Northouse has criticized the clarity of the concept. He mentioned that “it is difficult to define exactly the parameters of transformational leadership” (Northouse, 2010 page 188).Tracey and Hinkin’s (1998) research uncovers an “overlap between the four components of transformational leadership”: “idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration”, demonstrating the lack of definition of dimensions: “The results from the item-level confirmatory factor correlation analyzes did not support the Four’ Is notion (Tracey and Hinkin, 1998). In addition, the four components are generally highly “correlated” and it is very difficult to identify individually the impacts of each of them. The studies conducted to date have failed to study individually the impact of each component, which has led researchers to use a “composite score”. “The component behaviors for transformational leadership are so highly intercorrelated that most studies use only a composite score for transformational leadership” (Yukl, 2010 page 324). Furthermore, the theory offers little management given the situational context. Lowy and Hood (2004) argue that leadership is determined by “circumstances” and not by “personal preferences”. According to the authors, a context and a specific situation define the leaders and not their personality traits. Leaders must manage the context in which they evolve and be able to adopt different behaviors. According to the authors: “These are the given, the context that must be managed. Leadership consists of facing these in the most constructive, creative and courageous ways, shaping and exploiting at the same time” (Lowy and Hood, 2004).
Besides, there is still ambiguity concerning the “influence
processes” for “transformational leadership”. “The underlying influence processes for transactional and
transformational leadership are not clearly explained, but they can be inferred
from the description of the behaviors and effects on follower motivation” (Yukl,
2010 page 323).
Moreover, some researchers have expressed worries about the possible “dark side” of that type of leaders, particularly regarding the possibility of misleading or manipulating followers as a means to their own interests (Price, 2003). Studies conducted by Maner & Mead (2009) revealed in many trials that influential leaders with control over others very often extracted sensitive data and sensitive restricted information or even confidential from their collaborators and did not hesitate to reject key members of the team when their positions were at stake.These studies have demonstrated motivations of leaders to misuse their power and seek to achieve their own interests even if these experiments did not directly address the theory of “transformational leadership”.