Effectiveness of transformational leadership training has often been researched descriptively. This study, using a true experimental design, empirically evaluates the effectiveness of transformational leadership training. Role of training motivation in explaining the training effectiveness is discussed. Consistent with the hypothesis, the results of the study reveal a significant and positive effect of transformational leadership training on employees' satisfaction with the trained supervisors. Furthermore, trainees' (supervisors) motivation towards a transformational leadership training program significantly and positively affects the attitudinal outcomes.

Publication: Academy of Strategic Management Journal
Author: Hassan, Rasool A
Date published: January 1, 2010


Emotional and symbolic aspects of leadership have remained an avenue of great interest for management researchers since 1980s. The theory of transformational leadership influenced by the work of James MacGregor Burns (1978) and more empirically researched Bass (1985 & 1996), describes this important aspect of leadership. Transformational leadership instigates the moral values of followers while unshackling mental processes to instill a concern for ethical issues and to mobilize energy and resources to reform organizations . Current research on transformational leadership, in contrast to Burns, focuses more on pragmatic task objectives than the moral uplift of followers (Yukl, 2008, p. 267). Transformational Leadership has apositive effect on subordinate's attitude and firm's performance. However effectiveness of Transformational leadership training is a less researched avenue . (Barling, Weber and Kelloway , 1 996) . This study evaluates the effect of transformational leadership training on subordinate's satisfaction with the supervisors.

On the other hand, training motivation plays a vital role in determining the effectiveness of a training program (Colquitt et, al. 1999). This study extends our understanding about the role of training motivation in transformational leadership training context.

This study substantiates the existing literature by using conceptualizations of transformational leadership to study the effect of such trainings on subordinates' satisfaction. Furthermore, to our knowledge, this study is unique in evaluating the role of training motivation and its impact on transformational leadership training effectiveness.


Transformational leadership Training

The effectiveness of transformational leadership training intervention have been studied from three different performance oriented perspectives /. e. effect of training on attitudinal outcomes of trainees (Howell & Frost, 1989), task performance of subordinates (Kirkpatrick Sc Locke, 1996) and the impact of training intervention on financial performance (Barling et al, 1996). The dimensions of transformational leadership have been related to the task performance of subordinates. It has been identified that individuals working under a leader exhibiting individualized consideration are lower at task performance than individuals working under charismatic leadership (Howell & Frost, 1989). The effectiveness of transformational leadership training has been evaluated through three different criterions, namely, reaction (Popper, Landau, and Gluskinos, 1992) behavior and performance (Barling et al, 1996). For instance Barling (1996) used a true experimental design to evaluate the effect of transformational leadership training intervention and related it with organizational performance. It has been emphasized that the effect of transformational leadership training should be studied on other individual attitudes like subordinates' satisfaction with their supervisors (Barling et al, 1996).

Training Motivation:

In a training context, motivation is a goal directed inspiration derived from trainees' personal needs and the decision processes they use to satisfy those needs (Blanchard & Thacker, 2004) . A number of external and individual variables have been identified that affect the motivation towards a training program.

Individuals with an ability to learn but low in training motivation cannot reap full benefits from a training program. (Noe & WiIk, 1993)


This study uses a true experimental design. A pretest-posttest with control group design was adopted for the study. The procedure for selection of participants and the instruments is as follows.

Area managers of a large scale private healthcare company were selected for studying the effect of transformational leadership training on attitudinal outcomes . The selection of a single company helped control the cultural variations, whereas, the selection of Area Managers, only, helped maintain uniformity of the staffing function as well as the SKA. Other factors that could have distorted the results were controlled using a control group. The authors, under a contract, had to provide transformational leadership training at, geographically dispersed, regional offices of the said company. The trainings were scheduled to be conducted at these offices over a period of one year. In view of the time lag between the occurrences of the training program at various regional offices, the subjects that were to be trained first were considered as an experimental group, and the ones to be trained last, were considered as the control group . Experimental group consisted of twelve managers, out of which, eleven were male whereas, the twelve managers of control group included ten male members. For each subject in the two groups, three members(subordinates), who directly reported to a subject, were selected for the study. Information was collected from them on two parameters I-e the subordinates' perception of transformational leadership behavior of his/her manager and satisfaction with him/her as a supervisor. This information was collected using pretest-posttest design. Moreover, training motivation of the subjects was also measured prior to the experiment.


Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was used to study the transformational leadership behavior using subordinate's report. MLQ measures four aspects of transformational leadership: (a) individualized consideration (IC) (b) intellectual stimulation^ S); © inspirational motivation (IM); and (d) idealized influence (II) The reliability of these subscales in the current study, as measured by subordinates' perception, was as follows: Individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized influence were 0.87, 0.92, 0.94 and 0.89 respectively at pretest and 0.92, 0.91, 0.95 and 0.90 at posttest stage. This explains that the scales were internally consistent at both the stages. Transformational leadership behavior was measured, through MLQ, at both pretest and posttest stages. The pretest and posttest ratings were collected 10 days prior and 90 days after the training intervention respectively.

A six item five point reduced form of sixteen items measure developed by Noe and WiIk (1993) was used to measure (trainee) managers' leadership training motivation. The internal consistency reliability of this measure in the present sample was alpha = 0.95.

Satisfaction with manager was measured through a 6 item reduced form of 18 item 5 point scale developed by Scarpello & Vandenberg (1987). This questionnaire describes the subordinate's satisfaction with his/her manager. Sample items include "The way my supervisor helps me to get the j ob done" . "The way my supervisor gives me clear instructions" and "The way my supervisor listens when I have something important to say". The internal consistency reliability of this measure in the present sample was alpha=0.95.

Training Intervention

Training intervention was organized by an expert training consultancy that adopted the following training designio impart the transformation leadership training. Training was divided into four modules that were offered with a lag of 7 days in the following sequence.

Session 1:

Prior to the first session, all participants evaluated themselves on transformational leadership characteristics. The session that lasted for three days, started with an assessment of the participants' prior understanding of the four dimensions of transformational leadership i.e. idealized influence, individual consideration, inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation. The participants were asked to identify best and worst leaders around them and later they were exposed to the concepts of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership. Participants were then required to associate their best and worst leaders with the concepts of different types of leaders. The focus, then, was shifted towards transformational leadership, the importance and implications of idealized influence, individual consideration, inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation were discussed. Self reports and subordinate reports were matched to identify deficient avenues. Key attitudes in transformational leadership stature were identified.

Session 2:

Second session started with an introduction to goal setting theory. Importance of setting specific, difficult but attainable, goals was discussed in a lecture setting . Afterwards, a day long interactive session was conducted to identify appropriate goals and objectives for all participants according to their work requirements. Role playing and in basket exercises were conducted. The session concluded with a case study situation requiring transformational leadership exhibition by participants. Participants were then asked to come up with their goals and objectives in the next session.

Session 3:

Goals and objectives identified in the earlier session were revised and operational details were discussed. Transformational leadership attitude was the focus of the session. Role playing exercises were conducted.

Session 4:

This session was a booster that focused on the identification of any observable changes in participants' behavior with respect to the behavior recorded in their respective self reports obtained earlier. In order to serve this purpose, all participants were advised to record their self appraisals on daily basis.



We started our analysis by assessing difference between experiment and control group using descriptive statistics. Table 1 and Table 2 explain the state of two groups before experiment. Both groups were same in terms of group members I-e 12 members each. To evaluate the similarity among control and experiment group, we assessed both groups on four dimensions of Transformational Leadership and subordinates' satisfaction with supervisor. It was identified that there was insignificant variation in means values of first two dimensions of transformational leadership stature (IM & IS). For IC and II and satisfaction with supervisor, control group was having negligible higher values than the experiment group . It was assumed similar to the experimental group to safely argue that effective training in transformational leadership can still increase these two dimensions and satisfaction of experiment group over the control group in post test evaluations. Means values for Experiment Group on four dimensions of Transformational Leadership were IM (2. 1 1) IS (2.08) IC (1 .02) & II (2.65) respectively. Mean value of satisfaction with supervisor for the same group was 2.50. Means values for Control Group on four dimensions of Transformational Leadership were IM (2.37) IS (2.50) IC (2.36) & II (2.65) respectively.

