Tag Archives: resilience

Thoughts on Transformational Leadership, Part II

From Chapter 2 of the essay All Shine: How Stewardship Built a Vision

 

Transformational leaders have made a significant impact on our world from the beginning of time.  In all domains of knowledge, social policy and morality, these leaders have inspired others towards greatness, building cities and nations, ending slavery and other forms of injustice, and boldly expanding knowledge of humanity, even at the expense of death or ridicule.

But, to put it bluntly, transformational leadership can be dangerous.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt presided over the United States during the Great Depression and most of America’s involvement in World War II, and is almost universally credited with saving the economic system of the United States and inspiring a nation to collectively roll up its sleeves and work together to defeat fascism abroad.  FDR was without a doubt, a profoundly transformational leader, and he is frequently pointed to as an example of this style par excellence by leadership scholars.

But, so was Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany and the chief architect of the most devastating war and large-scale murder in the history of the world.  Like Roosevelt, Hitler provided intellectual stimulation, mentored his closest followers (consideration), provided inspirational motivation to the masses, and became the model of the very ideals he promoted in his speeches and policies.

In my understanding, the dark side of transformational leadership can be mitigated by promoting awareness of the dangers of authoritarianism and the need for leaders to encourage others to lead.  Ultimately, the best transformational leaders work to build transformational leadership in their followers and leave behind a legacy that outlasts themselves.  In other words, to be genuinely transformational and positive, leaders should steadily work to make their own selves obsolete.

Admittedly, this is extremely hard to do, which is why transformational leadership so often devolves into the dark side of charismatic leadership.

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler’s Transformational Leadership inspired the largest mass murder and large-scale war in world history.

Thoughts on Transformational Leadership, Part I

From Chapter 2 of the essay All Shine: How Stewardship Built a Vision

 

Transformational Leadership  This style of leadership has powerful pros and cons.  In a time of crisis or change, transformational leaders can build inspiration, commitment and a can-do attitude in those who are part of an organization or project.  Much has been written about transformational leadership, and there are quite a few insights offered by leadership scholars about what transformational leadership looks like and what specific behaviors, attitudes and strategies this style entails.

James MacGregor Burns, a presidential biographer and leadership expert introduced the idea of transformational leadership decades ago, and his framework was further expanded by the work of Bernard M. Bass.  Other leadership scholars have further studied the phenomenon, which has led to a further illumination of the key behaviors of transformational leaders.  Below is a list developed by these researchers of the four key behaviors.  The descriptions are in my own words, but the categories are drawn from the literature.

Key Behaviors of Transformational Leaders

 

  • Individualized Consideration – The transformational leader carefully studies his followers and searches for their gifts and strengths.  Once he understands what they are capable of -and perhaps where their growing edge lies- he works steadily and consistently alongside each individual and helps to transform the latent gifts into fully realized personal visions.  No one in the organization or group project is left to his own devices.  Followers are individually cultivated to be the best they can be.
  • Intellectual Stimulation – Transformational leaders provide a compelling framework for the way forward, clarifying and transforming visions and goals.  The key here is to stimulate the thinking of the organization by satisfying the intellectual appetites of the team.  Ideas are carefully crafted with an eye on the mission, and virtually no ground is left uncovered.  There is no ambiguity around “why we are here.”
  • Inspirational Motivation –  To be truly transformational, a leader must inspire her followers. This behavior is similar to individualized consideration, but the key difference is that the attention is paid to the macro-ideals and values that inform the organization’s mission and goals, in addition to the micro-attention to individuals characterized by individualized consideration.  Here, the transformational leader points to societal goals, shared values, and humanity’s deepest aspirations.  Inspirational motivation goes a long way in transforming an organization, especially in times of crisis.
  • Idealized Influence – This aspect of transformational leadership brings to light the centrality of the leadership-followership paradigm in this style.  There is no question that there is a key figure in the organization or enterprise and that she has become the model for the organization’s values, norms and commitments.  Simply stated, the leader promotes, expresses and inhabits certain values and behaviors.  And the followers -learning by example- eventually emulate and potentially elevate those values and behaviors.  Put another way, the transformational leader intentionally influences her followers towards the adoption of specific ideals and becomes the expression of those ideals.
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Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was an extraordinary Transformational Leader, igniting the Civil Rights movement and promoting profound humanistic values among millions of people.

 

 

Post tragic resilience

Good afternoon.

I got back to work today on a recording project called “Eleventh Hour Shine”.

The song we are working on is called “Hollowed by the Sun.” It’s about a male bee who is dying under the scorching sun, caught between a window pane and a screen.  It is one of a few songs on the record that deals with the issue of death awareness.

It has only been two weeks since the sudden death of a loved one, and it’s interesting that the song that was interrupted by death is itself about death and dying.

It was healthy to get back to the project, but I felt somewhat deflated and perfunctory as we proceeded.

But, there was progress. As they say in self-help circles, one day at a time.

*The photo below of two bees was taken by Anthony Lee.

Hollowed by the sun lyricsIMG_3936