Tag Archives: human services

Transformational Leaders or Paragon Leaders?

Is the “paragon leader” construct what we will need in order to grow voluntary sector capacity and improved organizational performance to the levels it will take to sustain our nation’s quality of life as the future becomes the present?

Transformational leadership is a construct proposed nearly 40 years ago that identified characteristics associated with successful leaders. The transformational leader construct has remained a mainstream issue and a highly popular subject for nearly 4 decades. The original construct has evolved into at least eight major categories of leadership theories, with the “great man” theory being the most frequently used.

While most leadership theories focus on personal leadership dimensions and attributes, far fewer directly consider the organizational environment in which the change is expected to occur, and none currently address factors relating to the purpose of leadership – the change that drives the activity and the behavior. Some of the theories overlap or are parallel.

Leading involves changing, and that always has consequences, some or even many of which are not always positive unless the change process is prudently undertaken after due diligence.

In trying to find the most effective theory and model for change leadership adequate for demanding times, laudatory traits and characteristics have been steadily added. The idealized construct now represents a paragon of exemplary behavior based on fully develop sets of impeccable core values that represent the most humanistic principles ever gathered. As the list of “saintly” attributes that are supposedly required by “real leaders” has grown, it has become a more daunting for mere mortals to achieve and practice but now appear to be saintly qualities successful leaders are said to have or be needed for success.

But is this “paragon leader code of conduct” what we will need in order to grow the capacity and improve organizational performance to the levels it will take to sustain our nation’s quality of life as a future becomes the present?

Next: Transforming Leadership, Advancing to higher levels of motivation

Suggested citation:

Connors, T. D. (2019). Transformational leaders or paragon leaders? In Transformational organizations: NPO crossroads. Retrieved from BelleAire Press, LLC: http://www.npocrossroads.com/management/transformational-leaders-or-paragon-leaders/

© Copyright 2019 BelleAire Press, LLC

Choosing how we E/EAT

Recent discussions in some national media have highlighted the undeniable need by our charitable organizations to significantly improve their effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and transparency (E/EAT).

Some have framed the national dialogue for improved E/EAT as a choice or trade-off by charities between embracing societal values emphasizing more economical allocation and expenditure of public funds and charitable donations, versus compromising (by reduced or inferior human services delivery) more traditional charitable values (ethos) that place a higher value on public and human services missions. Choosing “more business-like” or “commercialism” over “charity,” is seen as dangerous by some sector leaders, threatening humanistic, traditional charitable core values.

Such polarity framing represents a false dilemma.

First, “business-like” as a metaphor for effectiveness and efficiency is contradicted daily in the headlines of our nation’s press. Second, the range of promising new business model options available for nonprofits is steadily growing. In fact, many nonprofits are developing and using new (hybrid) business models, adapted (not adopted) from both for-profit and public enterprises, offering improved E/EAT without abandoning traditional charitable values. Further, such models provide the additional flexibility needed to deal with the complexities of today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environments.

Clearly, E/EAT pressures will continue as “society” asserts primacy for the “economy” core value. In any values conflict between society and organizations such as public charities allowed to operate within its physical or economic borders, society will ultimately prevail.

America’s charities can wait to be forced into various modes of compliance based on external pressures, e.g., regulations or stipulations placed on resources; OR, opt for self-directed, values-driven, internal compliance, e.g., adapting and using new business models improving E/EAT, while retaining essential organizational ethos. Such models will also reinforce another traditional charitable core value: excellence, sustained superior performance directed at public service mission fulfillment. Nonprofits can resolve potential conflict, fulfill their societal social contracts, and retain their essential ethos, by adapting and using those business models and strategies from all sectors that foster their continuing pursuit of excellence.

Media coverage of new emerging NPO business models leading to excellence represents its own significant contribution to improving charitable E/EAT, and our national quality of life.

© Copyright 2015 Tracy D. Connors