The Transforming Leader: New Approaches to Leadership for the Twenty-First Century

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Based on three years of study into the topic of transformational leadership, this is a definitive guide to becoming a leader for positive change. The best, most original thinking from psychologists, business leaders, religious leaders, organizational experts, and academics are brought together in this life-changing volume.

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1 Transactional and Transformational Leadership: Their Foundations in Power and Influence

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Michael J. Lovaglia, Jeffrey W. Lucas, and Amy Baxter

While Burns’s work has focused primarily on political leaders, others—initially and most notably Bernard Bass—have expanded his ideas and applied them to organizational leadership. The first essay in this section, by Michael Lovaglia, Jeffrey Lucas, and Amy Baxter, integrates transformational leadership theory with power theories, reporting findings from contemporary research that tests the efficacy of various philosophies when actually practiced in workplace settings or simulated situations. Although they conclude that transformational leadership is, in fact, more effective than transactional leadership, they also show how other models of leadership can support transformational leadership success. Overall, they provide research data that can build confidence that transformational leadership does work, even in settings where power and status are highly valued.

One of the most influential theoretical developments in the study of leadership has been James MacGregor Burns’s (1978) distinction between transactional and transformational leadership. Transactional leadership motivates through the measured application of promised rewards and threatened punishments, while transformational leadership motivates by transforming the identities and goals of individuals to coincide with those of the group. Burns not only researched the ways that leaders pursued their goals but also envisioned an ideal of leadership that minimized the use of coercive power and brought out the best in followers. Transformed by good leadership, followers would strive to accomplish goals that perhaps even the leader had not fully realized. Followers, then, might both be led by and push leaders to a greatness that had not before been contemplated. Both followers and leaders would be transformed.

 

2 Leadership in Action: Three Essential Energies

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Betty Sue Flowers

To illustrate what such transformational leadership looks like in practice, Betty Sue Flowers offers a lively and touching example of how President Lyndon B. Johnson collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. and persuaded members of Congress to pass groundbreaking civil rights legislation. Flowers shows how LBJ, whom she acknowledges was in some ways a flawed leader, nevertheless fully utilized his power as president to transformational effect. At the same time, King ably led and collaborated with the multitudes of people (and leaders at many levels) within the civil rights movement—all of whom were essential to its success. Flowers’s essay is a wonderful vehicle for providing an image for us of what leadership as a complex, interactive process looks like. It also contributes to leadership thinking about how to free up energy to get worthy things done, even in situations where success requires cross-sector cooperation and collaboration. Finally, it shows us that transformational leaders can be tough as well as inspiring in the interest of socially desirable ends.

 

3 Leadership and Organizational Networks: A Relational Perspective

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Philip Willburn and Michael Campbell

The more we grasp the kind of complex interaction Burns, Lovaglia/Lucas/Baxter, and Flowers write about, the more important it is to understand not just leaders, but the groups and social networks they lead. Philip Willburn and Michael Campbell employ insights from social networking theory to do just that. This knowledge can help you get your vision out effectively to a large number of people that you communicate with directly. In the following essay, they provide a model that you can use to analyze the social networks you influence. As leaders, we often believe that if we develop a plan and share it, the people who report to us will implement it because it is their job to do so. But people act like people, and not necessarily according to an organizational chart. Their energy to implement any plan is dependent on (1) whether the communication gets to them in a way that is motivating and sparks their imaginations, and (2) who they listen to and what those people say about the plan.

 

4 Positive Power: Transforming Possibilities through Appreciative Leadership

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Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom

Much of leadership success depends on working with, not against, natural processes—whether social, as illustrated by Willburn and Campbell, or psychological, as addressed in this essay. In his seminal article on appreciative inquiry, “Positive Image, Positive Action: The Affirmative Basis of Organizing,” David L. Cooperrider (2001) built a scientific case for the power of positive images to inspire energy for change. Examples of this kind of “placebo effect” —that is, a healing immune response—include (1) the Pygmalion effect, whereby people live up to the positive images others have of them; (2) the power of imaging in athletic success; and (3) the phenomenon of learned helpfulness as the antidote to learned helplessness, triggered by images and stories of figures like Mother Teresa. Cooperrider argued that leaders can evoke similar power by providing images that reinforce a desired outcome. Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom have been primary cocreators with Cooperrider of the appreciative inquiry community of practice. In the following essay, they provide a history of the development of positive psychology, the strengths movement, and appreciative inquiry as an organizational intervention, with practical applications for enhancing your capacity for bringing out the best in yourself, other people, and entire organizations.

