Transformational Servant Leadership Innovation

Transformational Servant Leadership Innovation Cycle (Wallace)
     I was asked this week to post some thoughts on transformational leadership relating to community development and innovation in a forum on Facebook.  That format is a little more limiting and doesn't quite give the opportunity for graphics.  Thus this morning's thoughts for your review and feedback here.

     The graphic on the left is a model of my own making describing one path to individual and organizational change. Although they follow slightly different tracks for academics and consultants/practitioners, Transformational Leadership and Servant Leadership are closely intertwined with similar meanings. One must certainly say that Servant Leadership is transformational in scope and outcomes.   Both theories and practices are discussed in detail and endorsed (if you will) by such organizational and individual change experts as the late Stephen Covey, Peter Senge, Ken Blanchard and Margaret Wheatley.

     Transformational Leadership as a term was originally used by J.V. Downton in his 1973 work Rebel Leadership: Commitment and Charisma in a Revolutionary Process (out of print and very expensive).  Leadership author extraordinaire James MacGregor Burns provided more details in his seminal 1978 work Leadership, which is available for under $12.00 and a tremendous value at the price. His 2004 follow up Transforming Leadership is less than $14.00.  There are excellent books on the subject by the late Bernard Bass (Binghamton University), Ronald Riggio (Claremont) and Bruce Avolio (University of Washington).  All three are giants in the field.

Transformational Culture Leadership  Model (Wallace)
     The standard for measuring transformational leadership is the MLQ from Mindgarden in California.  The technical terminology is the 5 I's listed above, though for a more common understanding I would use the terms: Trust; Symbols/Myths (story telling - Edgar Schein); Learning Culture and Relationships.  I know that's only four.  In recent years the folks at Mindgarden have split idealized influence into attributed and actual behavior of the leader.

     Servant Leadership, for me at least, takes it origins from Jesus Christ, though one could easily say Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius and other spiritual leaders express like minds before organized religion often twists their theologies.  The modern movement was developed by Robert Greenleaf and is promoted through the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in California.  The principles begin with self-knowledge (foundational for any effective leader); Listening; Developing your Colleagues; Foresight (vision); Coaching (not controlling); Unleashing the Energy of your Cohorts; and a Pyramid Change.  That last precept in particular echos the tremendous organizational growth achieved by HCL and the work of Vineet Nayar and Anand Pillai told in the very affordable Employees First Customers Second.  Graphically we'd represent it like this example of an inverted hotel org chart as part of my master's thesis.

     The foundational basis for individual and organizational change is the trust that comes from altruistic integrity.  Transformational and Servant Leaders don't think or speak in terms of "I", but "we" (Peter F. Drucker).   They put their own agendas and rewards aside for the good of the team, department, organization and community (however large one wishes to define that).  As anyone can clearly see it's something completely missing from the U.S. Congress these days, but evident in many corporations that continue to innovate, grow and prosper in a very difficult global economy.  Transformational and Servant leaders build trust by engaging their cohorts, listening, sharing stories (visions) and developing relationships crucial to organizational development.  These leaders encourage ongoing personal and professional development (learning) among their followers, even though at times that means they will leave the organization for greener pastures.  These practices then build the adaptability and flexibility both individually and organizationally to overcome obstacles, seize opportunities and innovate.

Transformational Servant Leadership Innovation Cycle (Wallace)
      None of this is rocket science.  And one could easily bring in the work of John Medina (Brain Rules), Daniel  Pink (Drive), Howard Gardner (Five Minds for the Future), and Gary Hamel (What Matters Now) to find correlations in neurology, behavioral economics, psychology and management that verify the accuracy of the graphic on the left intentionally repeated.  At the end of the day it becomes a matter of what we choose to do to improve ourselves and then how we transfer that knowledge to encourage others to do the same.    Fortune 500 or employee non-profit organization it makes no difference.  Are we willing to do something that helps solve whatever opportunities are in front of us? The world certainly could use more transformational and servant leaders who put the greater good of humanity and community over self gratification and greed.

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