Numerous articles and books have been devoted to leadership styles in the realm of education. This paper will focus on the comparison of two styles: transformational and servant leadership. Both leadership types are gaining attention and they have similar strengths which give people reason to believe that either style may be appropriate to bring about real change in organizations (Stone, Russell, & Patterson 2003). The origins of transformational leadership can be traced to the 1978 publication by James McGregor Burns in which he discussed the ability of leaders, in many different jobs, to inspire staff to work with more energy, commitment, and purpose (Burns, 1978). Leaders believed that the commitment and energy could transform an organization by persuading colleagues to work together to achieve a vision. Over the years survey instruments have been created to assess the strengths of transformational leadership (Bass & Avilio, 1994). Many of these same instruments have been used in the studies of the theory of transformational leadership.
The purpose of servant leadership is to make sure that the leader's priority is to serve others, and to make sure that other people's needs are served before the leader's (Greenleaf, 1991). Interest has grown in the education community about the promise and influence of servant leadership. Servant leaders are special because their type of leadership skill set can inspire others to join in on their special vision of what a school should look like. There are teachers in the school who believe that the more autonomy they are given to make a choice, then the more free they feel and more willing they will be to work hard for the leader (Senge, 1990). An important reason for looking at both of these types of leadership is that styles are changing frequently with complacency growing which poses major challenges for school leaders today.