LookingforClues by IE1eG8



                                 Looking For Clues:
           Identifying the Antecedents of Cognitive Differences in Leaders


       Wofford and his associates (Wofford & Goodwin, 1994; Wofford, Goodwin, &

Whittington, 1998) found significant differences between the cognitive processes of

transformational leaders and those of transactional leaders. They suggested that an

explanation for this variation may be related to the experiences these leaders have had.

This paper seeks to develop a more thorough understanding of these differences by

examining the potential developmental antecedents of these cognitive processes. A cross-

disciplinary approach is used to develop a set of propositions that will assist in the

identification and development of transformational leaders.

                                 Looking For Clues:
           Identifying the Antecedents of Cognitive Differences in Leaders

       The social scientific approach to leadership has recently been dominated by the

transformational-transactional leadership or “full-range leadership” paradigm (Avolio,

1999; Bass & Riggio, 2006). The outcomes associated with transformational leadership

are impressive. Transformational leadership has been consistently linked to a number of

positive outcomes across samples and cultures (Lowe, Kroeck and Sivasubramaniam,

1996; Bass & Riggio, 2006) This consistency of results across organizational settings and

geographic boundaries has led some scholars to view transformational leadership as an

unbounded, “universal” theory (Bass, 1997; Bass & Riggio, 2006).

       Substantial research has been devoted to examining the outcomes of

transformational leadership, but there has been very little work done on the antecedents

of transformational leadership. One notable exception is the work of Wofford and his

associates (Wofford & Goodwin, 1994; Wofford, Goodwin, & Whittington, 1998) who

sought to develop a cognitive approach to understanding the behavioral differences

between leaders who were identified as transformational and those who were

transactional. Wofford et al. (1998) found that the cognitive processes of

transformational leaders were significantly different from those of transactional leaders.

They suggested that an explanation for this variation in memory organization may be

related to the type of experience these leaders have had.

       In this paper, an effort is made to develop a more thorough understanding of these

differences by examining the potential developmental antecedents of these cognitive

processes. Identification of these antecedents is an important step in predicating the

emergence of transformational leaders in a wide variety of social and organizational

settings. Several cross-disciplinary approaches are utilized to develop an important

addition to a comprehensive integrative model of transformational leadership.

       This effort begins with an overview of the transactional-transformational

leadership paradigm. Then, the cognitive processes approach developed by Wofford and

his associates is examined. Finally, a multidisciplinary approach is used to develop

several propositions concerning the developmental antecedents to the cognitive

differences identified in Wofford‟s cognitive process model (Wofford & Goodwin, 1994;

Wofford, Goodwin, & Whittington, 1998).

The Transactional-Transformational Leadership Paradigm

       The recent emphasis in the social-scientific approach to transactional and

transformational leadership is based on the works of historian and political scientist

James MacGregor Burns (1978; 2004). In Leadership (1978), Burns identified two forms

of leadership: transactional and transforming. In his conception, transactional leadership

occurs when individuals enter into a bargaining process for a mutually beneficial

exchange, but not necessarily to develop an enduring relationship. The relationship is

initiated for the purpose of exchanging something of value.

       In contrast to this exchange-based relationship, transforming leadership occurs

when individuals engage with each other in such a way as to create an enduring

relationship in which the leader and follower raise one another to higher levels of

motivation and morality. Although their purposes may begin as separate but related, they

eventually become fused into a linkage of power bases that provide support for both

members of the relationship.

       Burns‟ original conceptions of transactional and transforming leadership were

operationalized and modified somewhat by Bass and his associates (Bass, 1985; Bass &

Avolio, 1994; Avolio, 1999) as transactional and transformational leadership. In a

revision of Burns‟ (1978) original view, Bass (1985) contended that transactional and

transformational leadership behaviors were not fundamentally different but rather

complementary sets of behaviors. This revision has been extended into what Avolio

(1999) and Bass and Riggio (2006) refer to as a full-range model of leadership.

According to this perspective, effective leaders use both transformational and

transactional behaviors when those behaviors are the most appropriate in the particular

situation. Accordingly, transformational leadership may be used either independently

from or in conjunction with transactional leadership (Wofford & Goodwin, 1994). Thus,

it is important to understand each set of leader behaviors in order to grasp the benefits of

the full-range model.

Transactional leadership

        Transactional leadership is a process that emphasizes the transactions or

exchanges that take place between leaders and their followers. This exchange could

involve economic, political or psychological objects of value. In organizational settings,

these exchanges are based on the leader identifying performance requirements and

clarifying the conditions under which rewards are available for meeting these

requirements. Transactional leadership is generally easily identifiable because the

behaviors revolve around key issues of employment such as wages/salaries, performance

feedback, and rewards for performance such as promotions. These are centered on

relatively concrete acts.

       Transactional leaders address the self-interests of their followers by offering

incentives for the followers to achieve the goals identified by the leader (Avolio, 1999).

These incentives are usually structured in such a way that the leader can accomplish his

or her goals and also satisfy the interests of the followers. Thus, the essence of

transactional leadership is the exchange of promises of reward for performance. These

transactions can take either of two forms: constructive or corrective. Constructive

transactions are those that are used to clarify expectations and identify the linkages

between performance and rewards. If done properly, these exchanges form a “compact of

expectations” (Avolio, 1999; p. 36) by which followers will evaluate the consistency and

trustworthiness of their leader. In contrast, corrective transactions focus on creating a

desired change in behavior, cooperation, or attitude. These transactions are somewhat

negative in that they clarify what must be done to avoid censorship, reproof, punishment,

or other disciplinary actions (Avolio, 1999).

