The best leaders are transformative leaders. Transformative leaders are not only committed to transformation in their own lives but also in bringing transformation to the teams or organizations they lead. Just as individuals need transformation, so do teams and organizations on an ongoing basis. Healthy teams and organizations are led by leaders who are committed to ongoing organizational transformation.

In order to bring needed transformation, leaders must have the ability to realistically "look beneath the hood" of their ministry in order to see what is really there. Especially in the Christian world, we are very good at seeing the good and glossing over the problematic. The best leaders are deeply realistic and are able to evaluate both.

Having evaluated what is really there there are four things good leaders never do.

First they don't criticize the past. This is a temptation for new leaders who can find it easy to criticize those who went before them. It is a very bad idea. We honor the past even as we build for the future. It was those who built the ministry to where it is that makes it possible for us to now move it forward. Honor the past rather than criticizing it.

Second, they don't blow up the organization to rebuild it. That is rarely a good option as it disenfranchises all those who are presently in it. We may need to make changes but staged change is far better than abrupt change.

Third, they don't overwhelm people with a lot of changes. Most people are change adverse. Staging change is hard enough for constituents. Overwhelming people with huge change all at once is threatening. Fixing everything at once is just a bad idea and sends a negative message.

Finally, good leaders don't ignore the issues. To do nothing is not a sign of a transformational leader.

Rather than the above, a wise leader prioritizes the issues that they see need to be addressed and start a dialogue with stakeholders in order to build support for the needed change. This is all about running good process and helping people anticipate what is coming and why. Hopefully a guiding coalition has been built of those who are ready to support the necessary changes.

In making changes, good leaders always honor the people involved. We honor them by engaging them, helping them understand, listening carefully, being flexible where we can be and doing everything to make people comfortable in the midst of change.

Transformational leaders have a certain profile. They are obviously realistic. They are also non-defensive when there is push back or when others around them push into issues that might irritate a leader. Defensive leaders shut down dialogue while non-defensive leaders invite it. This is a critical skill whenever change is necessary as well as a sign of good emotional intelligence. The focus in any change is the good of the organization as a whole while honoring people in in the process. And it is a process, rather than an event. Change events frustrate people while running proper process engages people.

If the forging of a leader is that of paying attention to the inner life of that leader, so the forging of healthy teams and organizations is that of paying attention to the inner dynamics that make for healthy, transformational organizational cultures.

All of T.J. Addington's books are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 discount on orders of ten or more.

  • Dec 02, 2014
  • Category: News
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