Transformational Leaders or Paragon Leaders?

PEP: An inclusive model for change management that focuses on the realities and variables of Purpose and Environment, in addition to Person

If…the primary purpose and goal (read: outcome) of effective leadership is change(s) that improves the ability of the organization to fulfill its mission, then perhaps a more useful understanding and definition of change leadership can be found by examining the dynamics and dimensions of the change itself, including the environment/situation in which it will take place.

Is this one of the reasons we find it so challenging to “define leadership”?
Will focusing on change as the purpose and catalyst for leadership, help us better understand the process and what is needed in attributes and competencies by those trying to bring it about?

Does it help our perspective if we base our operational definition of Leadership more on the change than the person—more on the desired outcome than the process? For example, what if we operationally define “Leadership” – including its attributes, characteristics, competencies and methods – as depending upon and reflecting the nature and extent of the differences needed, desired, or demanded (Purpose of the Change) – within or by the organization that has the mission, purpose and resources (Environment), the proposed changes are intended to affect.

By defining effective leadership as enhanced mission and purpose fulfillment, a framework for a new change leadership model emerges from the current plethora of saintly traits. This new model for change leadership focuses on the realities and variables of: Purpose and Environment, in addition to Person (PEP). This definition suggests that the variable mix of actions and traits needed by successful leaders depends not only on Personal attributes and behaviors, but also on two other major factors, including: Change (dimensions and complexities needed to advance the organization toward mission fulfillment) and the Environment/Situation (the organizational setting, environment and situation).

If leadership is the “right stuff,” then perhaps defining “right” and “stuff” would help answer such relevant questions as:
• What needs to be different, and how do we know?
• What reasons are presenting themselves that persuade us to change?
• What changes/differences are needed, and in what results and outcomes desired by this organization?
• What are the anticipated benefits to be gained by changing?
• What are the consequences if we don’t change?
• How will maintaining the status quo affect our ability to fulfill our mission, or to achieve the results and outcomes expected by our stakeholders?
• If we attempt to change, but are not successful, what are the consequences?

Is defining leadership so elusive because the constellation of personal characteristics, management tools, and behaviors needed for success in any change initiative will be different in every instance depending on the organization and its needs at the time?
Is the (personal) “Leadership” list of attributes growing so lengthy because we have added and lumped helpful knowledge, skills and personal abilities into what is becoming a one-size-fits-all construct, without more clearly outlining which constellations of attributes and competencies are best suited for various situations and/or types of organizational changes?

Next: Shifting perspective from “person” to “purpose” and “environment”

Suggested citation:

Connors, T. D. (2019). Transformational leaders or paragon leaders? In Transformational organizations: NPO crossroads. Retrieved from BelleAire Press, LLC:

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