       Both types of transaction are important to the effectiveness of transactional

leaders. As leaders honor the commitments associated with constructive agreements and

consistently apply corrective measures, their followers are able to develop judgments

concerning the consistency and trustworthiness of the leader. This consistency leads to

the development of knowledge-based trust (Lewicki & Bunker, 1996) and provides the

foundation for a productive, trusting relationship.

       The exchange of rewards for desired behaviors is captured by the explicit

psychological contract dimensions of the contingent reward (CR) subscale of the widely

used Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ; Bass & Avolio, 1994; Goodwin,

Wofford, & Whittington, 2001). The explicit psychological contract refers to the leader‟s

efforts to clarify the rewards for good performance and the rewards that may be expected

for meeting these expectations.

       Although transactional leadership is not enough to develop the full potential of

followers, it is a necessary transitional step in developing the trust between a leader and

follower that is required for transformational leadership to be implemented and become

effective (Avolio, 1999). For leaders to attain the highest level of effectiveness, they

must engage in a two-stage process in which transactional leadership provides the basis

for the subsequent development of transformational leadership (Avolio, 1999). Leaders

who fail to establish a clear set of role expectations will leave followers with an ill-

defined sense of direction and ambiguous task assignments. However, the appropriate

clarification of role expectations provides the basis for more mature relationships

between a leader and his/her followers to evolve over time. Thus, transactional leadership

is a crucial component in establishing a framework of mutual expectations between the

leader and the follower. Furthermore, when leaders honor their various transactional

arrangements with their followers, trust begins to develop, creating the foundation for a

sustained relationship that enables the effective utilization of the full-range of leadership

behaviors (Avolio, 1999).

Transformational leadership
      Transformational leadership builds on transactional leadership, but extends

beyond an exchange-based relationship. Transformational relationships develop between

leaders and followers as the leader motivates the followers to work toward organizational

visions transcend individual needs. This process takes place as transformational leaders

engage in one or more of the following behaviors: idealized influence, inspirational

motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Bass & Avolio,

1994; Avolio, 1999; Bass & Riggio, 2006).

       Idealized influence refers to the role-modeling behavior of transformational

leaders. Transformational leaders consider the needs of others over their own, share risk

with their followers and demonstrate high standards of moral conduct. Their followers

identify with and attempt to emulate them (Bass & Avolio, 1994; Bass & Riggio, 2006).

       Transformational leaders use inspirational motivation to build a follower‟s

emotional commitment to the organization‟s vision or goal. This is done by articulating a

vision that portrays an attractive future that provides meaning and challenge for followers

(Bass, 1985).

       The achievement of a desirable vision for the organization often requires a

significant break from past practices. In order to move the organization toward this

desired future position, transformational leaders must act as change agents. As such, they

use intellectual stimulation to question assumptions, reframe problems, and approach

existing situations from a fresh perspective (Bass, 1985). This behavior encourages

innovation and creativity. Participation and creative risk-taking are encouraged without

the fear of public criticism or penalty for departure from the leader‟s ideas (Heifetz,

1994; Bass & Riggio, 2006).

       Transformational leaders view the development of their followers as an important

dimension of their role as a leader. They are tuned into the needs of their followers and

often act as a mentor. Individualized consideration refers to this mentoring role in which

the leader pays special attention to each individual‟s need for personal growth and

achievement (Bass, 1985). Transformational leaders are intentional about creating

learning opportunities and a supportive environment to facilitate the development of

followers. They use delegation as a developmental tool to advance followers to

successively higher levels of potential.

A Cognitive Approach to Understanding Transformational and Transactional

       Using an information processing framework (Lord & Maher, 1991), Wofford and

Goodwin (1994) developed several propositions concerning the differences between

transactional and transformational leaders. They focused on the content of leader

schemata and suggested that transactional leaders had a different focus than

transformational leaders. Transactional leaders focused on clearly defined performance

goals. The content of transactional leader schemata and scripts emphasized goal

difficulty, goal commitment, task-related knowledge and skills, role expectations, and

incentives that relate to individual employee or organizational subunit performance rather

than a more macro-oriented focus on organizational mission or strategic intent.

       The cognitive processes relative to transactional leadership can be contrasted with

those relating to transformational leaders. In general, transformational leaders are more

likely to possess cognitive structures containing information about organizational vision

accomplishment and more abstract, “big-picture” concepts. Despite their primary focus

on an overall “vision,” Wofford and Goodwin (1994) argued that transformational leaders

also have within their cognitive repertoire elements pertaining to transactional leadership

behavior. That is, individuals who are able to engage in transformational leadership

behavior may revert to the more concrete level of quid pro quo agreements and engage in

transactional leadership behavior as needed.

       In contrast, individuals who exhibit solely transactional behaviors are not

expected to possess knowledge structures relevant to the more abstract level of

organizational vision (i.e., those that permit the display of transformational leader

behavior). Thus, Wofford and Goodwin (1994) argue for a hierarchical framework,

moving from concrete to more abstract representations in memory, wherein transactional

leadership provides the more concrete and pragmatic foundation upon which

transformational leadership rests.

       The general propositions of Wofford and Goodwin‟s (1994) theory concerning the

presence of cognitive content in memory that reflected their primary leadership style

were supported in the results of a relevant field study (Wofford, Goodwin, &

Whittington, 1998) and in a subsequent laboratory experiment (Goodwin, Wofford, &

Boyd, 1999).

