The Development Center

Leadership Development

The Differences Between Transactional
and Transformational Leadership Coaching

Transactional Coaching Transformational Coaching
  • Focuses on current
  • Emphasizes personal change
  • Person-centered
  • Works with individual
  • Offers models of effective behavior
  • Cognitive/behavioral orientation
  • Change happens through cognitive learning and action
  • Works with what is readily apparent
  • Focuses on current and long term
  • Emphasizes leadership growth
  • Role-centered
  • Works with person in system and context
  • Offers a framework for thinking about leadership
  • Depth/ systems psychodynamic perspective
  • Growth happens through thinking and application
  • Works with what is on the surface and beneath
Coach's Stance/Approach:
  • Counsels an individual
  • Accountability Partner
  • Coach puts emphasis on coaching skills
  • Highly interactive/possibly directive
  • Coaching seen as series of sessions
  • Sessions structured
  • Homework important
  • Short term
Coach's Stance/Approach:
  • Consults to leader's experience
  • Thinking Parner
  • Coach puts emphasis on knowledge of people, leadership theory and practice, organizations and groups
  • Listening, leader finds own way
  • Coaching seen as engagement
  • Sessions free flowing
  • Insight and application important
  • Length varies with work to be done
Common Outcomes:
  • Specific behavioral change
  • Better priorty setting, decision making, efficiency
  • Improved interpersonal skills
  • Increased resiliency or agility
  • Work is executed quicker and more smoothly
  • Not exhausted due to transactional challenges
Common Outcomes:
  • Growth in leadership capacities
  • Creation of effective leadership role
  • Leader has creative vision and begins to institute organizational innovations
  • Leader develops capacity to lead and manage organizational change
  • Person feels new flexibility and freedom in work life
Who is likely to benefit?
  • Employees at all levels in organization, especially middle managers and below where execution and transactions are central to success
  • A person whose behavior prevents him/her from reaching his/her full work potential
Who is likely to benefit?
  • Leaders with broad leadership and organizational responsibilities
  • Leaders with a great deal of latitude in their work lives
  • Leaders whose work demands they see the big picture
  • Leaders who are responsible for innovation, strategy, and creative planning
  • Persons whose success depends on leading people, teams, or organizations

by Frances Unsell