Been away on a study block for my course this week – managed to get some quality time in the library to look a bit more into ‘transformational leadership’. A few qoutes from a key text by the ‘daddy’ of the genre, James MacGregor Burns (Transformational Leadership, Grove Press 2003) leapt from the page:
‘But to transform something cuts more profoundly. It is to cause a metamorphis in form of structure, a change in the very condition or nature of a thing.’ p24
‘But at testing times when people confront the possibilities – and threat – of great change, powerful foundational values are evoked. They are the inspiration and guide to people who who pursue and seek to shape change, and they are the standards by which the realisation of the highest intentions is measured.’ p29
‘All this change is from the ground up. In the broadest terms, transforming change flows not from the work of the “great man” who single handedly makes history, but from the collective acheivement of a “great people”. While leadership is necessary at every stage, beginning with the first spark that awakens peoples hopes, it’s vital role is to create and expand the opportunities that empower people to pursue happiness for themselves.’ p240
Lessons to be learnt…?
Firstly, that when we think about change, it’s not enough ‘just’ to play with the details, but it’s important to seek to challenge the very form of the organisation undergoing change. Secondly, that it’s our foundational values (DNA post) that will guide us as we undertake this transformation…but we can’t slip back into the 19th century! Thirdly, that this must be a collective thing, not just a group of individuals forging their own destinies. Too often we’ve relied on charismatic leadership, too often that’s led us nowhere. (Here comes my marxism mantra) Surely it will be the people who bring the change…only then will the whole organisation move forward. There will be pathfinders, there will be prophets and scouts, but they cannot become ‘superstars’…
Learning many relevant lessons, as you can see!