       Given the broad support for the effectiveness of transformational and full-range

leadership and the evidence of cognitive differences between transactional and

transformational leaders, it is important to identify how these cognitive differences

developed in the first place. In order to this, several frameworks from a variety of

disciplines will be examined.

Predicting Leadership: Preliminary Approaches

       The attempt to predict managerial and leadership performance is not new.

Korman (1968) examined several predictive and judgmental efforts to predict managerial

performance. These studies required the assessment of a set of individuals on a predictor

instrument at one time and the establishing of the relationship between scores on this

instrument and some institutional criterion measure which occurs at some later point in

time. Studies utilizing concurrent validity methodologies were excluded from Korman‟s

review because interpretations from them are “frequently ambiguous at best.”

       The predictive models examined by Korman were cognitive ability tests,

objective personality and interest inventories, “leadership ability” tests, and personal

history data. Based on his review, Korman concluded that intelligence is a fair predictor

of first-line supervisory performance but not of higher-level managerial performance.

Objective personality and leadership ability tests generally did not show predictive

validity, with the expectation of a managerial motivation measure developed by Miner

(1965). Personal his history data were fair predictors of first-line supervisor

performance, but less so for higher-level managers.

       These judgmental prediction models involved an intermediary who combines a set

of scores and/or impressions in some subjective, intuitive fashion and then makes

predictions as to the individuals‟ standings on the criterion variable. The judgmental

prediction models examined were executive assessments, peer ratings, and supervisor and

faculty ratings. The executive assessment and peer rating methods showed considerable

predictive validity and performance than the psychometric predictive methods.

       Despite Korman‟s generally low evaluation of predictive measures, he saw

significant promise for a method developed by Miner (1965). Miner developed a

projective test requiring sentence completion by subjects. The test consists of 40 items

which are sub- grouped into seven subscales: authority figures, competitive games,

competitive situations, masculine role, imposing wishes, standing out from group and

routine administrative functions. These subscales are conceptualized as being positively

related to one another, so a total score is used. The general major proposition guiding

this model is that there is a positive relationship between positive affect toward these

areas and success in the managerial role.

McClelland’s Leader Motive Pattern

       Another approach to predicting managerial performance was developed by

McClelland (1975) and validated longitudinally (McClelland & Boyatzis, 1982).

McClelland used several personality variables assessed in operant thought with the

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) to develop what he called the leadership motive

pattern. The leadership motive pattern (LMP) consists of a moderate-to-high power

orientation (n power), low need for affiliation (n Affiliation), and high self control

(activity inhibition). The logical importance of these particular variables to effective

managerial behavior is explained by McClelland: “high need for power is important

because it means the person is interested in the influence game, in having an impact on

others; a lower need for affiliation is important because it enables the manager to make

difficult decisions without worrying unduly about being disliked; and high self control is

important because it means the person is likely to be concerned with maintaining

organizational systems and following orderly procedures” (McClelland & Boyatzis,


       Using a sample of managers at AT&T, McClelland found that for managers in

non-technical jobs there was a positive association at 8 and 16 years between the

predicted LMP and subsequent promotion in the organization. Senior managers in non-

technical jobs who are (a) concerned about influencing others, (b) less concerned about

being liked, and (c) have a moderate to high degree of self control are more likely to

succeed than other senior managers.

       A common question concerning McClelland‟s framework concerns the absence of

a strong achievement need in the leadership motive pattern. McClelland found that a

high need for achievement was associated with success at lower levels of non-technical

management jobs where promotion depends on individual contribution. In higher level

jobs, the emphasis shifts to managing others and the individual need for achievement is

not associated with success.

Developmental Perspectives

       The various models reviewed by Korman and the model developed by

McClelland focus on personality traits measured objectively by instruments or

subjectively by others. While useful, neither of these approaches addresses the actual

development of the leader‟s personality. We now turn to clues from various sources that

suggest important developmental features ignored in the leadership literature.

Zaleznik’s Manager-Leader Distinctions

       The contrast between transactional and transformational leaders identified by

Burn (1978) is similar to the distinction made by Zaleznik between managers and leaders.

In his classic article, Zaleznik (1977) argues that managers and leaders have essentially

different kinds of people. The differences are manifested in motivation, personal history,

and in how they think and behave. The most crucial difference identified by Zaleznik

“lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in their psyches, of chaos and control (1990, p.

87, emphasis added).” Leaders are able to tolerate chaos and lack of structure. This

tolerance allows them to avoid premature closure on key decisions by keeping answers in

suspense. They are often restless and driven by an impelling desire to do things better,

which often leads to the creation of an emotionally charged and chaotic workplace.

       In contrast, managers seek to maintain control and provide order. This instinctive

drive to impose order on a messy or chaotic situation may lead managers to make

decisions before the issues are fully understood. This managerial orientation may be

appropriate for what Heifetz (1994; Heifetz & Linsky, 2002) labels technical problems

where the problem is clearly identified and known solution exists; however, it will not be

sufficient for dealing with adaptive challenges where discovery of the exact nature of a

problem, as well as a solution, must be learned. Indeed, for Heifetz the facilitation of

adaptive work is the essence of leadership.

       Zaleznik (1997) further delineates these differences along four dimensions:

orientation toward goals, conceptions of work, relations with others, and sense of self.

