Revisiting fundamental concepts of transformational leadership theory: a closer look at follower developmental processes
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One of the fundamental ideas of transformational leadership theory is that transformational leaders develop their followers into transformational leaders. Unfortunately, there has been surprisingly little research on this topic. Although prior research has established a relationship between supervisor transformational leadership and follower transformational leadership (i.e., supervisor transformational leadership is positively related to follower transformational leadership), more research is needed to identify potential follower process variables and the interrelationships between cognitive, motivation, and behavioral variables that may be relevant to the development process of followers. This study initiated a closer examination of the process variables in three phases. First, the direct relationship between supervisor transformational leadership and various follower variables relevant to the development process was examined. Second, this study summarized the interrelationships between the process variables in a structural model, including a test of the indirect effects of supervisor transformational leadership on follower outcomes through more proximal follower variables. Third, this study explored transformational leadership theory's unique contribution to the understanding of leader-follower processes by comparing some of the relationships tested in this study to analogous relationships using other highly researched leadership styles, such as transactional leadership, initiating structure, consideration, and leader-member exchange. The findings supported several of the hypotheses involving direct relationships between supervisor transformational leadership and the follower variables relevant to self-concept, development orientation, development motivation, development activity, and leadership behavior. There was also support for partial mediation of the relationship between supervisor transformational leadership and the follower outcome variables (through follower developmental processes). Contrary to hypotheses, several of the alternative leadership styles showed comparable or at times better prediction of follower developmental variables, which suggests that the follower development process may not be unique to transformational leadership theory.