Leadership Styles Essay

Pages: 8 (2527 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

328). This makes sense when one considers the role of an employee working in a government agency, because having one's own individual experience taken into account and effectively coordinated with the entire organization's effort becomes much more important when that individual experience is only one in a collection of millions of employees, working on everything from national defense to consumer standards. To effectively lead such a varied and dense organization, a President almost has to deploy a transformational leadership strategy, particularly if he or she is to enact the perceived mandate of the election, because this is the only means of effectively mobilizing such a disparate group of people towards common goals.

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When dealing with the legislative branch, on the other hand, the President will frequently be compelled to deploy a transactional leadership strategy, because this is the method most conducive for leading people with differing and sometimes conflicting agendas. This is true regardless of whether the legislative branch is controlled by members of the same political party, because even then members of Congress are ultimately beholden to their particular constituents, whereas the President is beholden to the entire country. In other words, the President must deploy a leadership strategy that includes the individualized consideration of each Congress members local needs, something that is integral to transactional leadership. A transactional leadership style can succeed in this context because it allows for differing goals while providing clear-cut incentives for people to work together. For example, a President will likely have more success working with Congress if he or she deploys a leadership strategy based on negotiating clear-cut rewards or punishments in the form of what each party will accept in a piece of legislation.

Essay on Leadership Styles in Many Ways Assignment

The interactions between a President and Congress is a helpful tool for demonstrating the relative strengths and weaknesses of each leadership style, because recent history includes two well-known examples where Presidents elected in large part due to their charisma and transformational style were faced with a Congress that would not budge except for in those instances where a transactional style was deployed. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were extremely successful campaigners due to their personal charisma, and they were elected with a perceived mandate for transformation and dramatic change (partially due to the fact that in both cases they were elected following at least eight years of leadership from the opposing party). However, in both cases they were met with a highly resistant and oppositional Congress, to the point that Bill Clinton was actually impeached. Even so, both Presidents were ultimately able to work with Congress by adopting a transactional leadership strategy that acknowledged their very deep-seated differences while agreeing on mutually beneficial compromises.

Examining the different leadership strategies seen in the United States helps illuminate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each, but it can also reveal some of the problems that arise due to the particular form of American elections and governance. For example, the primacy of charismatic leadership during the campaign sometimes produces candidates who are personally appealing but lack the leadership skills necessary to oversee the government, while the need to deploy a transactional strategy when dealing with political opponents runs the risk of ethically questionable behavior committed in the name of things running smoothly. Many of these issues are structural, and beyond the power of any one leader to change; for example, the structure of the government laid out in the Constitution all but guarantees that members of Congress will frequently place their local interests over the interests of the population as a whole, and thus there is fairly little the President can do.

However, one major thing that is within the President's power is the way in which leadership is discussed in the first place, and simply by acknowledging the different kinds of leadership and their respective uses, the President could actually go a long ways towards diminishing the effect of those structural issues that result in acrimony, disharmony, and ill-qualified leaders. This would require discussing and making explicit one's own theory of leadership by bringing in the kind of terms and definitions that is usually reserved for academia. Not only would this reduce the effectiveness of charismatic leadership during the election, it would also have the effect of informing followers, whether subordinates in the executive branch or opponents in the legislative, precisely why the President is doing or saying any particular thing. Essentially, the President could outline his or her theoretical basis of leadership (independent of any particular policy), in the same way that good managers give their subordinates clear instructions and expectations. Though this is largely a rhetorical shift, it would go a long way towards improving the selection of leaders in America.

Examining the different leadership styles on display in the United States allows one to not only understand the theory and practice of those styles, but also how certain situations and contexts encourage or discourage the use of these styles. Furthermore, by Examining how different styles are more or less successful in different contexts, one can better understand how these different leadership styles are both the result and continuing cause of many of the governance issues facing the United States today. Elections, by their nature, favor charismatic leadership, while the actual governance of the country favors transformational and transactional leadership, depending on whether the leader is dealing with subordinates, allies, or opponents. By making his or her leadership style and theoretical underpinnings clear from the get-go, leaders could actually change the way different leadership styles are treated in the American political world, which could go a long ways toward refining and heightening the quality of leader produced by the electoral process.


Green, D.D., & Roberts, G.E. (2012). Transformational leadership in a postmodern world: The presidential election of barack obama. Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 11(1),


Howell, J.M., & Avolio, B.J. (1992). The ethics of charismatic leadership: Submission or liberation? The Executive, 6(2), 43-54.

Trottier, T., Wart, M.V., & Wang, X. (2008). Examining the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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