Originally posted November 27, 2015.
A post-Thanksgiving dinner brought the topic of my paper on Charles A. Lockwood,’s leadership during the Second World War and the feedback of the host was especially appreciated due to his prior service as an officer in the U.S. Navy:
“You wrote that Lockwood had both ‘transactional’ and ‘transformational’ leadership skills. Do you think most leaders have both types of leadership skills? Do you think a good leader must have both?”
It’s my opinion (based off of my time in the Army), that there are leaders with any combination of the two, primarily, just like there are leaders with neither or both. In looking at the two categories, I had to stop and consider that there may even be more classifications which have not been defined yet that are out there. Sticking with the two and not getting too wrapped up in that tangent, however, yes… absolutely a good leader must have both – and the wisdom to shift between the two…
(Normally, I would go back and re-edit the above comment in light of a change of stance, but in this case, I will leave it there to allow a better understanding of the development of an idea)
I’m not a big fan of firm labels for ideas, most of the time… they tend to be too fixed and rigid in conveying the basis of an idea. I’m sure that there are fine leaders out there with a strength in “transactional” leadership, but rate poorly during organizational transformations and vice versa, so having a definite “one is better, both is ideal” belief seems to be somewhat hypocritical in what I mean. Some friends and I actually got into a deep discussion about this in between rounds of turkey today, and the best point was made by a retired Navy LtCdr. in that “leadership is somewhat intangible”. Kind of like good turkey – you know it is good, and you have an idea of the ingredients and the conditions that went into making it taste good, but it is difficult to accurately identify what makes it good. Perhaps the definition is in the reactions of people who are eating it at the moment. Make sense?
…Excuse the meandering point. Ate too much, talked too much, and too many ideas are floating around – my favorite kind of ideas.