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Transformative Leadership: Challenges for Organizational Change and Professional Development for Leaders

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Transformative Leadership: Challenges for Organizational Change and Professional Development for Leaders


James MacGregor Burns, a well-known leadership expert originally introduced the concept of transformational leadership. According to Burns (1978), if transformational leadership is instituted properly you will see a change in both the leader and the followers, both moving beyond the status quo fostering greater moral standards. Transformational leaders will allow their vision to empower followers within an organization to have a shift in the way they view change and identify common goals. In short, researcher Bernard Bass (1985) explains that transformational leadership is simply what type of impact the leader has on the followers. Do they have a sense of trust, respect and admiration for the leader? Hence, this presents the question what are the challenges for an organization and the professional development of a transformational leader. Are leaders willing to put it all out there on the line for the greater good of the organization and creating learning opportunities for stakeholders. Are the current leaders ready to foster this change? It is noted by Grogan, M., Donaldson, J., & Simmons, J., (1997) that leaders now need a plethora of skills to guide the change; policy formation and implementation, knowledge of instruction and curriculum issues, skills in nurturing collaboration and teamwork and a cultured understanding of data collection and investigation. "Our current leadership preparation programs pay little, if any attention to the necessity of preparing educational leaders to engage in social justice or equity work" (Brown, K. M. 2006b, p. 701). With that being stated what is the implication for current leaders who were more so trained to be transactional leaders rather than transformational leaders? Current leaders will need to identify challenges the may occur within the organization as the leader makes the shift of becoming a transformational leader; as well as foster their own development in preparing themselves to make the change.

Challenges to Becoming a Transformational Leader

The goal of transformative leadership is to create a mindset change within the organization, change the followers from inside to out. A change of mind and heart that aligns the behavior with beliefs; hence, these changes must be permanent, self-perpetuating, and momentum building. With transformational leadership comes several challenges and/or obstacles: attitudes toward change; inter group conflict; building a coalition of people; identifying the common problem, high levels of fear, anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty. "Neuroscience research has demonstrated that our brain's primary function is to ensure survival; any change in what has been learned and repeatedly acted upon, therefore, is perceived, most often subconsciously, as a survival threat" (Larson, J., 2009, p.9). The overall challenge to change would be resistance - a level of ambiguity. I concur with Larson, J. (2009) that leading schools through these challenges and other transitions requires effective leadership -- leadership that is truly transformational.

Current leaders can only make the change once they understand the purpose of being a transformative leader. In an ever-changing world, leaders need to be multiple forces, calm and optimism, in one arena, vision and collaboration in another, as explained by Larson, J. (2009). He furthers clarifies that leaders are now being required to make the most of the current cultural transformations, by inspiring all stakeholders within the organization to work together toward common goals, while helping everyone feel safe in understanding that this new way is, most definitely, the best way. "Needless to say, this is challenging work, especially in school communities that have been humming along doing business pretty much as usual for decades" (Larson, J., 2009, p.1). It is now to be said that transformational leadership, if implemented properly can provide an active approach to leading today's organizations, such as schools in a multifaceted universal community. The argument is made by Grogan, M., Donaldson, J., & Simmons, J., (1997) that if leaders are attentive to all stakeholders collect data that is pertinent to the organization; thus, they will be able to work together within the organization and stimulate change that will result in positive outcome. How can a current leader manage the



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