Transformational Leadership…

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!


2 thoughts on “Transformational Leadership…

  1. Sometimes, leadership has felt like throwing a stick for a dog with no legs.

    The ‘first spark of imagination’ that you speak of is one of my key gifts in leadership, but in the last 7 years I have mostly been ‘leading’ people who’d much rather watch me come up with the ideas, plan for them, execute them and finish them off myself. Some have been willing to move in their spiritual understanding, but forays into the mission field?

    is it so wrong to want to throw the dog and keep the stick for myself?

  2. Hmmm…depends how literally you’re talking…RSPCA might be interested!

    In the meantime, I think this is where the empowerment thing is crucial, but again it depends on the people wanting to be empowered in the first place. Perhaps it would be best to throw the dogs away and get some new ones in who know what the whole thing is about…weird metaphor!

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