According to him, managers have an impersonal and reactive attitude toward goals. They

see goals as rising out arise out of necessity and reality, rather than a desire for an

improved situation. For them, the goals are a function of the history and culture of the

organization and may be the function of an unchallenged implicit theory of the business

(Drucker, 1994).

       Leaders think differently about goals. They have a personal and proactive attitude

toward goals. They prefer to create and shape ideas rather than react to them. Leaders

take the initiative to evoke images and expectations that arise from desire and

imagination. This perspective is consistent with the inductive, direction setting process

that results in the creation of a vision Kotter (1990). Leaders create visions of a desired

future. These visions have the capacity to evoke images and positive expectations about a

desired future that is appealing to both the head and the heart.

       The difference in goal orientation between managers and leaders extends to their

conceptions of work. Managers view work as an enabling process that combines people

and ideas to produce strategies and make decisions. The manager‟s goal in this process is

to moderate risk by coordinating and balancing opposing forces. They seek to navigate

the development of solutions that are acceptable compromises among the conflicting

values present in the organization.

       Where managers act to limit choices among potentially acceptable compromise

positions, leaders actually seek to develop fresh approaches to existing problems. They

seek to open issues to new options that may have never been considered. Through the

process of intellectual stimulation (Bass & Avolio, 1994), leaders challenge long-

standing assumptions. This works hand in hand with the leader‟s attempts to raise

expectations through their vision casting approach to goals. Unless the leader arouses

latent desires and mobilizes expectations that the organization‟s situation can be changed,

new thinking will never come to light.

       Challenging the status quo in this way is an inherently high-risk position and

provides another differentiating factor between managers and leaders. A manager‟s

tolerance for risk is often trumped by a dominant need for survival. Leaders, on the other

hand, are often temperamentally predisposed to seek risk. They react to the mundane

nature of managerial work as to an affliction.

       Managers also differ from leaders in terms of their attitude toward relationships

with others. Paradoxically, managers attempt prefer to work with others, yet they avoid

close, intense personal relationships that are characterized by high levels of emotional

involvement. Leaders are comfortable in solitary work activity, yet encourage close,

intense relationships. Leaders attract strong emotional feelings of identity and difference.

Leaders appear to have high levels of emotional intelligence (Goleman, Boyatzis, &

McKee, 2002). They pay attention to the emotional cues they receive from themselves

and others and integrate these clues into meaningful dimensions of their relationships.

       These manifest differences in goal-orientation, view of work, and interpersonal

relationships are rooted in a fundamental difference in the sense of self (Zaleznik, 1977).

According to him, it is the sense of self that has the most important implications for our

understanding of managerial development. He identifies two different routes in the life

history of individuals: “1) development through socialization, which prepares an

individual to guide institutions and to maintain the existing balance of social relations;

and 2) development through personal mastery, which impels an individual to struggle for

psychological and social change. Society produces its managerial talent through the first

line of development, while through the second leaders emerges” (Zaleznik, 1992: 173).

       Following the distinction developed by psychologist William James in The

Varieties of Religious Experiences, Zaleznik argues that managers are “once-born” and

that leaders are “twice-born.” As once-born individuals, managers have lived lives that

are relatively peaceful and their adjustments through life have been straightforward. They

are comfortable with their environment and tend to accept life as it is. They identify with

the existing order of things and view themselves as the conservators of existing


        Zaleznik‟s description of these “once-born” managers suggests that they are

operating from what Isabella & Forbes (1994) have labeled the instrumental and

incremental mindsets. The instrumental mindset is characterized by a linear,

straightforward way of approaching one‟s career. Those who operate from this

perspective tend to view events sequentially. This mindset facilitates a focused approach

and specialization in a particular area that provides both personal satisfaction and depth

of experience. Managers may also display an incremental mindset. The incremental

mindset is characterized by a sense of gradual and progressive broadening that allows

individuals to gain the benefits from past experience while gaining new skills, knowledge

and expertise.

        Leaders, on the other hand, are “twice born.” Their life has been characterized by

a constant struggle to create some sense of order. They are not able to take the existing

order for granted. In contrast to “once-borns,” they operate from a profound sense of

separateness from their environment. While they may work in organizations, they do not

identify with those organizations. Unlike managers, leaders do not depend on

membership, formal work roles, or other social indicators of status for their identity. This

self-identity that is separated from the environment is a driver for the twice-born leader‟s

need to fundamentally alter existing human, economic, organizational and political


        Zaleznik suggests that these differences stem from early childhood experiences

and the attachment formed with the family. “Once-borns” typically had childhoods that

provided adequate reward gratifications. They formed moderate identifications with their

parents and experienced harmony between their expectations and what they are able to

achieve in life.

        “Twice-borns” did not experience the smooth separation and transition that

characterized the once-borns. For “twice-borns” the pains of separation may have been

amplified by a combination of parental demands and individual needs. This difficulty

leads to a deep involvement in the inner world at the expense of the outer world. For

these people, self-esteem is not based on positive attachments and real rewards. They

develop a sense of self-reliance, along with achievement expectations and a desire to do

great works (Zaleznik, 1977). The following differences are expected:

Proposition 1A: Transactional leaders will develop along the life path associated with

the “once-born” pattern.

Proposition 1B: Transformational leaders are developed along the path associated with


        According to Zaleznik, this self-absorption and internal focus can only be

interrupted by the forming of a deep attachment to a great teacher or other benevolent

person who understands and has the ability to communicate with the gifted individual.

