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Full Range Leadership

The ability to use the full range of leadership behaviors is what separates ineffective from effective leaders. This NebGuide explains the full range of leadership behaviors, transactional and transformational leadership.


John E. Barbuto, Jr., Associate Professor, Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication
Lance L. Cummins-Brown, Agribusiness Program Coordinator, Department of Agricultural Economics


The full range leadership model is based more than 100 years of leadership research. It identifies both transactional and transformational behaviors.

Transactional behaviors include laissez-faire (hands-off leadership), management-by-exception (putting out the fires) and contingent rewards (let’s make a deal).

Transformational behaviors include individualized consideration (compassionate leadership), intellectual stimulation (thinking outside of “the box”), inspirational motivation (exciting the masses/sharing the vision), and idealized influence (walking the walk). Research conducted in Nebraska shows that leaders able to practice these four behaviors tend to gain extra effort from employees, experience higher employee satisfaction and higher productivity and greater organizational effectiveness.

Full Range Leadership Model

Transactional Leadership

Laissez-Faire (Hands-off leadership)

Management-By-Exception (Putting out the fires)

Contingent Rewards (Let’s make a deal!)

Transformational Leadership

Individualized Consideration (Compassionate leader)

Intellectual Stimulation (Thinking outside of the box)

Inspirational Motivation (Exciting the masses/Sharing the vision)

Idealized Influence (Actions speak louder than words)

The chart above illustrates the full range of leadership behaviors. Laissez-faire (LF) is the most inactive and generally least effective of the leader behaviors. Research shows that leaders using this style of leadership are rarely viewed as effective on the job. Management-by-exception (MBE) is more effective than laissez-faire, but is generally ineffective leadership.

Management-by-exception behavior often is related to high employee turnover and absenteeism, poor satisfaction and poor perception of organizational effectiveness. Contingent rewards (CR) can be an effective style of leadership. However, leaders will not get more than they bargain for when practicing this style of leadership.

It is only with the remaining four behaviors that leaders are able to motivate followers to perform above expectations and transcend their own self-interest for the sake of the organization. The four — individualized consideration (IC), intellectual stimulation (IS), inspirational motivation (IM), and idealized influence (II) — all have resulted in extra effort from workers, higher productivity, higher morale and satisfaction, higher organizational effectiveness, lower turnover, lower absenteeism and greater organizational adaptability to changes in the environment.

Based on these findings, leaders are generally most effective when they regularly use each of the four transformational behaviors (individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized influence) to build on contingent rewards.

Sources of Data

Leadership Development Extension Leadership Workshops Conducted by John E. Barbuto, Jr. throughout the State of Nebraska, from July 1997 to July 1999.

Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass’ and Stogdill’s Handbook of leadership. New York: Free Press.

Bass, B. M., and Avolio, B. J. (1994). Improving organizational effectiveness through transformational leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.



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