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Transformational Servant Leadership as a Model for Change and Innovation

LDRS 612 Final Assignment

Chett Fitchett

on 7 November 2013

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Transcript of Transformational Servant Leadership as a Model for Change and Innovation

The Core Questions
In our effort to make disciples do we defend idealism?
Transformational Servant Leadership as a
Model for Change &Innovation

As applied to Christian disciple-making
in the post-secondary context

"The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons : do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser , freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? (Greenleaf, 1977/2002, p. 27)
A person should be understood and distinguished as different than an individual. An individual is not a servant for they are self-focused (Blanchard & Hodges, 2003).
An individual is not prepared for change. Change requires communities and "only persons" make communities (Houston, 2007, pg. 31). To be a person, to be in community, is to "enter actually the world of the other, which may require much patience, empathy, congruence, and even courage, as well as truthfulness and wisdom" (Houston, 2007, pg. 150).
In seeking to develop disciples that are persons, are we building communities of change?
Do we have time to do what matters? Are we willing to act on those things we know to be important when we stop and reflect?
We believe that health is not only the result of knowing what matters most, but also having the time and resources to do those things.

The transformational servant leader that is leading through change is healthiest when they have time for reflection. Block (2003) states: "If acting on what matters...calls us to go deeper into ourselves and become more reflective towards what we most care about. This includes giving ourselves time and space to think independently and to value the inward journey...The fear is that if we took the time for questioning, for thought, for introspection, we might not have what it takes to act or do...If we do not have time to do something, it is a sign that it does not matter” (pp. 75-79).
Wisdom has the courage to make the choice its knows it must even if everything around it seems to disagree. Block (2002) states: “Our institutions, and even wider culture, operate on the belief that all that counts, all that is real, is what is tangible, touchable, measurable, and “productive”” (pg. 141). Therefore, we must have wisdom if we are going to make choices that matter. Furthermore, Block (2002) claims: “Colleges today are in the business of building resumes, not wisdom” (pg. 142). Wisdom is the result of asking Why? before asking How? Wisdom is knowing how to live as the social architect (Block, 2002).
Student Ministries at Trinity Western University
I am 1 of 4 staff members within the Student Ministries department at Trinity Western University. "The mission of Student Ministries is to develop spiritually maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, who are fully devoted to God, who cultivate and model Christ-like character, and who selflessly love and influence others" (http://www.twu.ca/life/ministries/). As a staff member I am primarily responsible for mentoring and discipling student leaders. Our business is student development.

In this work we will first assess the performance level of Student Ministries using a transformational servant-leadership model. After we have done so we will then use Roger Duncan's (2012) book "Change Friendly Leadership" to outline how Student Ministries might continue to change and innovate so as to improve their performance as disciple makers.
The present assessment is based on the ability of Student Ministries to utilize a transformational servant leadership model of change and innovation.
The transformational servant leadership model we use centers primarily on Robert Greenleaf's (1977/2002) definition of a servant leader. We then use that definition to highlight five growth areas of particular importance (personhood, health, wisdom, freedom, autonomy, and servanthood).