 

5 Dancing on a Slippery Floor: Transforming Systems, Transforming Leadership

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Kathleen Allen

Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom introduced us to the psychological shift in progress from focusing on problems to discovering and reinforcing the capacities people and organizations possess, so that we can have the confidence to implement desired future visions. In this essay, new ways of thinking, pioneered in the physical and biological sciences, illustrate how we as contemporary leaders can reframe our responses to twenty-first-century challenges. Building on the work of Margaret Wheat-ley (1992) and others, Kathleen Allen summarizes major themes in the advances from Newtonian to quantum physics and from an industrial to a biological paradigm. She then applies these lessons to leadership in ways that work with, rather than fight against, natural processes, showing how you can build your capacity for experiencing greater ease and less resistance to the challenges of leading in today’s world.

How do we know when our thinking needs to be transformed? One way is when the beliefs and assumptions we have no longer provide a way to explain what is going on in our life and organizations. Another way is when our actions that flow from our beliefs require more energy and resources to achieve the same or fewer results (Lynch & Kordis, 1988).

 

6 On Mattering: Lessons from Ancient Wisdom, Literature, and the New Sciences

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Barbara Mossberg

The new sciences, especially chaos and complexity theories, show us that everything affects everything else, which undermines the notion that any one country, any one kind of people, or any one set of ideas is central while others are at best tangential. This realization also can free you up from any remaining fear that only certain leaders—at the top of countries, global corporations, or international agencies—have power and the rest of us are nobodies without the means to make a difference. In the final essay in this section, Barbara Mossberg demonstrates how ancient wisdom, literature, and modern science combine to affirm that we all do matter—and hence how important it is that each of us steps forward to make a difference. Her essay is, thus, a call to you to assume responsibility for your own part in making the difference needed today. In the process, she also urges you to take the time to understand complexity, beginning with your own.

To believe … that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,—that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense…. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within…. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Setting the Context for Part Two

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Deepening and Expanding Inner Capacities for Becoming the Change

Our success as leaders begins with how we think, as described in the introduction to Part One; but by itself, changing the content and structure of our thinking is not enough. Leadership success today depends equally on developing our inner capacities in ways that fundamentally change who we are. As Mahatma Gandhi (1913/1958) said:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do. (p. 241)

Inherent in Gandhi’s words, and reinforcing Mossberg’s injunctions in Part One, is the belief that what we embody has weight beyond what we say, do, or even think. And certainly, most of us today look beyond mere leadership strategies and even inspiring words to assess the quality of the person leading.

 

Deepening and Expanding Inner Capacities for Becoming the Change

ePub

Deepening and Expanding Inner Capacities for Becoming the Change

Our success as leaders begins with how we think, as described in the introduction to Part One; but by itself, changing the content and structure of our thinking is not enough. Leadership success today depends equally on developing our inner capacities in ways that fundamentally change who we are. As Mahatma Gandhi (1913/1958) said:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do. (p. 241)

Inherent in Gandhi’s words, and reinforcing Mossberg’s injunctions in Part One, is the belief that what we embody has weight beyond what we say, do, or even think. And certainly, most of us today look beyond mere leadership strategies and even inspiring words to assess the quality of the person leading.

 

7 The New Basics: Inner Work for Adaptive Challenges

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Katherine Tyler Scott

Katherine Tyler Scott’s essay describes why it is that leaders need to do their inner work to be able to meet the challenges they face today. Many of the participants in the Fetzer dialogues credited an internal call in the face of a compelling need in the world as their motivation to lead. Many also described a feeling of certainty that a particular setting or issue was theirs to take on. This awareness drove them to develop inner qualities that incrementally allowed them to meet the next challenge (and the next and the next) that arose on their leadership journeys. The forms of such spurs to growth are many, but Scott focuses primarily on the necessity of facing one’s fears and repressed qualities to be able to surface conflict and manage change.