Mean value of satisfaction with supervisor for the same group was 2.90.

Post Test

Both groups were same in terms of group members I-e 12 members each. There was a significant increase in the post test readings of experiment group. Table 3 explains the positive change in transformational leadership stature and subordinate's satisfaction with trained supervisors. Post test reading of four dimensions of transformational leadership stature for the experiment group were IM (3.30), IS (3.10), IC (2.83) & II (3.85) respectively. Post test readings for satisfaction with supervisor were 3.40. Post test reading of four dimensions of transformational leadership stature for the control group were IM (2.68), IS (2.77), IC (2.76) & II (3.05) respectively. Post test readings for satisfaction with supervisor were 3.03. (See Table 4).

To identify the net effect of training intervention pretest reading of experiment group were subtracted from post test readings of experiment group. The resultant value was subtracted from the net value of control group to reach upon the statistics mentioned in Table 5.

Table 5 explains the net effect of training intervention on change in transformational leadership behavior and satisfaction with trained supervisor. A significant increase of mean value (0.79) in overall transformational leadership behavior was observed. There was a significant increase of mean value (.78) in satisfaction with the supervisor. This reveals the effectiveness of training in improving the transformational leadership behavior.


Results show a positive and significant relationship (.79) between transformational leadership training and satisfaction with supervisor. Pre-Training Motivation has a positive relationship (.51) with attitudinal outcomes of the training program. Individuals with higher training motivation were able to benefit more from transformational leadership training.


The results of the study have two outcomes. Firstly it explains the effectiveness of Transformational Leadership training. Secondly it narrates the relationship between pre-training motivation and training effectiveness. The results of this study are consistent with Barling et, al. (1996). Using the training methodology used in this research could increase transformational leadership behavior of trainees. However the effectiveness of this training design should be confirmed while using this design in different organizational and industrial settings. It is clear from the results that training can significantly improve transformational leadership behavior. It is further identified that transformational leadership behavior has a positive impact on satisfaction of subordinates. This reveals that different organizational benefits can be earned from such trainings . Satisfied subordinates are likely to perform better and improved transformational leadership can increase organizational effectiveness.

An important finding of this study is the positive relationship between pre-training motivation and training effectiveness in leadership contexts. This finding is helpful to organizations and their trainers. Organizations should assess the pretraining motivation of their employees before sending them to a training program (especially Transformational Leadership Training). Keeping in view the results of the study, it is highly likely that people low in training motivation may not get real benefit from the training . So organization must identify the reasons for such lack of motivation. To get maximum benefit from investment on training, these organizations may need some OD interventions first and then they should train their employees. For trainers, this study offer an interesting insight, trainers must first assess the training motivation of participants and then design an appropriate program that ensures greater learning.

This study has certain limitations. The results are based on a smaller sample. Future research may include large sample including different organizations. The appropriateness of the training intervention used in this research should be validated in future research. Organizational and individual factors affecting the transfer of such trainings should be studied. Overall this study is a preliminary effort to validate the effectiveness of transformation leadership training using an experimental design. If such studies are repeated using different output criteria like organization citizenship behavior, commitment, stress etc, it will increase our knowledge about the effectiveness of transformational leadership training.


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Author affiliation:

Rasool A. Hassan, University of Agriculture-Faisalabad

Bashir A.Fuwad, University of Agriculture-Faisalabad

Azam I. Rauf, University of Arid Agriculture-Rawalpindi

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