This suggests the importance of a mentor relationship as a key element in the

development of the leader. These mentors take risks with people, betting on talent they

perceive, and risking the emotional involvement of working with younger subordinates.

The presence of these mentors in the development of a leader may provide the model for

the leader to develop these same kind of emotional attachments with others throughout

their life.

         An interesting parallel to Zaleznik‟s internalization hypothesis is suggested in the

works of Tournier (1982) as discussed by Ford (1991). In studying great leaders, these

authors suggest that leaders may be formed out of emotional deprivation, observing that a

significant number of great world leaders were orphans. Expanding this logic, Tournier

concluded that there is a close link between the experience of deprivation and the

development of a person‟s creative capacities. Since creativity and functioning as change

agent are essential to leadership, suffering or deprivation may be important

developmental experiences in the life of would be leaders.

         The importance of creativity developed through deprivation and hardship

identified by Tournier is developed in detail in the works of Bennis and Thomas (2007;

Thomas, 2008). They argue that the single most important determining factor in a

leader‟s success is adaptive capacity which they define as “applied creativity” (Bennis &

Thomas, 2007, p. 101). Adaptive capacity involves the skills of understanding the

environmental context and seizing the strategic windows of opportunity that are present.

         This adaptive capacity is developed through what Bennis and Thomas (2007) call

“the crucibles of leadership.” The idea of a crucible is borrowed from the vessel used

medieval alchemists in their attempt to turn base metals into gold. In the context of the

development of a leader, “a crucible is a transformative experience from which a person

extracts his or her „gold:‟ a new or altered sense of identity” (Thomas, 2008, p.5).

Crucible events are transformational events that shake the entire fabric of an individual‟s

life (Isabella & Forbes, 1994). Frequently, these events touch the very core of one‟s being

by challenging their life purpose. They provide the catalyst for profound change in

direction, self-perception and worldview.

       Crucible events are distinguished from life stages. Certainly, life stage transitions

can be stressful, but they are characterized by a gradual pattern that can be reasonably

predicted. In contrast, crucibles are trials that “invariably rupture the status quo”

(Thomas, 2008, p. 18). These events come upon an individual unexpectedly and force

them to answer fundamental questions about their identity, values, purpose, and

priorities. Crucibles require a level of deep self-reflection that they may have never

experienced. They require a person to step up and do something they had never done

before or become someone that had not been previously.

       Thomas (2008) expands the framework for understanding the crucibles of

leadership by identifying three unique forms of crucible events. The first form of crucible

is labeled “new territory” and involves an encounter with a new or previously unknown

environment. These crucibles develop the leader‟s adaptive capacity by sharpening his or

her awareness and the ability to make sense of this information in an unfamiliar setting.

This aspect of adaptive capacity is similar to what Quinn (1996) refers to as “adaptive

confidence.” This is the ability to learn in real time and requires a humility that allows us

to drop inaccurate assumptions and flawed strategies in the midst of ongoing actions.

       The second form of crucible identified by Thomas is a “reversal.” Reversals

involve loss, impairment, defeat, or a significant failure. The essence of a reversal is the

realization that something once believed to be permanent is only transient, or something

believed to be true is found to be false. These experiences teach a potential leader to see

his or situation in new and more comprehensive way.

       The final form of crucible is what Thomas calls a “suspension.” These involve a

hiatus that is often unanticipated and may have been forced. This is an extended period

during which a familiar set of behaviors and routines is replaced by a new structure.

Suspension periods are characterized by a set of tensions between realities: the

comfortable, known, and immediate past is removed and replaced with the discomfort of

an unknown and indeterminate future. Suspensions provide an opportunity for the leader

to engage in an extended period of contemplative reflection that results in clarification of

their personal mission. This may also result in a solidification of the leader‟s personal

beliefs and values. Thus,

Proposition 2: Transformational leaders will have experienced at least one “crucible”

event through which his or her adaptive capacity was developed.

       No matter what form a crucible experience takes, they provide two levels of

lessons. First, these experiences teach about leadership. Second, they provide subtle and

powerful personal learning opportunities. For Bennis & Thomas (2007) the ability to

overcome the adversity presented by crucibles and to learn from these experiences is the

defining characteristic of leaders. These people have a learning mindset (Isabella &

Forbes, 1994) that is characterized by a sense of ongoing learning and transformation.

Individuals with this mindset appear to have a more complex view of themselves and use

information from a wide variety of sources and encounters to fill in missing pieces in

current situations. They view challenging events and situations as an opportunity to learn

something new. Thus, it is expected that

Proposition 3: Transformational leaders will be characterized by a learning mindset.

Barber’s Character Typology

          Zaleznik‟s discussion provides a rough sketch of what to look for in the

biographical history of would be leaders. The work of Bennis and Thomas (2007;

Thomas, 2008) provides additional guidance by articulating the importance of crucible

events in the life of leaders. Another framework for taking a systematic look at the

developmental history of leaders comes from the work of political scientist James David


          Barber (1992) developed a theory for predicting presidential performance in the

White House. He believed that a president‟s personality is an important shaper of his

behavior on nontrivial matters. In his framework, personality is patterned in a dynamic

package consisting of the leader‟s character, world-view, and style. By carefully

examining the biographical development of these would-be leaders, we can gain valuable

insight into their personality. This understanding of personality provides the basis for

predicting performance.

