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What kind of leader are you?

Clergy often point to servant leadership as the preferred approach to leadership. As followers of Jesus, leading with a servant’s heart is required for the job. But given the challenges that many congregations face today, clergy should also consider what it means to be transformational leaders.

According to Peter Northouse, transformational leadership is a “process that changes and transforms people.” This process is holistic in that it addresses our long-term goals and organizational standards as well as our emotions and personal values. 

Four characteristics are involved in the practice of transformational leadership: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration.

Idealized influence has to do with how a leader understands the group’s emotions and sets a personal example, which earns respect and garners trust. Inspirational motivation involves setting lofty expectations that motivate the team; it’s tempting to lower expectations to win support, but transformational leaders aim high. Intellectual stimulation promotes innovation and creativity. Leaders must be willing to try new approaches and encourage the group to do the same. Finally, through individualized consideration, a leader takes the time to create a supportive climate in which people know that their individual needs are heard.

Transformational leaders give space for others to participate, and they support the group by encouraging hearts and minds through rituals of celebration. To become transformational leaders, we start by setting an example of the vision we hope to achieve — but we must first be transformed by the Spirit of Christ. What will you do today to make room for transformation in the organization you serve?


Dying organizations must transform in order to survive and flourish

In order to pursue its core mission, an organization may have to craft its own path, says the CEO and president of The Conference of Churches in Connecticut.

Q&A with Shelley Best

Finding God’s transformation and liberation in a desolate season

God is with us in our complexity, our complicity, our fragility and our belovedness, writes the director of the Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

By Alaina Kleinbeck

Pilgrimage as a path to personal and communal transformation

Going on a “pilgrimage of pain and hope” in your own city is a spiritual discipline with the power to transform your relationship with a place and its people, writes a pilgrimage participant and leader.

By M. Keith Daniel

How do we transform the communities in which we live?

The dean of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology talks about conflict transformation and how people can learn to live with conflict.

Q&A with Jan Love

Before you go…

It’s worth reflecting on how God is transforming our lives. That transformation is what guides our vision of transformational leadership in our context. A leader who is not changing and growing cannot lead teams and congregations to change and grow.

What risks are you willing to take this year that you were less willing to take last year? In what ways are you better able to practice forgiveness and grace today? Do you sense that you are becoming more empathetic or attuned to matters of equity? As we are being transformed, we begin to see the vision of how God wants to use our lives to be agents of transformation in the world.

Be encouraged in the work and, until next week, keep leading!

You can always reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu.

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

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