Transformational Leadership

To change the organization, change the self.

That was one of the summary sentiments of Franklin University (Columbus, Ohio) Business Administration Lead Faculty Dr. Timothy Reymann at the May 11, 2010, Change Leadership Symposium.

Co-facilitated by Program Chair Dr. Ross Wirth, this monthly symposium “brings together organization and community leaders working on change initiatives.”

Topics included “Engaging the Grass Roots” (Reymann) and “Understanding States of Change” (Wirth) presented in separate facilitated break-out sessions.

With reference to research and publications by Bernard M. Bass (2006) and Bruce J. Avolio (2002), Reymann provided an overview of transformational leadership.

“Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to the individual follower’s needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization” (Bass 2006, p. 3).

Bass et al. proposed four dimensions of transformational leadership:

  • Individual consideration, the ability to identify and respect the unique dignity and interests of followers
  • Intellectual stimulation, the ability to engage followers in dynamic, transcendent endeavors
  • Inspirational motivation, the ability to live out a true commitment to the empowerment and self-actualization of each follower
  • Idealized influence, an authentic charisma that engenders trust among followers

These insights align well with, and are critical to, the transformative power of the Learn-Do-Teach-Lead model and its practices.

In fact, applied without the self-aware authenticity of a transformational leader, L-D-T-L will suffer the failings of any poorly implemented change initiative: a callous hollowness that invites skepticism and, worse, with repeated false attempts, a culture of cynicism and even contempt.

L-D-T-L activities must come from the heart of a self-aware leader.  From that source, even if imperfectly implemented (as it will be), L-D-T-L generates engagement the same higher levels of performance, satisfaction, and commitment of followers to the group and the organization achieved by Bass’ transformational leader.


Avolio, Bruce J., and B. Bass.  2002.  Developing Potential Across a Full Range of Leadership. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bass, Bernard M., with R. Riggio.  2006.  Transformational Leadership. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


Franklin University (

Franklin University Change Leadership Symposium (

Timothy F. Reymann, Ph.D. (

Ross Wirth, Ph.D. ( (sign up for meeting notices)

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8 Responses to Transformational Leadership

  1. Harry Merritt Johnquest says:

    Dear Erik,
    I love this blog. It makes me happy to reflect. I am “Engaging in Grass Roots” by a Learn-Do-Teach-Lead practice although i don’t claim to be “Understanding States of Change,” but it pleases me to see them unfolding. I experienced this just last night.

    I taught class #2 this Wednesday to 30 innercity kids on seed planting. Only ONE kid brought in their cup of dirt (but we brought in a bag of soil and cups) to plant seeds we began sprouting last week. This ONE kid i made a team leader teaching five kids who then one-by-one showed every kid hands-on how to plant seeds. Each kid had a sunflower to take home to grow. It wouldn’t have happened without volunteers stepping up to Learn-Do-Teach-Lead. Not to mention: three teachers are there every week after week to provide a fertile nurturing environment for growth.

    Quoting further this blog post: “Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual follower’s needs by empowering them.” Yay! That’s what we’re talking about. Transformation.

  2. erikjul says:


    Your thoughtful application of L-D-T-L with the kids is marvelous! Thank you for sharing the story, and thank you for giving yourself with such care to the kids. The benefit is incalculable.

    Just the other day a friend of mine and I were discussing the potential positive impact of introducing L-D-T-L and other success principles to young learners in school as part of the curriculum.

    L-D-T-L helps us to do just what you said, to reflect, to be aware and then to take mindful action based on our awareness. The L-D-T-L structure helps us to think, and if we can think differently, we can act differently.

    Would love to hear more stories from your volunteer efforts, or stories for other areas of your life where you apply L-D-T-L.

    Onward! –Erik

    • Harry Merritt Johnquest says:

      Good to hear a L_D_T_L curriculum is in development. Of course you may use/modify the sprout-plant excercise. It’s simple, just add volunteer helper-leaders and… water. The participation and sharing bring out the leadership qualities. Also, “Critical Thinking” is a separate course of study crucial to good leadership development. In the ’80s in an MBA personnel management course, “Management Development” was then a new aspect beyond ordinary managment training.

      In 1957 my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Tanahka, led each child to plant a lima bean seed and grow it in a tin can. Thank you, Mrs. Tanahka, the lesson took root and is growing still.

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