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TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP: The Ties that “BOND”

Pulitzer Prize winner, James MacGregor Burns first brought the concept of transformational leadership to prominence in his extensive research into leadership. His key innovation in leadership theory was shifting away from studying the traits of great men and transactional management to focus on the interaction of leaders and led as collaborators working toward mutual benefit. He is best known for contributions to the Transformational, Aspirational and Visionary schools of leadership theory.

Excerpts from his book Leadership:

* Leadership over human beings is exercised when persons with certain motives and purposes mobilize, in competition or conflict with others, institutional, political, psychological, and other resources so as to arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of followers… in order to realize goals mutually held by both leaders and followers….

* Transformational leadership occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality.

* That people can be lifted into their better selves is the secret of transforming leadership and the moral and practical theme of this work.

“Essentially the leader’s task is consciousness-raising on a wide plane. The leader’s fundamental act is to induce people to be aware or conscious of what they feel – to feel their true needs so strongly, to define their values so meaningfully, that they can be moved to purposeful action.”

In this leadership style, the leader enhances the motivation, moral and performance of his follower group. So according to MacGregor – transformational leadership is all about values and meaning, and a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order needs.

At times of organizational change, and big step change, people do feel insecure, anxious and low in energy – so in these situations and especially in these difficult times, enthusiasm and energy are infectious and inspiring. And yet so many organizational changes fail because leaders pay attention to the changes they are facing instead of the transitions people must make to accommodate them.

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