A well-developed self in a leader—what I call self-differentiation—is not only critical to effective leadership; it is precisely the leadership characteristic that is most likely to promote the kind of community that preserves the self of its members.
—Edwin Friedman

 

8 Integral Leadership: Opening Space by Leading through the Heart

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Jonathan Reams

While Scott uses practical examples of change management to show why it is so important to do our inner work, the next essay in this section, by Jonathan Reams, provides research findings from integral psychology and neuroscience that can help you recognize, name, and utilize the toolbox of inner resources we all have that can support your efforts to become a more transforming leader. Reams shows how an enhanced understanding of the function of the soul in its psychological meaning, the importance of intuition, and the neuroscience of the heart fosters a quality of consciousness that others can sense in you. It also can help you become open to more expansive options and increased opportunities.

Today’s world calls for a new consciousness from leaders—this is clear enough. However, the contours of this new consciousness are less clear. It is well known that we cannot solve our problems from within the same level of consciousness that created them (as noted by people such as Albert Einstein, Gregory Bateson, and Chris Argyris). But what does this really mean when as leaders we are called to go beyond the cliché and make it a reality? We have been living in the full blossoming of rational thought, and in reaching its limits have created the kinds of crises we see all around us. To lead today requires us to transcend (while including) the rational, mental structure of consciousness and lead from an integral consciousness. From it, we can get a perspective on the hypercomplexity of issues by relating to the heart of them. Indian sage Sri Aurobindo (2000), consciousness researcher Claire Graves (1974), philosopher of science Ervin Laszlo (2007), leadership and consciousness researcher William Torbert (& Associates, 2004), and integral theorist Ken Wilber (1996, 2000), among others, have all contributed to our understanding of integral consciousness. For example, Swiss mystic and transdisciplinary consciousness researcher Jean Gebser (1985) described five structures of consciousness that have emerged over human history: archaic, magic, mythical, mental, and integral.

 

9 Mindful Leadership: Discovering Wisdom beyond Certainty

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Susan Szpakowski

Scott explored why leaders need to be the change and Reams showed us that we have the inner equipment to do so. The four essays that follow provide various takes on how consciously living into your journey can develop advanced leadership capacities. The next essay, by Susan Szpakowski, augments Reams’s work by exploring how we can recognize and harness the impulses of ego that become triggered in situations of uncertainty. Szpakowski shares practical principles and strategies for relaxing ego’s struggle, releasing intelligence and creativity, and creating the conditions for transformation in ourselves and in others. She illustrates how these strategies can enable you to see options more accurately, make better decisions, and lead with more grace.

Everywhere we hear the drumbeat of change. Organizations and communities must become more innovative, resilient, adaptive. As leaders we are increasingly called to reinvent our strategies, companies, even entire social systems, while inspiring others to do the same.

 

10 Leadership as a Spiritual Practice: Vocation and Journey

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Matthew Fox

The practice of cultivating awareness of the observing self that Szpakowski describes is necessary to fully realize the lessons from the next essay. In this piece, Matthew Fox explores the importance of seeing leadership as a sacred vocation and honoring archetypal paths on the leadership journey, each of which furthers comfort with essential elements of the process of transformation. These paths foster normal human journeys of personal development that help us have a positive, hopeful attitude, so important to promoting needed change; the ability to let go as the shifting sands of changing times require us to relinquish even things to which we are profoundly attached; the flexibility and creativity to promote continual innovation; and the capacity to inspire visions of a more just world that can lead to both group and whole-system transformation. Recognizing and naming these paths can normalize the growth needed in transformational times, thus decreasing people’s resistance to change as they also develop essential leadership capacities. Other sections in this volume flesh out these paths. Indeed, the whole of Part One encourages what Fox calls Via Positiva, and the whole of Part Three, Via Transformativa. The essays in Part Two that follow illustrate in more detail Via Negativa and Via Creativa.

 

11 Transmuting Suffering: A Leadership and Advising Perspective

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Arthur Colman and Éliane Ubalijoro

Fox’s idea of Via Negativa is reflected in learning from experiences that require us to let go of things we believe define who we are or that we think are necessary for our happiness. This path helps us develop the capacity to grieve and still function, which is needed if you are to confront nonstop change—or even the horrendous loss, victimization, or scapegoating leaders sometimes face. Having skilled and empathetic confidants and advisors can help us to heal and find the positive learning from whatever we experience, as well as from our own less than noble impulses. This daunting task of facing your own shadow, and the shadow in the world, is the subject of the next essay, by Arthur Colman and Éliane Ubalijoro.

