Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 413–425 | Cite as

Transformational and Transactional Leadership and Followers’ Achievement Goals

  • Melvyn R. W. Hamstra
  • Nico W. Van Yperen
  • Barbara Wisse
  • Kai Sassenberg



Achievement goals, or the standards of competence employees pursue in their work, have far-reaching consequences for employee and organizational functioning. In the current research, we investigated whether employees’ achievement goals can be predicted from their supervisor’s leadership style.


A multilevel study was conducted in which followers of 120 organizational leaders completed measures of their leader’s transformational leadership (focusing on individual needs and abilities, on intellectual development, and on a common team mission), transactional leadership (focusing on monitoring and achievement-related rewards), and their own mastery goals (aimed at learning, developing, and mastering job-relevant skills), and performance goals (aimed at doing better than others).


Group-level transformational leadership predicted followers’ mastery goals, whereas group-level transactional leadership predicted followers’ performance goals. Within-group differences in transformational leadership also predicted mastery goals.


These findings suggest that leadership style plays an important role in the achievement goals followers adopt. Organizations may promote transactional leadership in contexts requiring that employees outperform others. In contrast, in contexts requiring learning and development, organizations may promote transformational leadership.


This research is the first to examine the relationships between leadership styles and specific follower goals, and the first to highlight the role of leadership as a social variable involved in employees’ adoption of achievement goals.


Achievement goals Goal orientation Motivation Leadership styles Transformational leadership Transactional leadership 



This research was supported by a VIDI Grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded to Kai Sassenberg (452-07-006).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melvyn R. W. Hamstra
    • 1
  • Nico W. Van Yperen
    • 2
  • Barbara Wisse
    • 2
  • Kai Sassenberg
    • 3
  1. 1.Work and Organizational PsychologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Knowledge Media Research CenterTübingenGermany

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