Basic Features of Bass’s Multifactor Model of Leadership
Bass’s multifactor model of leadership distinguishes between two factors of effective leaders. The first of these is transactional leadership, which describes a leader who helps their followers achieve established goals by clarifying what a task requires of them.
The second factor is transformational leadership, which describes a leader who is able to put self-interest aside and inspire their followers to a higher level of achievement (Corrigan, Diwan, Campion and Rashid, 2002).
It should be noted however, that these factors are not mutually exclusive, as the most effective leaders tend to be both transactional and transformational (Robbins and Judge, 2009).
Transactional & Transformational Leadership Components
The multifactor model of leadership can be viewed as a hierarchical framework in terms of the effectiveness of its components (Landy, 2010).
At the bottom of the hierarchy is laissez-faire, which is considered to be the least effective leadership style. Above this are three layers of transactional leadership components:
1) Contingent Reward
A leader rewards favourable and punishes unfavourable follower behavior.
2) Active Management By Exception
A leader tends not to get involved when operations are proceeding according to plan.
3) Passive Management By Exception
A leader takes corrective action when their followers make a mistake or encounter a problem.
At the top of this hierarchical framework, are four layers of transformational leadership components which Bass argues as being the most important for effective leadership (Warr, 2002).
1) Idealised Influence
The leader becomes an idealised figure who is trusted by their followers.
2) Inspirational Motivation
The leader motivates and inspires their followers to achieve a future vision.
3) Intellectual Stimulation
The leader encourages creativity and innovation in their followers.
4) Individualised Consideration
The leader develops the unique abilities of their followers by treating them as individuals.
Assessing Leadership Style Using The Multifactor Framework
One method for assessing leadership style involves the use of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire which allows an individual to identify how they lead and how others view their leadership style (Bass and Avolio, 1990).
Transformational leaders for example, tend to score more highly than transactional leaders on emotional intelligence characteristics such as moral reasoning and ethics (Turner, Barling, Epitropaki, Butcher and Milner, 2002), which may partly explain how such leaders are able to gain trust and inspire their followers through idealised influence and inspirational motivation.
How individuals respond to a manager’s actions may also serve as an indication of the leadership style that they are exposed to. Bommer, Rich and Rubin (2005) for example, found that employees tended to be much less sceptical, and therefore more trusting, of organisational change when lead by a transformational leader.
Such leaders also tended to have wide social networks, perhaps because of their ability to display individualised consideration by treating their employees as individuals (Bono and Anderson, 2005).
On a multi-organisational level, a manager’s leadership style may also be reflected in the relative ease or difficulty their organisation has in merging with other organisations. Nemanich and Keller (2007) for example, found that mergers tended to occur most smoothly when they were lead by transformational leaders due to their ability to put their own self-interests aside and work towards the common good.
Although transactional and transformational leadership may be complementary to each other, transformational leadership appears to have the greatest influence on follower performance, something which is visible at both an individual and organisational level.
Bass, B.M., & Avolio, B.J. (1990). Transformational Leadership Development: Manual for the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.
Bommer, W.H., Rich, G.A., & Rubin, R.A. (2005). Changing attitudes about change: Longitudinal effects of transformation leader behavior on employee cynicism about organizational change. Journal of Organizational Behavior 26, 733-753.
Bono, J.E., & Anderson, M.H. (2005). Advice and influence networks of transformational leaders. Journal of Applied Psychology 90, 1306-1314.
Corrigan, P.W., Diwan, S., Campion, J., & Rashid, F. (2002). Transformational leadership and the mental health team. Administration and Policy in Mental Health 30, 97-108.
Landy, F.J. (2010). Work in the 21st century: an introduction to industrial and organizational psychology. Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell.
Nemanich, L.A., & Keller, R.T. (2007). Transformational leadership in an acquisition: A field study of employees. Leadership Quarterly 18, 49-68.
Robbins, S.P., & Judge, T.A. (2009). Organisational Behaviour (13th edition). Pearson Education International.
Turner, N., Barling, J., Epitropaki, O., Butcher, V., & Milner, C. (2002). Transformational leadership and moral reasoning. Journal of Applied Psychology 87, 304-311.
Warr, P.B. (2002). Psychology at Work. London: Penguin.