Leadership is an essential life skill. Whether it is about leading a corporate office, a bank branch or even a study group, you need to be familiar with the various styles and characteristics of leadership. While dealing with people in a professional capacity, your behavior and work ethics need to be strictly professional.

As Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw said, “Professional knowledge and professional competence are the main attributes of leadership. Unless you know, and the men you command know that you know your job, you will never be a leader.”

One of the styles of leadership is called transactional leadership.

Transactional Leadership Theory

The transactional leadership theory is based on the behavioral belief systems that both positive and negative reinforcements work for the benefit of an organization.

Leaders who follow the transactional leadership theory believe that the chain of command or hierarchy works best to be able to motivate workers and enhance their productivity.

By following the transactional leadership theory, they follow strict rules and commands and expect their subordinates to do the same. Among many other things, discipline is key to transactional leadership.

Transactional leadership examples can be found in any sector or profession where following the rules are expected to yield uniform and best results. The armed forces or police or security forces primarily work with the theory of transactional leadership.

Transactional Leadership Examples

A lot of transactional leadership examples can be found in organizations that deal with security or legal protocols. Here the leaders follow certain rules and expect their subordinates to do the same.

It also works best in situations when the majority of the workforce is not privy to certain information about their work. Highly covert military missions and developing highly competitive pieces of technology are some transactional leadership examples where the style works.

In these areas, transactional leadership works because the subordinates maintain respect and admiration for the leader, owing to disciplined hierarchical rules, where roles are clearly divided.

Once the structure gets embedded in their working styles, the employees have a clear idea about the rewards and punishments that they may be eligible for.

Transactional Leadership Style

The transactional leadership style is defined by some basic principles. A person following transactional leadership believes in the chain of command and that it needs to be strictly maintained. This style of leadership smoothes out the workflow as it ensures that there is little doubt in the minds of workers about their prescribed roles.

Following a strict chain of command also helps in identifying the areas that are not functioning properly, giving the leader the ability to make changes.

Transactional Leadership Characteristics

The transactional leadership style is pretty straightforward.

The principles of transactional leadership dictate that an individual can be motivated by positive reinforcements such as rewards.

Timely appreciation for the performance, friendly competitions like choosing the ‘best employee’ or ‘employee of the year or month’ help workers achieve more and reach their best potential.

The subordinates are mandated to follow each of their leader’s orders, and they generally do so because they are aware not just of the rewards but also of the consequences of their actions.

The transactional leadership characteristics involve close monitoring of the workers by their leaders. By regular and thorough evaluation of the employees’ work and schedules, the leader in a transactional leadership is aware of most of the issues and barriers they might be facing. This helps in the long term as the employees do not have to individually report the issues they are facing. Close monitoring ensures that the workflow is not disturbed and the employees can work efficiently under a watchful eye.

Harappa Education’s Leading Self course helps you lead yourself at work and climb the professional ladder. Use your understanding of transactional leadership styles and you begin your leadership journey.


Explore topics such as the Meaning of Leadership, Authentic Leadership, Leadership Development, Types of Leadership & Transactional and Transformational leadership from our Harappa Diaries section and lead on a path of self-development.

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