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Transactional Leadership and Job Satisfaction


This chapter reviews the literature on transactional leadership, job satisfaction, and any association between the two topics. Several works of literature exist on the relationship between transactional leadership and job satisfaction, and this research will build up from them. This paper intends to fill the gap in the Azerbaijan region, where there is no existing study on the relationship between transactional leadership and job satisfaction in learning institutions.


Transactional Leadership

Leadership in institutions matters as studies reveal that it directly influences the career satisfaction of teachers (Hariri et al., 2014; Shila & Sevilla, 2015; Ward, 2013; Yeigh et al., 2019). According to Wu (2017), institution leaders have constantly played a significant role in improving teachers’ performance and ensuring they are satisfied with their jobs. Therefore, leadership styles by school administrators are associated with their decision-making styles that could hugely influence the satisfaction levels of teachers. Efficient leaders are those that can form a conducive environment within the institution and include the teachers during decision making.

The basis of the theory on transactional leadership is on the behavioural belief systems, which, when reinforced positively or negatively, works to benefit any institution. School leaders that adhere to this theory have a belief that the hierarchy or chain of command performs well when it can encourage employees to work better, improve their productivity, and be fulfilled with their careers. Through adhering to transactional leadership, these leaders will strictly follow commands and rules and assume their juniors will do the same. Discipline has been determined as key to transactional leadership, and any employee adhering to it believes in the chain of command and that it should be firmly sustained (Wu, 2017). The transactional leadership style ensures smooth workflow because it ensures that there are more minor doubts in employees’ minds on what their roles are. By strictly following the chain of command, leaders can pinpoint areas that are not working as required and give them the ability to make transformations.

Transactional leadership, also known as managerial leadership, is attentive to the social transactions or interactions between teachers and leaders. This leadership style emphasises the role of team performance, supervision, and organisation. It refers to the leadership style where school leaders encourage teacher compliance through punishment and rewards. Through the use of punishment and reward systems, leaders using transactional leadership have the ability to keep the teachers satisfied with their careers in the short run. However, leaders using the transactional style are not optimistic about future change as they prefer to maintain things as they are. These leaders are fault finders since they often look for a way to trace faults to the employees (Hariri et al., 2016). This form of leadership is better implemented during emergencies as well as crises, and also when tasks are required to be performed in a particular manner. Leaders using transactional style run their business by determining the employees’ wants and giving rewards that fulfil their needs for specific appropriate performances.

Research by Bass (1997) highlighted diverse behaviour dimensions that transactional leaders must-have. According to him, these leaders may not have the ability to establish a conducive work environment for their employees. These dimensions include laissez-faire leadership, passive management, active management, and contingent award. Laissez-faire refers to the degree to which leaders evade making verdicts and are not available to check out on the requests. Passive management is the level to which administrators are ignorant of an issue and only attempt to act on it when a grave problem happens. Active management refers to the extent a leader controls employees, closely observes their performance, as well as track their mistakes. The contingent award is the degree a leader offers awards so as to attain a particular goal.

Currently, transactional leadership can be termed as an exchange between a leader and employees, whereby the leader punishes the employee for bad appraisal and rewards for good performance. Therefore, the nature of this leadership style is one that results in compliance to avoid being punished and expect a reward in return (Spitzbart, 2013). These leaders ensure a clear division is visible between responsibility and task to ensure that each of their employees is aware of what is expected of them. Institutional leaders can empower teachers to fulfil all assigned obligations and duties. Usually, there is a contractual relationship between school heads and teachers, whereby costs for failure or success to address opportunities are discussed. In a perfect situation, the leader can discuss the rewarding structure with staff to discover a solution that satisfies both parties.

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction by employees can result from being empowered, coached, open communication, training and development, and successful team building. The leaders can ensure this by recognising and rewarding employees, hiring the right staff, displaying excellent service, and clear goal orientation. High job satisfaction results in reduced resignation rates of teachers, increased teacher-student relations, and better student performance within the institution. There are various guidelines that institution leaders must adhere to to ensure job satisfaction by teachers. These guidelines are: ensure that all teachers know how their roles can uphold the institution’s mission; determine desirable behaviour, performance results, and achievement reward; establish job structures that motivate employees; and provide feedback. Other guidelines include reward execution of anticipated achievements and behaviours, awarding teachers with things that matter to them; treating staff equally when giving awards; and considering all teachers as an essential part to ensure the institution’s success.

Institution leaders at the highest-rank managerial position play a key role in determining the institution’s culture that impacts teachers (Kurland et al., 2010). Historically, the role of these leaders was to manage the school’s administrative work, such as teacher activities. However, recently, their role has transformed in that they have become academic leaders, and greater emphasis is given to their leadership style and its effect on the school community. Their current role is limited to managing their administrative duties and developing strategic plans to enhance institution performance, improve the productivity of teachers, ensure they are motivated, increase the rate of retention, and plays a core role within the school. Research by Sayadi (2016) also suggested that educators are more empowered and confident when the institution leaders show an appropriate leadership form and involve them during decision-making to establish a professional and collaborative setting founded on respect and trust.

Another study revealed that the leadership styles institutional leaders employ have a positive association with the organisational commitment of teachers and a negative link with burnout of staff (Eslamieh & Amir-Hossein, 2016). The research further showed that pressure from institution leaders is amongst the primary reasons for educators’ burnout and quitting their jobs. Contrarily, an effective leader is mainly responsible for enhancing teachers’ career satisfaction, enhancing school productivity, and organisational commitment. There are various studies that discuss how institutional leaders influence teachers in several countries (Adhi et al., 2013; Shila & Sevilla, 2015). Currently, no studies focus on transactional leadership and its influence on the job satisfaction of teachers in Azerbaijan. Therefore, this paper aims to fill the gap by exploring institutions within the country and revealing any evidence that transactional leadership does influence the job satisfaction of teachers within the region. The outcome of this research is expected to be beneficial for institutional leaders to encourage a conducive learning environment for career fulfilment. It will also enable them to comprehend the leadership styles that improve educators’ performance and career satisfaction.

Transactional Leadership and Job Satisfaction

Previous studies have researched the association between transactional leadership and career fulfilment. One study proved that there is a positive and considerable link between job satisfaction and transactional leadership (Hongnou et al., 2014). This relationship is affected by aspects of recognition, advancement, achievement, salary, and working conditions. Another study backed the argument that a positive association exists between job satisfaction and transactional leadership (Rizi et al., 2013). Conversely, other researchers also claim that staff career satisfaction is not reliant on the transactional leadership style. Ali et al. (2013) stated that there is no significant association between transactional leadership form and career fulfilment. A different study was conducted in public sector companies within Malaysia so as to explore the impact of leadership styles on career satisfaction (Voon et al., 2011). Categorically, the outcome revealed no significant link between career satisfaction and transactional leadership. Therefore, most studies have shown that transactional leadership style positively impacts employee satisfaction.


Career fulfilment is perceived as a vital stimulant for motivating employees to work well, as well as perform tasks promptly, requiring leaders to address such problems with all the significance needed. Therefore, leaders need to comprehend and ensure that their employees are satisfied with their jobs. Moreover, leaders must understand the different leadership forms and their roles in ensuring employee career fulfilment. Previous research revealed that transactional leadership, when employed in specific dimensions, positively impacts job satisfaction. There are different dimensions of transactional leadership: laissez-faire, passive management by exception, active management by exception, and contingent award. Through several studies, transactional leadership form could be a healthy behaviour that leaders could employ to enable their staff to create positive feelings regarding their jobs.


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