Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership

Synopsis

This edited volume explores different models, conceptualizations, and measures of leader interpersonal and influence "soft skills" that are so necessary for effective leadership. These include the communication skills, persuasion skills, political savvy, and emotional abilities used by leaders to inspire, motivate, and move followers toward the accomplishment of goals. The book emanates from the two-day-long 21st Kravis-de Roulet leadership conference, which brought together top scholars working in this area. The intent of the conference and this edited volume is to increase understanding of the interpersonal and influence skills, or "soft skills," of the leader, to highlight state-of-the-art research on the topic, and to provide clear, research-based guidelines for the development of leader skills.

Excerpt

More than a decade ago in a small conference room at the University of Maryland, we sat with a group of leadership scholars and thrashed out that recurring and problematic question, “Was Hitler a transforming leader?” Mark Moore, one of our colleagues in the Kellogg Leadership Studies Project, had asked, “Can a person be a transformational leader without charisma and virtue? Can the effects of transformational leadership be achieved without charisma and virtue in a leader?”

“The Hitler Problem,” as we called it back then, was an emblematic question that had routinely arisen in every leadership studies class for the last decade. Whether we spoke of Burns’s conception of large scale change or Bass’s contingency-based approach, Hitler (and those of his ilk) indeed displayed many of the leadership qualities in question. As Dick Couto was to later write, “Bass initially considered transformation to be any fundamental social change without regard to moral values. Transformational leaders, like Hitler, Jim Jones, and David Koresh, may be ‘immoral, brutal, and extremely costly in life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness to [their] victims,’” but they met his definition of transforming change. Burns was less certain, but he did admit to Hitler’s invigoration and realignment of his followers, surely a large-scale effort. It was a thorny question.

As our meeting progressed, Burns and Bass parsed the distinctions, dipping into history, philosophy, and real life. Burns first sketched out Gunnar Myrdal’s discussion of cumulative causation from An American Dilemma, arguing that it can serve as a basis for understanding real, intended social change. To bring the debate down to earth, Bernie . . .

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