          According to Barber, the best way to predict this pattern is to see how they were

developed over the early stages of life. Character refers to the basic stance a leader takes

toward life and is developed primarily in the childhood years. During these years a leader

develops an enduring orientation toward experience. To understand a person‟s world-

view, Barber suggests that we examine the adolescent years. Style has its main

development during the early adulthood years. In Barber‟s framework, these elements of

personality interact with the power situation and climate of expectations existing during

the leader‟s tenure. But, it is the character dimension that provides the primary

understanding of a leader‟s orientation toward life and the development of their

leadership philosophy and style.

       To capture the essence of the character dimension of a leader‟s personality,

Barber developed a two-dimensional typology based on a leader‟s activity level and their

affect. These dimensions are the two central features of anyone‟s orientation toward life.

The first dimension is the activity continuum which refers to the amount of energy a

leader invests in his work. The second dimension is positive-negative affect toward one‟s

activity; that is, how a person feels about what they do. The activity baseline refers to

what one does, the affect baseline to how one feels about what he does. While these are

crude clues to character, they lead to four character patterns long familiar in

psychological research:

       The passive-positive personality is a receptive, compliant, other-directed character

whose life is a based on a search for affection. In this pattern acceptance and affection are

viewed as a reward for being agreeable and cooperative rather than personally assertive.

Their primary goal is love. They would be expected to have a high need for affiliation

(McClelland, 1975).

       The passive-negative character is driven by a sense of duty and obligation which

compensates for low self-esteem based on feelings of uselessness. They tend to withdraw

and escape from conflict and uncertainty by emphasizing vague principles and procedural

arrangements. Passive-negatives are dominated by their sense of civic virtue.

       The active-negative personality manifests a contradiction between relatively

intense effort and relatively low emotional reward for that effort. Their activity has a

compulsive quality, as if he or she were trying to make up for something or to escape

from anxiety into hard work. Active-negatives have a vague and discontinuous self

image produced by a life that has been a hard struggle to achieve and hold power. This

struggle is hampered by the condemnations of a perfectionist conscience. These

personalities can become extremely rigid when faced with a crisis. Their primary aim is

the acquisition and maintenance of power. They would be expected to have a high need

for power (McClelland, 1975).

       The active-positive personality combines high levels of activity with the

enjoyment of performing their tasks. These leaders have a relatively high self-esteem and

enjoy success in relating to the world. They display an orientation toward productiveness

as a value. In contrast with the active-negative personality, active-positives retain their

flexibility and are likely to view a crisis as an opportunity to grow and develop. The

active-positive leader develops over time toward a relatively well defined set of personal

goals. These goals support their growth toward an image of their ideal self. Barber‟s

description of these individuals suggest they may possess the adaptive capacity and

learning mindset associated with leaders in the Zaleznik and Bennis and Thomas

frameworks discussed above. Thus, it is expected that

Proposition 4: Transformational leaders will possess an active-positive personality.

       Using an approach similar to Barber, Gibbons (1986) obtained retrospective

information from leaders who had been identified as transformational. From these

biographical histories, she identified several factors that may be antecedents to the

development of transformational leaders. First, she found that transformational leaders

possessed an achievement orientation that impacts several life arenas. Gibbons suggested

that this achievement orientation was developed in childhood through high parental

expectations. These expectations were supported through the granting of moderately high

family responsibilities early in life.

    In some contradiction to Zaleznik‟s findings, Gibbons observed that the childhood

family situation of the transformational leaders she observed was balanced. While

circumstances may have been difficult and demanding, adequate individual and systemic

resources were available. In this context, the leaders learned to deal with their emotions,

including conflict and disappointment

    The leaders in Gibbon‟s study used a variety of developmental activities to enhance

their personal development. These activities are not confined to leadership skills training,

and may include workshops, events and relationships with influential people who may

also have been role models. While these developmental experiences may not meet the full

criteria of a crucible event, these developmental activities are consistent with the learning

mindset and the need for ongoing personal growth that is evident in the active-positive

personality proposed to be associated with transformational leadership behavior.

Developing Authentic Transformational Leaders

        Recently there has been a growing interest in the distinction between “authentic”

transformational leaders and “pseudo-transformational” leaders (Bass, 1998; Bass &

Steidlmeier, 1999; Price, 2003). While overt behaviors may be similar, this distinction is

based on the differences between the types in terms of values, power motive, social

distance, and concern for follower development (Bass, 1998). According to Bass (1998)

authentic transformational seek to be “morally uplifting” to followers and channel their

need for power into “socially constructive ways in the service of others.”

       Pseudo-transformational leaders are essentially “power wielders” (Burns, 1978)

who often seek to enhance their personal status by establishing personal distance between

themselves and their followers. This distance is maintained by the manipulation of

agendas, maximizing outcomes at the expense of others, and squelching conflicting

views. By doing so, pseudo-transformational leaders deliver a bogus empowerment

(Ciulla, 1998) that promises followers the freedom and resources to act on their

judgments, but fails to deliver. In stark contrast, authentic transformational leaders seek

to persuade others based on the merit of their ideas, and operate with a degree of

openness that encourages the development of their followers. In fact, it is probably on

this dimension of individualized consideration that the pseudo-transformational leader

fails (Bass, 1998).

       At the heart of these distinctions is the question of motive. Thus, an important

question for all people who assume leadership roles is “what‟s your motive?” Building on

McClelland‟s (1975) framework, Kanungo and Mendonca (1996) identified two

contrasting leadership motive patterns that provide an answer to this question: altruistic

and egotistic. The altruistic motive pattern is based in the intent to benefit others.