Transformative leadership, especially in the context of collective trauma and suffering, is fraught with difficulty, inevitably blending positive intent with negative power issues. Leaders in these situations need the largest possible perspective to inform their goals and actions. A partnership with a trusted advisor whose ego is less involved and whose vision is therefore more capacious is of inestimable value.

 

12 Shapeshifter Leadership: Responding Creatively to the Challenges of a Complex World

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Carol Burbank

By not mincing words about what often is required of leaders seeking to make a major difference in the world, Ubalijoro and Colman provide a balance to the positive thrust of the essays in Part One. If you have experienced Via Negativa and learned from it, you have confronted what is best and worst in yourself and in the world, and you are neither in denial nor overly fearful that you are incapable of facing whatever comes. Moreover, you know who you are in your wholeness, as you have ventured into your unconscious as well as your conscious mind. This means you do not have to hold onto roles and static ideas limiting who you are, or what you can do or be, thus gaining the flexibility to respond to what is required of you by new challenges. When you accomplish this, you are ready for Via Creativa. The final essay in this section, by Carol Burbank, provides examples of game-changing innovation and describes how, through integrating the qualities of the shapeshifter archetype, you can demonstrate a capacity for creativity and innovation.

 

Setting the Context for Part Three

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Shifting Perspectives on Inner/Outer Connectivity

The very nature of leadership demands the capacity to influence individuals, groups, and organizations to achieve transformational ends. Part Three explores how the thinking described in Part One and ways of being described in Part Two result in transforming how, and how well, we exercise such leadership. Indeed, leadership becomes easier when we change our stance toward those we lead and let go of the idea of the leader as directing the action from above and causing people to act, as if they are without volition.

The transforming vision of the twenty-first century calls us to understand that we are part of the complex adaptive systems that we are trying to transform. Moreover, because we and the world are forever in a state of flux, we can let go of the heroic illusion that we need to exert incredible effort to compel other people and social systems to change. Indeed, the requisite effort may be more like diverting the course of a ball rolling down a hill than struggling to push a huge boulder up it—or even to get the boulder moving at all.

 

Shifting Perspectives on Inner/Outer Connectivity

ePub

Shifting Perspectives on Inner/Outer Connectivity

The very nature of leadership demands the capacity to influence individuals, groups, and organizations to achieve transformational ends. Part Three explores how the thinking described in Part One and ways of being described in Part Two result in transforming how, and how well, we exercise such leadership. Indeed, leadership becomes easier when we change our stance toward those we lead and let go of the idea of the leader as directing the action from above and causing people to act, as if they are without volition.

The transforming vision of the twenty-first century calls us to understand that we are part of the complex adaptive systems that we are trying to transform. Moreover, because we and the world are forever in a state of flux, we can let go of the heroic illusion that we need to exert incredible effort to compel other people and social systems to change. Indeed, the requisite effort may be more like diverting the course of a ball rolling down a hill than struggling to push a huge boulder up it—or even to get the boulder moving at all.

 

13 Depth Entrepreneurship: Creating an Organization Out of Dream Space

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Stephen Aizenstat

The first essay in this section, by Stephen Aizenstat, describes the process he followed in founding and developing Pacifica Graduate Institute, employing both inner intuitive guidance and sound management practices. At Pacifica we now host Pacifica in Depth dialogues with the faculty and staff where we discuss a range of topics, including dreams we believe to be about the school as well as the impact of archetypes we see as being active in the institution. Discussing dreams and archetypes provides a means to enter into a conversation about what the soul of Pacifica wants from us (as well as some exploration of its shadow). Aizenstat’s essay models how you can utilize the fruits of your inner work in creating transformational organizations.

Organizational leadership and dream work seem like contradictory practices. But are they? In practice, I have found that success in entrepreneurial leadership requires the capacity to access intelligence from both the rational and dreaming mind. Imagination, intuition, and the resources of the unconscious bring as much to entrepreneurial achievement as does the skill set of a well-earned MBA. Developing a business model animated by the “capital” of both dream and coin inspires devotion to mission and profit.

 

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