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Leadership for Lean Manufacturing

Transactional Leadership

Activities & Competencies

Transactional leaders use conventional reward and punishment to gain compliance from their followers. They have continuing, often unspoken interaction that take such forms as:

"Do as I say and you will get a raise."

"Meet this quota or you will get fired."

These are extrinsic motivators that bring only minimal compliance from followers. Some followers will supply their own internal (intrinsic) motivation such as pride in their work, but this is a matter of chance.

Transactional leaders accept the goals, structure and culture of the existing organization. They must do so because this type of leadership is ineffective at bringing significant change.

Personal Characteristics

Transactional leaders tend to be directive and sometimes dominating. They tend to be action oriented.

Some transactional leaders adopt this approach because they are unaware of the effect it has on followers. Others may take pleasure in it.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt-wartime leaderApplication Level

Transactional Leadership is the lowest level. It works only where the organizational problems are simple, clear and technical in nature.

Transactional leadership has often been associated with the military. However, successful militaries have long known that it is ineffective.

Of course, every formal leader uses transactional leadership at times. In certain situations it is necessary and effective.

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Level Activities & Competencies Personal Characteristics


  • Accepts Organizational Goals
  • Uses Extrinsic Motivators
  • Works Within  Existing System
  • Takes Action
  • Directive
  • Dominating
  • Action-Oriented

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SEP 2007     

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