These five growth are then fleshed out into questions. Peter Block's (2003) work "The Answer to How is Yes" is drawn upon in this process and in particular the three qualities he identifies: idealism, intimacy, and depth. We believe that positive responses to these five questions result in a transformational impact. Using this assessment we will identify areas of weaknesses, where Student Ministries is not applying a transformation servant leadership model to disciple making.
The transformational servant leader model
As a post secondary institution are we willing to teach wisdom: having the courage to answer questions of purpose (artist) while still attending to practical elements (economist & engineer)?
The pressure to perform is great for leaders, especially during times of change. Wheatley and Frieze (2010) make the point that people often want the hero over the host. The hero knows just what to do. The hero is "safe". However, the hero also gives the illusion of control. In the workplace and in relationships we are limited in our ability to control (Wheatley & Frieze, 2010). Block (2002) states, "As long as we wish for safety, we will have difficulty pursuing what matters...Endlessly seeking more tools, more skills, more methodology deflects us from accepting our humanity, our limitations, the fact that the questions that trouble us are inherent in being human and have no real answers” (pp. 46-48). The risk that leads to freedom is to embrace the roll of host, where we stop pretending and engage honestly in our humanity.
Are we taking the risk to be host so that our honesty will lead students in the freedom of our limited humanity (realistic expectations) rather than the ensnaring illusion of control?
Autonomy is not independent decision making. Autonomy is confident decision making based on intimate relationships. Just as we have great linguistic autonomy within the boundaries of grammar (Schwartz, 2000), so to do we have our fullest autonomy within intimate relationships. Block (2002) states that intimacy "is immersion into the world of feelings, connection with the senses, and vulnerability—all of which, not incidentally, are considered liabilities in our institutions” (pg. 65). In an increasingly technological age leaders must work hard to create intimate connections as they go through change and see to innovate.
Do we promote intimacy over isolation both in the workplace and in our interactions with students?
Transformational Servant Leadership
In a culture that argues for the survival of the fittest the choice to serve is seen as idealistic. Servanthood is seen as something good, but not as a method of leadership. we are greedy pragmatists. Block (2002) states: “What is lost in a materialistic and pragmatic culture is our idealism. Idealism is a state of innocence that has the potential to bring together our larger purpose with our day-to-day doing…Idealism is the pursuit of the way we think things should be” (pg. 53). Servanthood is the way things should be and it requires a steadfast idealism.
In our effort to make disciples do we defend idealism?
Do we promote intimacy over isolation both in the workplace and in our interactions with students?
Are we taking the risk to be hosts so that our honesty will lead students in the freedom of our limited humanity (realistic expectations) rather than the ensnaring illusion of control?
As a post secondary institution are we willing to teach wisdom: having the courage to answer questions of purpose (artist) while still attending to practical elements (economist & engineer)?
Do we have time to do what matters? Are we willing to act on those things we know to be important when we stop and reflect?
In seeking to develop disciples that are persons, are we building communities of change?
Student Ministries does a good job of developing community both within the staff and within the student body. Community is highly emphasized in the disciple making process.
Since our students are always changing and having new experiences we know that being able listen and respond with empathy is crucial to student development. Unfortunately, Student Ministries does place too much importance on developing a static curriculum. A discipleship curriculum offers efficiency and pragmatism, but is ineffective in responding to the important changing needs of students.
As educators there is the temptation to offer more instruction that discussion. We often believe that disciple making is about rightly instructing students. While we cannot discredit the importance of instruction we must ensure that discussion is prioritized. In this we encourage wisdom as we allow questions of purpose to grow along side pragmatism learning.
As leaders and disciple makers it is our tendency to want to share the positive side of things and the benefits. Rarely do we share the questions that remain, the personal doubts, and struggles that afflict us. Student Ministries could be more vulnerable with the students they lead. Often we are not vulnerable enough.
The advancements in technology bring with it many advantages and challenges. While we cannot resist such development we must also protect intimacy in relationships. Student Ministries needs to discern its use of technology. As well, Student Ministries needs to ensure that real engagement with students is taking place, as opposed to virtual encounters (text, email, ect.)
Student Ministries does a good job of encouraging idealism in students. The idealism is rooted in a confidence in Jesus Christ.
Statement of Assessment
Today Student Ministries has a good understanding of what is most important: Student Ministries continues to invest in the primary goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ. As well, Student Ministries understands that disciple making is highly relational. Although Student Ministries invests heavily in relationships the framing questions revealed that the relational core of disciple making is threatened in two key ways: 1) the efficiency and connectivity of social technology threatens deep and vulnerable relationships with self and others. 2) the limited window of influence (1 yr) that Student Ministries has with student leaders encourages a desire to be increasingly efficient and programmatic threatening the ability of the discipleship community to adapt and respond to personalized needs.

We believe that addressing these two threats is key to developing a transformational servant leader model of change and innovation in Student Ministries. Block (2002) states, “The only time the world looks like it is under control is when we look down at those below us. There is a vertical distortion looking down, much like watching the earth from an airplane. The earth looks spacious, peaceful, and very neat. Right up to the moment you land (pg. 187). Social technology and programmatic curriculum gives the illusion of control, but fails to consider human elements. Community is the answer and it requires real listening, empathy, and authentic leadership (Wheatley, 2011). In order to make disciples Student Ministries must be skilled conveners (Wheatley, 2010), cultivate the mind, heart, and spirit through reflection (Fulton, 2010), and be willing to constantly reinvent themselves and their program (Feser, 2012). Using transformational servant leadership Student Ministries will be equipped as a high performing organization that offers a discipleship experience that students own because they were included on the front end (Rogers, 2008).
Potential Path
Duncan's 8 Steps
1. Validate the Journey
We chose the most relevant parts of Duncan's (2012) 8 steps to change because Student Ministries has the right intention but needs improvement in performance. Duncan (2012) states: "Change-Friendly leaders—those who transform good intentions into great performance” (pg. 255).
In order to prioritize community, listening, and empathy over curriculum We propose that Student Ministries staff limit the time spent in their office. While some work requires a private and quiet space we will encourage staff members to use laptop computers in public locations. Offices are often intimidating to students. Public spaces are neutral and they also increase the chance of random conversations. Laptops will be provide for staff members.
Furthermore, staff members will be encouraged to budget time into their schedules for reflection. A weekly evaluation will be done of student needs during this reflection.
Incentives will be provided for those that regularly meet with students in person vs. virtually. As well, incentives will be provided for those that show adaptability in their curriculumm around student needs.
Students and student relationships are key to Student Ministries. We could say that student relationship are their "sacred essential" (Davis, 2012). Therefore, the greatest priority, the greatest amount of time, should be given to relationship building. This requires time, community, depth, and intimacy.

