loren Eric Swanson: Transformational Leadership: Creating Organizations of Meaning

Monday, February 12, 2007

Transformational Leadership: Creating Organizations of Meaning

Hacker, Stephen, and Tammy Roberts. Transformational Leadership: Creating Organizations of Meaning. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Quality Press, 2004.

Transform, from the Latin word transformare, means to “change the nature, function, or condition of, to convert.”[i] And the concept of transformation can be applied to various entities: relationships, individuals, groups, teams, communities, or political systems. If organizational transformation is sought, it is defined by marked change in the nature or function of the systems and subsystems that comprise the organization. To be more precise, when transformation is viewed from a creation standpoint, not as an unexpected occurrence, organizational transformation takes on the added descriptor of the results created. Distinctly positive results are normally sought. Therefore, the complete definition of organizational transformation becomes the marked change in the nature or function of organizational systems creating discontinuous, step-function improvement in sought-after result areas. (p. 1)

In a statistical sense, standardization is about reducing variation, while improvement is about shifting the mean. (p. 1)

This is important because one cannot declare a transformation without the measurable results to demonstrate the change. A transformation in thinking is not hidden. Transformed thinking produces resulting actions and altered actions create changed results. (p. 2)

Through our leadership readings and experiences in working with organizations to produce transformation, we have discerned that a new kind of leadership is required. At the heart of transformational leadership is a consciousness within the self and the ability to raise consciousness in others. The required skills are both managerial and leadership, not one over the other, and knowing when to call upon a specific skill in a given situation. (p 3)

To begin our study of transformational leadership, we explore three perspectives: the leader as an individual, interpersonal relationships, and the organization as a whole. Consider each perspective a prospect for transformation. The individual leader is at the core of the change, and the change may have to be initiated at the core of the leader. P. 4

The requirements for the organization to be successful in the future may well be quite different from the present requirements. Therefore, an individual transformation often becomes a perquisite for the transformation of the organization. A personal rebirth into a perspective of possibilities, not a step-by-step managerial formula is required. P. 4

Transformation is embarked upon for the single reason of improving results—and doing so drastically. Transformation of the leader and the organization is a tough undertaking. It requires a remaking of individual skill sets and radical change within an organization. P.17

[i] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000)


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