Transactional Leadership in the Short vs. Long Term

All of my life, I always thought I responded better to punishments rather than rewards. I don’t know if this stems from aggressive foreign coaches who ran the sports teams I was a part of when I was younger or how I was wired as a person, but I always felt that punishments for sub-par work motivated me to perform at a higher level for fear of being punished or embarrassed.

However, in Von Reuden’s class we learned about Transactional Leadership and my view began to change. We learned that this system of punishments and rewards keeps members of a team motivated but only in the short-term. This was evident throughout the duration of my internship. I noticed that while my direct supervisor was friendly enough, her comments on my work were usually short, and the praise or ridicule I received was very curt and not that specific. Since I am just an intern and not a full-time employee, it made sense that they would not want to invest that much time or energy into me since I was only there for the summer.

I did find throughout the summer that I responded way more positively to praise I received rather than ridicule, which surprised me at first. The positive feedback I received motivated me to do even better research than before so I could keep improving the work I was sending to my supervisor. This transactional method did work well for my time there, because it is very effective when it comes to correcting specific tasks which I found to be very true in my personal experience.

Furthermore, Transactional Leadership works well for specific tasks rather than the long term, more progressive ideas which I also found to be true in my day-to-day experiences. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I worked on four different accounts this summer. I am more of a creative person and am very interested in marketing, so throughout the summer I came up with some new ideas that these brands could implement (that I backed up with research to show why they would actually work) and sent them over to my supervisor. Rather than helping me or even taking the time to talk to me about these ideas, she sent back an email saying that since we are just a PR agency, we should only be doing XYZ tasks for our clients rather than thinking outside the box. This was definitely another example of how Transactional Leadership does not help foster long-term development within an organization or new ideas.