Transformative Leadership

Leadership forms an essential prerequisite for organisational and societal development. However, conventional modes of leadership have proven adverse to the requirements for deep and path-deviant sustainability transformations: Lacking an ethical compass, drawing on control instruments and hierarchy, as well as acting out of step with those supposed to follow, such leadership is prone to run into lock-in situations.

While power positions and charismatic personality remain important factors, transformative leadership focuses on the specific qualities leaders need if striving to motivate and enable transformative organisational and/or societal change. It pursues a synergistic approach that emphasizes accountability, co-creation and feedbacks. This involves the ability to co-develop shared visions with explicit normativity (i.e. sustainability). It also implies to articulate discourses that inspire and motivate change, to draw on system-thinking for understanding challenges and dynamics, and to translate between wider environments and those immediately concerned. Transformative leadership is highly collaborative and thus ideally exercised simultaneously by multiple agents in diverse positions (Ardoin et al., 2015; Caldwell et al., 2012; Senge, 2008). Consequently it also forms an important component of transformative capacity (Wolfram, 2016).

Therefore, supporting its fellows in becoming transformative leaders themselves also represents an essential aspiration of the Dresden Leibniz Graduate School. The DLGS program conveys current scientific knowledge on and practical skills for developing transformative leadership. This includes cooperation with the Collective Leadership Institute for a dedicated course. It equally provides opportunities to exercise such leadership, ultimately striving to enable graduates to take a transformative role in whatever professional contexts they will continue their career.

Further readings on the topic:

  • Ardoin, N.M., Gould, R.K., Kelsey, E., Fielding-Singh, P., 2015. Collaborative and Transformational Leadership in the Environmental Realm. J. Environ. Policy Plan. 17, 360–380.
  • Caldwell, C., Dixon, R.D., Floyd, L.A., Chaudoin, J., Post, J., Cheokas, G., 2012. Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence. J. Bus. Ethics 109, 175–187.
  • Senge, P. (Ed.), 2008. Presence: exploring profound change in people, organizations, and society, Nachdr. ed. Currency Doubleday [u.a.], New York, NY.
  • Wolfram, M., 2016. Conceptualizing urban transformative capacity: A framework for research and policy. Curr. Res. Cities 51, 121–130.