So What Is The Big Deal With Transformational Leadership Anyway!?!

Transformational Leadership has become a cultural buzz word.

Michael Hyatt recently spent and entire podcast (which I highly recommend) on this topic.

What does it really mean? Let’s start with the alternative – Transactional Leadership.

This older model of leadership includes the following emphases:

  • Singular Leader, or board, make(s) majority of directional decisions with little or no input from the group at large.
  • Plan is laid out for execution by said leader(s).
  • Buy-in is expected by those under this wing.
  • Success is measured by actionables accomplished.
  • Missed marks are embarrassing.
  • Control comes from the leader(s). Tasks are assigned and managed.
  • Top level leadership positions are earned by a season of submission and then attained if/when there is a place vacated at “the table”.

Transformational Leadership has a different approach.

  • Directional decisions are made by the leader(s) but include input from the group involved.
  • Plan is made through a team brainstorming of best processes/unique skills available.
  • Buy-in comes naturally as the group has been included from the onset.
  • Success is measured by connection with God on the journey.
  • Missed marks are mined for meaning.
  • Control is shared by all invested. Tasks are chosen and action steps are jointly planned.
  • Top level leadership influence is available for all those actively listening to God and invested in the shared outcomes.

Transformational Leadership is not for the faint of heart.

This paradigm shifting perspective can feel scary at first, but eventually the alternative is much more frightening. Let me explain.

Our culture, both marketplace and kingdom, has been changing in recent years. Gone are the days  when a “worker” was content to stick with an organization for an entire lifetime just out of loyalty. It is rare to see a 30  year commitment to the same company unless the treatment of the constituency is exemplary. High value has shifted from compliance to voice.

If the majority of the people feel they are being herded, they are less likely to put their shoulder to the work.

God designed each of us to value and embrace free will. When a transactional leader decides for their people what they should value and announces it to them, some parts of free will are taken away. In the poorest instances of this model there is an assumption that the leaders know more, hear from God more and that the people can hope to grow to be like them.

The truth is that God offers relationship directly to every person.

When we believe that only leaders can hear from God to some degree we disavow the work of the cross which split the veil in two, offering the common man access to the holy place.

Please don’t get me wrong. We need leadership for church, organization or society to run well. Someone needs to make decisions and the buck has to stop somewhere. All I am saying is the wise leader does not need to, nor should they, stand alone.

Transformational Leadership includes those affected in decision making and planning and therefore enjoys more full buy-in. Broader ideas are generated. Respect is given to all those included and personal relationship with God is encouraged.

Let’s take a quick look at Jesus’ leadership style:

Jesus did not lay out a 10 year plan for how to build the kingdom. Instead He used cloaked language, told stories about kingdom culture and built relationships.

He had a rather awkward promotions system where He actually asked people NOT to share their positive experiences with His ministry. (Personally I think this was because He had a way bigger agenda than miracles – He wanted to incite a long lasting cultural revolution!)

He washed people’s feet. Jesus didn’t invest his time only in top level leadership relationships, but most often spent time with people those top level leaders would have considered the “wrong crowd”.

Jesus didn’t just hang out with those were in agreement with Him, but spent time with people who had all kinds of perspectives. He wasn’t at all intimidated by that, but waded right in.

Instead of coming right out and telling people who He was He asked powerful questions. This  led people to their own “Ah Ha” moments that embedded in their hearts and changed history.

Jesus succession plan was less than ideal in a transactional sense. The timing was off. His people certainly seemed less than dedicated and actually a little clueless to what was really going on.

BUT Jesus had this going for Him. He had an ultimate trust that the Holy Spirit would guide people.

How about you?

Are you trusting the Holy Spirit? Do you believe those around you, even under your care can hear from Him as well?

Are you walking in transformational leadership or transactional?

Cindy Scott is a professional Life Coach, Coach Trainer and founder of Bridges Coaching. She has her roots in Elim - is an EBI grad and is ordained through Elim Fellowship along with holding a Masters in Ministry and Lifeforming Leadership Coach Training Certification. Cindy loves helping people or teams build bridges to what could be through the coaching paradigm and/or helping them understand their destiny by design!

She and her husband Eric, Care Pastor at Elim Gospel Church, have four grown children, enjoy biking on the Erie Canal Trail and love a leisurely trip to Starbucks.

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