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Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Transformational Leadership


Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Transformational Leadership

At our recent OD conference in Jamaica, Ray Johnson, CEO of Exit Experts, introduced us to several key topics during his keynote address – Organization Citizenship Behavior (OCB) and Transformational Leadership.

Organization Citizenship Behavior (OCB) is those things done by people in an organization that are not part of their job description or job requirement, but that make a positive contribution to the organization.  In other words, discretionary individual behavior that is not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization.

Research shows that OCB’s have can a positive impact on employee and customer satisfaction and engagement, turnover, and performance.

Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Five Categories

  1. Altruism – Discretionary behaviors that have the effect of helping a specific other person with an organizationally relevant task or problem.
  2. Conscientiousness – Discretionary behaviors on the part of the employee that goes beyond the minimum role requirements of the organization, in the areas of attendance, obeying rules and regulations, taking breaks, and so forth.
  3. Sportsmanship – Willingness of the employee to tolerate less than ideal circumstances without complaining, initiating petty grievances, railing against real or imagined slights, and making “federal cases” out of “small potatoes.”
  4. Courtesy – Considerate behavior on the part of an individual aimed at preventing work-related problems with others from occurring. Like cleaning up in the cafeteria or sharing a resource.
  5. Civic Virtue – Behavior on the part of an individual that indicates that he/she responsibly participates in, is involved in or is concerned about the well-being of the company.

OCB impacts an employee’s job satisfaction, job performance ratings, and rewards, and is tied to organizational outcomes such as business performance, customer satisfaction, and reduced cost and turnover, and employee performance.  OCB can be taught, measured, and rewarded.  OCB can be an observed during the employment interview process.

How to implement an Organizational Citizenship Behavior Action


  1. Understand the importance of OCB to an organization – read about it, share it with your team, talk about it.
  2. Learn to recognize examples of OCBs that you and others in your organization are exhibiting. Then you will see opportunities for encouraging it more informally or even formally.
  3. Lead by example by conscientiously demonstrating OCBs
  4. Educate and encourage staff to demonstrate OCBs
  5. Reward people for OCB behavior – Verbally is the best and easiest way. Once you start requiring it or paying for it, it may no longer be an OCB, but closer to a job requirement.
  6. Learn how to recognize OCB oriented people and hire for those qualities.


Transformational Leadership versus Transactional Leadership


Transactional Leadership Defined: Short Term, Focused Goals, Contingent Reward Exchange. Transactional leadership is focused on giving the followers what they want in exchange for the something the leader wants.

Transactional leaders focus on the proper exchange of resources. Whereas transformational leadership results in followers identifying with the needs of the leader, the transactional leader gives followers something they want in exchange for something the leader wants (Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987).  Transactional leadership is more commonplace than is transformational leadership.

The three dimensions of transactional leadership are a contingent reward, management by exception—active, and management by exception—passive. Transactional Leadership is based on motivational theory – people perform based on their need for extrinsic values.


Transformational Leadership (TFL) Defined: A leadership style that causes a change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.

Transformational leaders offer a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order intrinsic needs.

Transformational leadership encourages OCB and extra effort. Transformational leaders can promote OCB by giving feedback, recognizing accomplishments and good work, providing rewards, showing respect and caring, and allowing others to make mistakes, standing up for others when needed.

Leaders can Learn Transformational Leadership –

Bernard Bass provides us with a model he views as essential for leaders to develop a transformational style based on four competency areas known as the 4I’s of Transformational Leadership: Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, Individualized Consideration.

Idealized Influence (I.I.): (Developing the Vision) The leader emphasizes the importance of having a collective sense of mission and reassures others that obstacles will be overcome. They are willing to take risks, they are consistent, can be counted on to do the right thing, and demonstrate high standards of ethical and moral conduct. They champion exciting new possibilities.

Inspirational Motivation (I.M.): (Selling the Vision) The leader articulates a compelling vision of the future, talks optimistically about the future and enthusiastically about what needs to be accomplished.

Intellectual Stimulation (I.S.): (Finding the way forwards) The leader stimulates others’ effort to be innovative and creative by questioning assumptions, gets others to look at problems from many different angles. Encourages non-traditional thinking. New ideas and creative solutions are solicited.

Individualized Consideration (I.C.): (Leading the Charge) The leader spends time teaching and coaching and helping others to develop their strengths. New learning opportunities are created along with a supportive climate in which to grow.

Transformational Leadership can be developed over time with learning, assessments, role plays, activities, transfer of knowledge, and by receiving coaching and feedback.

By implementing the MLQ – Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, individuals can gain insight into their transformational leadership behaviors and identify their strengths and opportunities for improvement. They can also seek coaching and feedback to grow their transformational leadership behaviors.  They should reinforce and support the transformational leadership behaviors in their supervisors and integrate the new behaviors into the corporate culture.


Transformational Leadership Descriptors:

  1. I act in ways that build others’ respect for me
  2. I consider the moral and ethical consequences of decisions
  3. I specify the importance of having a strong sense of purpose
  4. I talk optimistically about the future
  5. I express confidence that goals will be achieved
  6. I seek differing perspectives when solving problems
  7. I re-examine critical assumptions to question whether they are appropriate
  8. I consider an individual as having different needs, abilities, and aspirations from others
  9. I help others to develop their strengths
  10. I treat others as individuals rather than just as a member of a group
  11. I instill pride in others for being associated with me
  12. I display a sense of power and confidence
  13. I go beyond self-interest for the good of the group
  14. I talk about my most important values and beliefs
  15. I emphasize the importance of having a collective sense of mission
  16. I talk enthusiastically about what needs to be accomplished
  17. I articulate a compelling vision of the future
  18. I suggest new ways of looking at how to complete assignments
  19. I get others to look at problems from many different angles
  20. I spend time teaching and coaching




Organization Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs) – There are five types of organizational citizenship behavior – Altruism, Conscientiousness, Sportsmanship, Courtesy, and Civic Virtue.  Employees demonstrating these behaviors have a tendency to be more engaged, complain less, accept change, demonstrate higher emotional intelligence, make effective decisions, come up with creative ideas, and solutions to problems, have higher ethical values, are more innovated, risk-taking and concerned with impacting the organization results.


Transformational leadership is a leadership approach that causes a change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.

Transformational leaders focus on higher level opportunities by developing, articulating, and inspiring others with his or her vision of the future.  They set high-performance expectations to achieve excellence, quality, and high performance from followers. They recognize accomplishments. Transformational style of leadership yields higher results for organizations who support and value transformational leadership throughout their culture. Transformational leaders have impacted higher ratings on employee engagement, customer satisfaction scores, increased employee performance and decreased retention, and overall organization performance


Dr. Nancy Zentis, CEO Institute of Organization Development




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