I started my first firm when I was 27 years old; I had five years of experience working in a communications company in Chicago, Illinois, where I had grown up. Over the years my particular positions have changed based on the size of the organization, but I have always observed that transactional leaders are very strong leaders. In my younger years I would not have been able to articulate this like I can today but I was quite aware of this type of leader nevertheless.

Transactional Leaders Make Decisive Decisions

Some might refer to a transactional leadership style as a good manager or as managerial leadership that focuses on supervision, organization and performance. Transactional leaders know how to quickly size up a situation and make an equally quick decision. That’s their strength. The other side of this coin is they generally promote those who are willing to follow direction, or those who are compliant. Although this is not an entirely objectionable to those being lead if they understand that this is the process, this style of leadership tends to reward those that do comply and subject those that do not to some form of discipline.

Let’s be clear; there’s nothing wrong with getting things done on time and on budget. But there are very well researched and documented characteristics of this leadership style:

  • Transactional leaders are more concerned with maintaining the normal flow of operations than finding new ways of doing things.
  • Transactional leaders want to keep the boat afloat and will go to great lengths to ensure they do.
  • Transactional leaders often use disciplinary power to motivate employees to perform at their best.
  • Transactional leaders often motivate subordinates by exchanging rewards for performance.

A transactional leader will need to learn how to look ahead when strategically guiding their organization beyond fixing today’s hot issue. This is counter-intuitive to many transactional leaders because the reward for solving tomorrow’s problems requires the leader to look past today’s fires.