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Adlerian Concepts: Social Interest/ Transformational Leadership

Xenia J. Kozlov

Transformational Leadership: Adlerian Perspective

Globalization gives humanity new and new challenges. Our world becomes more interconnected, and societies, economies, and political systems intertwine, connecting continents and mixing cultures. Modern societies have to adopt a new way of interaction and face the problem of a rapid deterioration of the laws which have worked for centuries before (Perez, 2017).

In this new world, new moral values, new relational norms, and new requirements for leaders are emerging. The advantages of globalization may seem obvious (an increase of equality, openness, strengthening of a horizontal social movement), while the challenges might be hidden. Paradoxically, while societies come together, individuals can face certain fragmentation, increased loneliness, responsibility for themselves and feeling lost in numerous options. Especially that may happen due to booming new technologies. From the end of the 20th century, scholars have been concerned with the possibility of cultural crisis and increased adaptation requirements (e.g. Featherstone, 2000; Orazbayeva, 2016). Hogan & Benson (2009) stated that leadership is becoming a function of personality and its impact on the effectiveness of community grows continuously. The leadership qualities become a must-have of nowadays for everyone, while the even meaning of leadership is radically changing, and the best match for the emerging type of leadership is transformational leadership which, in its turn meets the standards of Adlerian worldview.

Transformational leadership emerges as a substitution for traditional transactional leadership, in which leaders used rewards for completing the tasks they’d formulated for the followers. The main difference between transformational and transactional leadership is a step towards social responsibility, and accepting individual as a part of social processes, so the goals become more common and related with common well-being, while the difference between leaders and followers disappear. (Gang, In-Sue, Courtright & Colbert, 2011).

The concepts of Individual Psychology are effective for the current situation from different points, including neuroscience perspective (Miller & Taylor, 2016) because they appeal deep individual feelings in the context of their social life and are focused both on basic human experiences and personal adaptation in society. In terms of quickly changing realities and need for changing from market to humanistic values, self-awareness and interpersonal skills are crucial because the request for horizontal connections is high (Perez, 2017). And here is what Adler wrote in “Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind (1938): “Everything that has a name in the various schools of psychology takes the same course instincts, impulses, feeling, thinking, action, the attitude to pleasure and pain, and finally self-love and social feeling” (p. 5). This perfectly matches with modern scholars’ standpoints and challenges of the 21st century as well – just because life is changing, and people still need and are driven with that self-love and social feeling.


Adler, A. (1938). Social interest: a challenge to mankind. Oxford, England: Faber & Faber.

Gang, W., In-Sue, O., Courtright, S., & Colbert A. (2011). Transformational leadership and performance across criteria and levels: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of research. Group and Organization Management, 36(2), 223-270.

Featherstone, M. (2000). Undoing Culture: Globalization, Postmodernism, and Identity. London: SAGE Publications.

Hogan, R. & Benson, M. (2009). Personality, Leadership, and Globalization: Linking Personality to Global Organizational Effectiveness. In: Mobley, W., Wang, Y. and Li, M. (Eds.) Advances in Global Leadership, 5, 11-34.

Miller, R., & Taylor, D. D. (2016). Does Adlerian Theory stand the test of time? Examining Individual Psychology from a neuroscience perspective. The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, 55(2), 111-128.

Orazbayeva, K. O. (2016) Professional Competence of Teachers in the Age of Globalization. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 9(11), 2659-2672.

Peres, J. R. (2017). Global Leadership and the Impact of Globalization. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 14(3), 48-52.

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