Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections -- By: Richard Parrott

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 32:0 (NA 2000)
Article: Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections
Author: Richard Parrott


Transformational Leadership:
Theory and Reflections

Richard Parrott

Richard Parrott (M.Div., Nazarene Theological Seminary; Ph.D., Oregon State University) is Executive Director of The Sandberg Leadership Center at ATS and also Director of the D.Min. program.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your minds…” (Romans 12:2)

Consider excerpts of four conversations:

Your organization is guided by vision and values. I know there are times you make hard decisions. I also know you surprise people by making the tough decisions in the right way. This is what I want to know: How do you recognize a decision of organizational values rather than organizational profit? And, what do you have to do internally to make the decision, especially when it is costly? (Author to Executive Vice-President of State Farm Insurance)

And we couldn’t agree on the subject of my presentation. But then, it came to me as a revelation; the content doesn’t matter. These people just need to connect. They don’t need more information, they need to want more from what they are doing. (Executive Director of the Program on Non-Profit Organizations to the author)

You have to love the process. It is not the paper, but the process that matters. Most of what you learn never goes in the paper, but the process changes the way you think; it gives foundation to ministry. (Faculty members of ATS discussing the doctoral dissertation with the author)

Our love for Jesus must be greater than our love of money or fame or anything else. (Author’s pastor in a recent sermon)

Each statement is an expression of the “new leadership paradigm” (Bryman 1992). Transformational leadership is concerned with vision, values, ethics, and relationships. It is a process of leadership in which the motives, needs, and humanity of followers is given full consideration. At the heart of the process is the visionary leader.

Transformational leadership is making an impact on the church. In August, 1999, Noel Tichy, theorist and teacher of transformational leadership (Tichy and DeVanna 1990; Tichy 1997), spoke to the Willow Creek gathering of church leaders, the largest annual conference on Leadership in the evangelical world. Ten years earlier, Lyle Schaller introduced the term to church leadership, “The transformational leader is driven by a vision for a new tomorrow, wins supporters and followers for that vision, and transforms the congregation” (Anderson 1990, 188). Of particular interest to the community of Ashland Theological Seminary is the incorporation of the term in the mission stateme...

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