You are here

Literature Review

2 March, 2015 - 11:57
Available under Creative Commons-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Download for free at

Below is a narrative review of literatures that compare and contrast two leadership styles: transformational leadership and servant leadership. Overall, according to the literatures the conceptual framework for each leadership style is very similar. Still, there is one underlining factor that causes the two leadership styles to differ. While one factor may seem minuet, the factor in question can cause an overwhelming difference within an organization. With the studies, we will analyze (a) transformational leadership, (b) servant leadership; and (c) the difference between the two leadership styles. When the literatures are combined, it appears that while the two leadership styles are very similar, arguably there is at least one difference.

Transformational leadership is concerned with the performance of followers and also with developing followers to their fullest potential (Bass & Avolio, 1990a). A. Gregory Stone, Robert F. Russell, and Kathleen Peterson (2003). A. Gregory Stone, Robert F. Russell, and Kathleen Peterson (2003) was of assistance in supporting the current study of the relationship between transformational and servant leadership. The study conducted by Stone et al. (2003) was not based on school leaders, but instead focused on various leaders within organizations. The study proved important in validating the current study because the authors' purpose was similar to that of the current study. Stone, Russell, and Peterson (2003) compared the difference between transformational and servant leadership. The validity and importance of the study was verified through other studies and articles that used the same characteristics and qualities when describing the two leadership styles (Stone et al. 2003). For example, according to Farling, Stone, and Winston (1999), servant leaders provide vision, gain credibility and trust from followers, and influence others. Comparably, Bass (1985) said transformational leaders transform the personal values of followers to support the vision and goals of the organization by fostering an environment where relationships can be formed and by establishing a climate of trust in which visions can be shared. Within each statement from these different studies, the authors used two characteristics that are important in the conceptual framework of both leadership styles: trust and vision. It was noted that the concepts hold many similarities, and they are complementary theories in many respects. Nonetheless, they ultimately form a distinctly separate theoretical framework of leadership because of one primary difference. The difference is reflected in the following statement by A. Gregory Stone, Robert F. Russell, and Kathleen Peterson (2003):

The principal difference between transformational leadership and servant leadership is the focus of the leader. While transformational leaders and servant leaders both show concern for their followers, the overriding focus of the servant leader is upon service to their followers. The transformational leader has a greater concern for getting followers to engage in and support organizational objectives.

Given the information presented, it appears that both leadership styles have advantages and can bring real change in organizations. The world has become more complicated, and dynamic times require dynamic driven leaders (Williams 1998). Transformational leadership and servant leadership offer conceptual frameworks that may prove beneficial in managing and leading our educational environments during these changing times.