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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, EDUCATION (oxfordre.com/education). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

Transformational leadership is one of the most widely discussed and utilized notions that has risen to the forefront of educational administration. Transformational leadership was initially conceived of as a process whereby leaders strategically transform the system or organization to a higher level by increasing the achievement and motivation of their followers. Early theorists would also argue that transformational leadership and change are inexorably intertwined, which in turn underscored the importance of a leader’s ability to positively transform the attitudes, norms, institutions, behaviors, and actions that structure our daily lives. Later writers and researchers would gradually extend and develop the theory and argue that the goal of transformational leadership is to transform people as well as organizations. Early work on transformational leadership concentrated on politics, business, and the armed services, and the research emphasized the value of “followers” as a distinguishing factor present in the transformational leadership model. This distinction is likely what led scholars to apply its tenets to modern educational contexts, which are typically characterized by significant pressures to implement widespread reforms and change. In this regard, transformational leadership is often viewed as well suited to education as it empowers followers (i.e., instructors) and provides them with a sense of hope, optimism, and energy and defines the vision of productivity as they accomplish goals. Additionally, transformational leaders work toward influencing shared beliefs and values to create a comprehensive level of change and innovation and aim to nurture a school culture that is oriented toward a learning ethos, whereby such leaders seek to expand the capacities of each employee, enhance their ways of thinking, and promote individual ambition. In this way, learning and growth becomes a shared responsibility.

Transformational leadership has garnered significant attention and popularity. However, when viewed from a globalized and cross-cultural perspective it raises significant questions regarding generalization. One key question in the literature surrounding transformational leadership is whether the concept can be applied across national and organizational cultures. Theoretical education debates often focus on transformational leadership’s reliability and viability within educational environments, especially regarding how such environments define and handle change, organizational learning, institutional effectiveness and improvement, and enhancing student outcomes.

Keywords: transformational leadership, transactional leadership, change, innovation, culture

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