• dannydavis02

What is a Transformational Leader?

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

We often hear people referred to as, "transformational leaders," but what does that mean? Isn't all leadership transformative or transformational? Well, yes and no. Leaders certainly do bring change to persons and organizations but to what end? If the change leads toward a shared vision and goal that positively changes the behaviors, attitudes, and ethics of the individual or organization, then yes! However, some leaders are not driven by the betterment of those they work with. Instead, they make decisions that negatively transform people's lives and organizational culture. I guess what I'm saying is this: yes, all leaders are catalysts for transformation but not all transformation is driven by the goal to build up others.

So, what is a "transformational leader?" Let me offer the definition I used when writing my doctoral dissertation on the topic of transformational leadership...

Transformational leaders focus on achieving mutually shared goals above their own self-interests by casting vision with clarity and influencing followers to share in that vision by promoting follower creativity and innovation.

Look closely at some key concepts in this definition:

  1. Mutually Shared Goals: the implication is that followers have some input into the vision they are being asked to carry out. Avenues for input and feedback are built into the "vision-eering" process giving followers a legitimate voice but also an opportunity to dream and risk.

  2. Above Self-Interest: it's been said that if one wants to know if they are a leader, turn around and see if anyone is following. If no one is following it could be because the vision, the goal, the mission is centered on one person, the leader him/herself.

  3. Vision...Promoting...Creativity and Innovation: transformational leaders, because they put the interest of the person and/or organization above self-interest realize a simple truth: creativity and innovation is a team sport.

Transformational leaders transform not because they are good at leading change or generate great ideas. They transform because they are good at recognizing and nurturing the best qualities in those they lead. They understand that organizational culture is not changed through motivation but by inspiration.

What's the difference between motivation and inspiration? Well, check back next Tuesday to find out.

Until then, pray for Uganda! Pray for missions in Uganda! Pray God would use Sherry and I to be transformational leaders as we obey the call on our lives.


Dr. Danny

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