably, transformational leaders are profoundly important as they are likely to affect and influence the masses. However, each of these leadership types can be found in the effective leader, and both can certainly be identified in Moses’ model of leadership.
Whereas a transactional leader might be found leading smaller-scale changes due to the focus on “the basic, daily stuff of politics,” with modest change the result, transformational leadership is the leadership style of profound change— “revolutions that replace one structure of power with another.” After all, Moses succeeded as a transformational leader as he transformed the Israelites from slaves in Egypt into a functioning society in the wilderness. Transformational leadership also arguably reflects visionary leadership because focus on the “big picture,” the ability to inspire the masses toward achieving meaning within that big picture, is enhanced by the skills of the visionary.
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