Conversely, those who operate from an egotistic pattern are primarily concerned with

using their position to benefit themselves. Kanungo and Mendonca (1996) develop these

motive patterns by examining the operative needs and influence strategies of the leaders

who operate from each of the motive patterns. The operative needs dimension refers to

the leader‟s combination of needs for affiliation, power and achievement (McClelland &

Burnham, 1995; Boyatzis, 1973; 1982). Influence strategy refers to the power bases

(French & Raven, 1959) and influence tactics used by the leader.

       According to Kanungo and Mendonca (1996) leaders who operate from the

egotistic motive pattern are driven by avoidance affiliation, a personal power orientation,

and a strong need for personal achievement. In the egotistic pattern, relationships are

used to protect the leader. The need for affiliation is based on the leader‟s sense of

insecurity and manifests itself in “non-interfering” and “easy-to-get-along” behaviors,

even when the job situation demands otherwise. These leaders are reluctant to give

negative feedback to subordinates. They yield to employee requests because they do not

want to incur the employee‟s displeasure, and they do so without regard to the effect of

their behavior on the need for equity, due process, and order in the workplace.

Consequently, followers are left in a position of weakness without a sense of what might

happen next. Followers do not know where they stand in their relation to their manager,

or even what they ought to be doing (McClelland & Burnham, 1995).

       Egotistic leaders have a high need for personal power. They are preoccupied with

their own interests and concerns. This self-interest is often pursued even at the cost of the

organization‟s welfare and effectiveness. These leaders demand followers‟ loyalty.

Relying on the resources inherent in the power base of their position, they expect

followers to direct their efforts toward the achievement of the leader‟s personal agenda.

The personal power need of egotistic leaders seems to be rooted in a deep-seated sense of

insecurity, which manifests itself in dictatorial forms of behavior. This behavior in turn

leads to defensive relations with their followers. Insensitive to the needs of their

followers, they expect unquestioning obedience to and compliance with their authority

and decisions (Howell & Avolio, 1992).

       Typically, individuals high on the achievement motive derive satisfaction from

achieving their goals. They tend to pursue achievement almost as an end in itself. While

assuming a high degree of personal responsibility, they also tend to be self-oriented by

viewing organizational resources and support primarily in terms of their own objectives.

These individuals may be motivated by either personal achievement or social


       Egotistic leaders are driven by personal achievement motives and are more likely

to engage in behaviors that benefit self rather than others. In fact, because they focus on

personal improvement and a belief that they can achieve goals better by themselves,

(McClelland & Burnham, 1995), they have difficulty relinquishing control to others

through delegation.

       In contrast to egotistic leaders, altruistic leaders have a genuine interest in others.

They relate to their followers as individuals with ideas and resources. Followers are

viewed as partners in the problem-solving and related activities necessary for attaining

organizational objectives. Consequently, supportive feelings permeate the interpersonal

relationships between altruistic leaders and their followers.

       Altruistic leaders are characterized by an institutional need for power that is

derived from their identification with and commitment to the organization‟s objectives

and interests. They draw primarily on the resources of their personal power base--that is,

expertise or attraction as perceived by the followers. Leaders operating from this

perspective see their power as a tool to be used to help and support the followers in

accomplishing their tasks

        Altruistic leaders are driven by a social achievement motive. These leaders show

a concern for others and initiate efforts that focus on individual and collective capability.

They are concerned with creating a better quality of life and seek to engage in meaningful

organizational and social action in order to influence the common good (Mehta, 1994;

Kanungo & Mendonca, 1996).

        The differences in the operative needs of egotistic and altruistic leaders extend to

the influence strategies they employ. According to Kanungo and Mendonca (1996),

egotistic leaders seek to control the behavior of followers by using the legitimate rights of

their position to coerce followers into compliance or by manipulating rewards. In

contrast, altruistic leaders seek to empower followers and operate from a personal power

base of expertise and attraction.

        The distinctions between the egoistic and altruistic motive patterns are consistent

with the distinction between power-wielders and leaders made by Burns (1978). These

distinctions are also consistent with the contrast between pseudo-transformational and

authentic transformational leaders developed by Bass (1998). Power wielders and

pseudo-transformational leaders can be seen as operating from the egoistic motive pattern

which is primarily concerned with self-aggrandizement. Conversely, Burns‟ leaders and

Bass‟ authentic transformational leaders operate from the altruistic motive pattern. Thus,

it is expected that

Proposition 5A: The motives of pseudo-transformational leaders will be consistent with

the egotistic motive pattern.

Proposition 5B: The motives of authentic transformational leaders will be consistent

with the altruistic motive pattern.

Cognitive-Developmental Theory

       A useful model for understanding how the development authentic

transformational leaders diverges from the development of pseudo-transformational

leaders has been developed by Kuhnert and Lewis (1987). They proposed a three-stage

model of transformational and transactional leadership based on the

cognitive/developmental theory (CD) of Kegan (1982). This approach identifies a

sequential pattern in the way people construct meaning throughout their lives,

progressing from simple to more complex modes of understanding.

       According to CD theory, the construction of meaning is a process incorporating

two aspects of experience: subject and object (Kuhnert & Russell, 1990). Subject is the

process by which individuals organize and make sense of their experience. Object is the

content of the experience as it is integrated by the individual. Six stages of development

are identified: As a person progresses through these stages, what was subject becomes

object. At these higher stages of development the individual is able to reflect upon the

way they previously organized their experience rather than being identified by it (Kuhnert

& Russell, 1990).

