Modern Leadership Styles in the Changing World: Charismatic,Transformational, and Visionary Leadership

Modern Leadership Styles in the Changing World: Charismatic,Transformational, and Visionary Leadership
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Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leadership is leading by dint of personality and charm, instead of relying on any external power or authority.

Charismatic leaders seek to fulfill organizational goals by instilling devotion. They scan and read the environment in which they operate to pick up the moods and concerns of individuals and larger audiences, and then hone their actions and words to suit the situation. They engender the trust of the people through visible self-sacrifice and take personal risks in the name of their beliefs

The major behavioral attributes of charismatic leaders include:

  • Sensitivity to the environment and member needs
  • Articulation of a clear-cut vision shaped to the situation
  • Effective use of body language and verbal language
  • Personal risk taking and unconventional behavior
  • High self-belief
  • Displaying confidence in follower’s ability

Charismatic leaders have the potential to elevate and transform an entire company. The danger lies in using such powers to create a personality-based cult that misguides people.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is one of the most popular leadership styles in the changing world and focuses on effecting revolutionary change in organizations through a commitment to the organization’s vision.

Transformational leaders sell the company’s defined vision, usually a radical vision, that departs from the established one by many ways, such as:

  • Articulating the vision and explaining how to attain the vision in an appealing manner
  • Establishing high levels of personal integrity to gain trust and inspire the members
  • Applying passion and energy at work, and injecting such energy and enthusiasm to followers
  • Leading from the front to demonstrate attitudes and actions for followers to emulate
  • Motivating and rallying followers by constantly listening, soothing, and enthusing
  • Developing a shared vision and appealing to people’s inborn desire to attain higher levels related to love, learning, leaving a legacy, and the like.

Transformational leadership has much in common with charismatic leadership, with the major difference relating to the scope. While transformational leadership focuses on organizational change, charismatic leadership may not have such a focus.

Visionary Leadership

A visionary leader dreams about the future and translates such dreams into specific, achievable goals and is able to articulate them with great inspiration to instill the commitment of others. They also back up such words with action.

Visionary leaders anticipate change and act proactively to handle the situation. Instead of the traditional leadership method of dominating and directing people, they adopt a partnership approach to create a shared sense of vision with the followers. They focus on opportunities rather than problems, and emphasize win/win rather than adversarial win/lose approach.

The major characteristics of visionary leadership include:

  • Demonstrating personal integrity and radiating a sense of energy, vitality, and adherence to core values. They exercise moral leadership when elevated with power rather than becoming corrupted by power.
  • Maintaining good relations, adopting a deeply caring approach to people, and treating them with warmth and respect.
  • Inspiring people to better themselves and giving them a new sense of hope and confidence to do so.
  • Transforming old mental maps or paradigms, and creating “out of the box” unconventional and innovative strategies to actualize the new vision through broad and systemic thinking keeping the big picture in mind.
  • Developing team spirit and team learning initiatives.

Visionary leadership bases itself on a balanced expression of the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical dimensions, and requires the presence of all such dimensions for success.

Transactional Leadership


Transactional leadership bases itself on getting things done through a clear chain of command and works on the assumption that rewards and punishment will motivate people.

Transactional Leaders negotiate a contract with subordinates that creates clear structures, makes explicit the requirement, and installs a formal system for rewards and discipline. The subordinate gets a salary and other benefits and the company gets complete authority over the subordinate in return. The subordinate becomes fully responsible for the allocated work and receives rewards for success or discipline for failure.

Transactional leaders follow a management by exception approach, wherein they do not give much attention to routine issues or excepted performance and rather pay attention to present issues.

The major characteristics of transactional leaders include:

  • Reliance on standard forms of inducement, reward, punishment, and sanction to control followers.
  • Motivating followers through goal setting and a simple and straightforward approach of rewards for desired performance and discipline for failure.
  • Reinforcing subordinates to complete their side of the bargain successfully.

Among all the modern management styles, transactional leadership come the closest to traditional leadership styles, but it remains one of the modern leadership styles in a changing world, bearing some similarities with transformational leadership. The difference between transactional and transformational leadership is that while transformational leaders adopt a ‘selling’ style, transactional leaders adopts a ’telling’ style.

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership bases itself on the premise that leaders are servants first and leaders second. They depart from the traditional leadership style of dominating subordinates and telling them what to do, and rather empower the subordinate and act proactively to inspire them to perform. Such inspiration leads to collective efforts, the results of which turn out to be more than the sum of individual efforts.

Servant leader characteristics include:

  • Takes the time and effort to help subordinates understand their strengths and weaknesses, and identify potential and higher purposes they could never attain on their own.
  • Sees things from others perspective, exhibits patience, and shows empathy.
  • Attaches importance on teamwork and relationship building.
  • Remains moored in social and ethical considerations.
  • Includes the employees in the decision-making process and empowers them to act, making servant leadership a form of democratic leadership.

The ten major characteristics of servant leadership is listening, empathy, healing relationships, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to human resource development, and commitment to building community.

A unique feature of modern leadership styles in the changing world is that a leader rarely displays any one leadership style exclusively. Modern leaders remain competent to change their leadership style to suit the market-driven situation and work demands.


  1. Douglas, Levasana. Modern leadership styles in the changing world. Eastern University
  2. Charismatic Leadership
    Corinne McLaughlin. Visionary Leadership.
  3. Spears, Larry, C. On Character and Servant-Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders. The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership.
  4. Hay, Iain. Transformational Leadership: Characteristics and Criticisms. Flinders University

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