Sheilds, C. M. (2010). Transformative Leadership: Working for Equity in Diverse Contexts. Education administration quarterly, 46(4): 558-589.
This article builds on themes of social justice, diversity, inclusion, & equity by looking at transactional, transformational and transformative leadership theories. Transactional Leadership Theory begins with “a desired agreement or item” as leaders act to “ensure smooth & efficient organizational operation through transactions” (p. 564). I can envision this kind of leadership ending up as being bad for the institution as the actors involved are only in it for themselves.
Transformational leadership theory begins with a “need for the organization to run smoothly and efficiently” as leaders “look for motive, develops common purpose, and focuses on organizational goals” (p. 564). I think this is a very pragmatic view in which leaders look for common grounds to run an effective institution where staffs’ goals are aligned with the organizational group (department, school, board, government department). I think this kind of leadership is best for both institution and individuals. The theory added to my understanding because I thought it meant leadership to change, or “transform” people &/or society.
Transformative leadership theory begins with a recognition of the “material realities & disparities outside the organization that impinge of the success of individuals, groups, & the organization as a whole” as leaders act with moral courage as they live “with tension & challenges” (p. 564). It is leadership to change, or “transform” people &/or society. I think this kind of leadership is best for societal changes, but not necessarily best for the institutions or the individuals. I can even see situations whether the leader might act against her/his institution &/or its staff out for what s/he views as the “greater societal” good.
I think these theories can useful for practice in culturally diverse, democratic and socially progressive educational settings. Transactional leadership might be useful at a one-on-one level depending on the staff involved even if it’s not necessarily good for the institution or the organization. Transformational leadership would be useful at the individual and organizational level even though these leaders may be open to criticism for inaction again societal ills. Transformative leadership is most effective at the societal level but not necessarily at the individual &/or organizational level since their goals may oppose each other.