       Kuhnert and Lewis (1987) proposed that it is this meaning making system that

distinguishes transactional from transformational leaders. They suggest that transactional

leaders operate at stages 2 and 3 of the CD hierarchy. Stage 2 individuals use personal

goals and agendas as their frame of reference and assume that others also operate from

this perspective. These individuals have not developed the cognitive maturity required to

participate in mutual experience and shared perceptions (Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987). This

focus on personal goals and agendas is consistent with the egotistic motive pattern

discussed above.

         Individuals who to develop to Stage 3 have begun to transcend their focus on

personal goals. Their attention is now turned to maintaining connections with their

employers. The maintenance of these connections is based on transactions involving

mutual support, promises, expectations, obligations and rewards (Kuhnert & Lewis,


         From the CD perspective, only when individuals have matured to stage 4 is

transformational leadership possible. Stage 4 individuals have developed a subjective

frame of reference that defines the self in terms of internal values, standards and

principles. At this stage of development, leaders are able to take an objective view of

their goals and commitments and transcend personal agendas and loyalties. Centered on

principles, stage 4 leaders can operate transformationally (Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987).

These individuals are operating with motives consistent with the altruistic motive pattern

(Kanungo & Mendonca, 1996. Thus, it is expected that

Proposition 6: Authentic transformational leaders will be at Stage 4 of the cognitive-

developmental cycle.


        Wofford, Goodwin, and Whittington (1998) identified significant differences

between the cognitive structures of transformational and transactional leaders. In an effort

to extend our understanding of these differences, the goal of this paper was to identify the

various developmental antecedents that may have influenced these differences in

cognitive structure. This contributes to a comprehensive and integrative model of

transformational leadership.

        Given the wide variety of positive outcomes associated with transformational

leadership, it is important to develop transformational leaders. Wofford et al. (1998)

advocated the early development of transformational leadership cognitions. However,

they focused on organization-based training and development programs that emphasize

instructional approaches that call for the behavioral manifestation of leadership scripts,

while providing feedback to indicate which ones are effective and ineffective.

    In addition, Wofford et al. (1998) identified mentoring as perhaps the most practical

approach for successful leadership development. In particular, they discussed the impact

of mentors who provide an inspiring vision, challenging developmental goals, guidance,

and personal feedback, thus modeling transformational leadership themselves. The

impact of significant individuals, such as mentors, on the development of a leader‟s

personal philosophy and cognitions about leadership is supported by Zaleznik‟s

discussion of the role influential people play in the development of the “twice-borns”

who emerge as leaders. But, the impact described by Zaleznik appears to occur early in

the leader‟s life and is independent of the organizational setting a leader may find him or

herself in.

   The developmental antecedents in this paper suggest that the development of

transformational scripts and cognitions is the result of the successful navigation through

at least one “crucible” event. Crucible events develop the adaptive capacity and learning

mindset that characterizes the active positive personalities that emerge as

transformational leaders.

   While training and organizational-based mentoring may be effective in developing

leaders, the position taken in this paper is that the process of developing a set of

transformational cognitions begins much earlier. In fact, Barber and Zaleznik have

pointed to the importance of childhood, adolescent, and early adult experiences in

developing the transformational mindset. Efforts to further our understanding of the

development of a leader‟s cognitive structures should be patterned after Barber‟s

framework because important dimensions of the cognitive structure are developed at

different points in the life cycle. It is in childhood that the active-passive orientation and

the dimensions of positive and negative affect first develop. A leader‟s world view begins

to emerge in the adolescent stage. It is here that the need for individuation may create the

disruption that leads to the development of the internal reflection that characterizes the

“twice-born” individuals. Finally, the first successes a leader achieves in early adulthood

shape the style that dominates their approach to leadership. These early successes become

scripts that not only guide future behaviors, but become filters for the processing of

future experiences.

       Recent events in the corporate, government, and even among faith-based

institutions have heightened our awareness of the need for leaders who not only cast

inspiring visions, but who also operate within an ethical framework. In the words of

Kellerman (2004), we need leaders who are both effective and moral. A failure on one, or

both, of these dimensions results in “bad leadership.” Therefore, it is not sufficient to

develop cognitive scripts for transformational leadership behavior alone. This might

result in the development of those who would merely become pseudo-transformational

leaders. Identification of authentic transformational leaders requires that we identify

leaders whose development has resulted in the self-transcendent motive pattern

characterized by Kanungo and Mendonca‟s (1996) altruistic motive pattern.

       In this paper, several frameworks were used to identify some of the possible

developmental antecedents to the cognitive differences between transactional and

transformational identified by Wofford and his associates. Developing a more thorough

understanding of the development of these will require the creative use of both qualitative

and quantitative research methods. A useful model for this approach to research is

provided in the work of Gibbons (1986) who obtained retrospective bio-data information

(qualitative) from leaders who had been identified as transformational (quantitative).

       In order to investigate the developmental antecedents proposed here, it would be

necessary to capture information about childhood, adolescence, and early adult success

that are prescribed by Barber. This would provide the basis for judgments about character

(activity and affect), worldview, and style. These qualitative approaches should also seek

to capture information about the transforming impact that crucible events may have had

on the formation of the creative and adaptive capacity of those who have been identified

as transformational leaders. The presence and impact of influential mentors should also

be examined. Research in this area will also benefit from longitudinal research designs

that would allow the early identification and tracking of potential transformational

leaders across their life span.


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