Deconstructing ‘Transformational’ in Christian Transformational Leadership -- By: Thomas O. Scarborough

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 11:1 (Mar 2011)
Article: Deconstructing ‘Transformational’ in Christian Transformational Leadership
Author: Thomas O. Scarborough


Deconstructing ‘Transformational’ in Christian Transformational Leadership

Thomas O. Scarborough1

Abstract

Christian Transformational Leadership is a major Christian leadership theory. This article, on the basis of a definition of Christian transformational leadership, applies a semantic (or deconstructionist) critique to three core features of the theory, namely influence, persuasiveness, and the ability to strategize. It does so by seeking to identify conflict or difference which attaches to these terms in twenty-two Christian transformational leadership texts. It reveals that the theory may make extraordinary demands on the leader, and exact a heavy emotional toll.

1. Introduction

Christian transformational leadership is a major Christian leadership theory, whereby the Christian leader, most simply, seeks to influence (or transform) followers to achieve shared goals. In an earlier article, the following concise definition of Christian transformational leadership was proposed:

Christian Transformational Leadership is leadership which specifically declares a Biblical or Christian foundation, or is

specifically directed to the Church. It holds that a leader will be influential (or transformational) to achieve shared goals, through his or her vision, character, persuasiveness, and ability to strategize (Scarborough 2011:15).2

In addition, I referred inter alia to the possibility of a semantic critique of Christian transformational leadership, on the basis of such a definition. With this in mind, this study seeks to apply a semantic (specifically, a deconstructionist) critique to Christian transformational leadership.

Three features of Christian transformational leadership seem to present a particularly fruitful opportunity for such critique. These appear in the above definition as (a) influence, (b) persuasiveness, and (c) the ability to strategize. According to Christian transformational leadership theory, a leader brings his or her influence to bear on a situation, inter alia through persuasiveness and the ability to strategize. In other words, the ability to influence others is contingent on the three abovementioned characteristics in the leader.

Two qualifications are necessary. Firstly, the purpose of this article is a modest one, namely, to observe and record several difficulties attributed to the notion of influence and general aspects of influence in Christian transformational leadership. It is not the purpose of this article to provide biblical or theological in...

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