Bass defines transformational leadership to be synonymous with adaptive leadership. Adaptive leadership, according to Aviolio, Bass, Berson and Jung (2003), provides a "more adaptive, flexible leadership." These adaptive leaders seemingly manage work better within ever-evolving environments. The leaders are able to analyze the situation and assist the other leaders and the followers into a better understanding of the situation and providing valuable alternative solutions to the situation. These leaders, while solving the complex situations or problems, are quite innovative in mentoring or teaching the followers to solve problems and begin to evolve into future leaders.
Transactional leadership typically means that followers accomplish the leaders goals based upon a reward-and-punishment system. At one time, this style of leadership was commonly labeled "active management by exception" according to Aviolio, Bass, Berson, and Jung (2003). The leader typically passed out awards for goal achievement and punishments of some type for failure to achieve the expected desires.
In the military and the corporate world, leaders of both styles exist. Based upon first-hand observation - and depending on the level of the organization - my experiences reveals that most military supervisors (regardless if they are active military or civilians working for the military), the transactional theory of leadership is prevalent at most levels. In the private industry corporate world, the theories would be split - based upon age of the employees. In academia, the little true leadership was found to be mostly transformational (depending upon the relationship with the management structure).
The military is very goal-oriented. Due to the constant turnover of supervisors as well as the constant revision to the goals and structure, the time and training to develop transformational style of leadership would be difficult to accomplish. However, over my 22-year career, I can recall seven years (2-3-2) where my direct line leader...