When answering this question we will appeal to the inherent value of community building and disciple making. One of five principles for innovation that Kotter (2013) shares is: "Head and heart, not just head” (pg. 7), which points to the fact that people want to make a difference. Feser (2012) affirms this when he says that humans want to “contribute to something that matters” (pg. 141). The answer to Why? We have a chance to change the world by making disciples of Jesus Christ.
What If?
If Student Ministries fails to change there will be three primary consequences:
1) The institution as a whole we lose its unique quality as a university that has the mission of disciple making.
2) Student Ministries will no longer have a transformation impact on students and ultimately in the marketplaces that students will work within.
3)Students will not be transformed and empowered.
2. Scan for Speed Bumps
Wheatley (2007) boldly states: “it is only through conversation that human beings discover what they care about.” Conversations are powerful tools for helping communities understand each other. This understanding involves listening and empathy and helps create communities of change.
Duncan (2012) endorses 1 on 1 conversations and focus groups as a primary means of scanning for speed bumps. 1 on 1 conversations help leaders to understand the personal needs of others. While focus groups reveals a variety of perspectives and opinions. Duncan (2012) claims: “Only when you understand people’s concerns can you work to find common ground. Unless and until you make it safe to disagree, you won’t have a chance of engaging people’s heads, hearts, and hopes” (pg. 205).
Initiating 1 on 1 conversations and developing a focus group is one of the first tasks Student Ministries should take. In the "Change Management Simulation" (Harvard, 2010) 1 on 1 conversation proved instrumental. Therefore, conversations with each other, students, faculty, and outside voices is essential to servant-oriented change.
1 on 1 Conversations and Focus Group Discussions
3. Chart the Course
Duncan (2012) states: “to make the most of the change, you’d also want your people to “catch the vision” of its purpose” (pg. 210). Duncan provides 6 levers and suggests that leaders use at least 4. We have chosen the 4 most relevant levers for the situation.
Link to Passions
Duncan (2012) states: “Appealing to people’s intrinsic values—their passions—is an excellent way to reinforce personal accountability" (pg. 217). Without a doubt the Student Ministries staff have a passion for students and disciple making. Linking this passion to the changes taking place is crucial. Have conversations to make this connection are an essential task.
Shrink the Know/Do Gap
It has already been made clear that Student Ministries knows what is most important and recognizes those factors that threaten disciple making. However, doing what is needed is another challenge. The appeal of technology is strong. For example: The efficiency and ease of texting is high. Although Student Ministries knows that an in-person conversation would have a greater relational impact actually arranging an in-person meeting is a step not always taken. The know-do gap may be reduced through small incentives and simple acknowledgments at staff meetings.
Enlist Social Support
Following the advice of Duncan (2012) I would “team each recipient with a learning partner” (pg. 218). A primary reason for doing so is that it would encourage the sharing of stories between parties. Block (2002) states: “Anecdotes, personal stories, reminiscences like biblical parables, are the medium through which faith is restored” (pg. 43). Partners sharing stories together would be a great encouragement to the change project.
Make It Easy
Making it easy means providing the training and tools to implement the change (Duncan, 2012). The training I would suggest is for staff members to be members of staff discipleship groups. The experience of being in a discipleship group will not only provide learning but also a personalized understanding of the needs. The primary tool needed would be laptop computers, which would give staff the opportunity to do work in public locations.
4. Build a Coalition
Since other departments may not apply or endorse the same changes Student Ministries is implementing they will need a strong coalition to stay the course. Duncan (2012) suggests a cascading sponsorship: “Cascading sponsorship develops and maintains an infrastructure of people who continue to reinforce the integrity of the change” (pg. 231). For Student Ministries it will be important to have the full support of the director. While the directors support is important the support of key sponsors is also crucial. Drayton (2013) suggests finding your changemakers. In both cases it is necessary for a guiding coalition to be built and maintained (Kotter, 2013).
Cascading Sponsorship
5. Ford the Streams
6. Stay on the Message
7. Mind the Gap
A Culture Takes Time
It has already been made clear that the Student Ministries department has the right desires but lacks the proper implementation. Part of the problem is that work cultures take time to change. Duncan (2012) states: “Cultures evolve. Don’t expect to change yours overnight” (pg. 240). Schein (2012) affirms this truth when he explains that "culture is a product of years of learning and experience.” Duncan (2012) suggests that a good step towards a high performance is agreeing upon values. I would suggest that these values need to reflect the goals of the change. Therefore, valuing community, open conversation, listening, and empathy would be important. Also important is the insight of Seelig (2012) who connects attitude and culture. Seelig (2012) believes that the attitude must be that of quilt makers not puzzle builders. In our culture of disciple making I would suggest the same is true, because the intricacies of people are much more like a quilt than a puzzle.
When it comes to staying on the message one cannot help but agree with Duncan (2012) when he says, “Messages matter. Repetition matters. Clarity matters” (pg. 260). That being said, the greater need for Student Ministries is for the leadership and team to walk the talk. The staff will buy in as they see others applying what is being preached. The staff need to see examples of other staff members spending less time in the office and more time visiting with students. Duncan (2012) states:
“You must model the new behaviors at every opportunity. You must walk the talk” (pg. 259). Colleen Barrett (2008) of Southwest Airlines is a great example of someone who walks the talk and by doing so she helped to transform her organization into a high performance servant leader model. Student Ministries needs leadership to do the same for them.
Walk the Talk
The Giving Gap
Duncan (2012) asks, “What’s the gap between the good intentions we express and the great performance we seek?” (pg. 268). While we cannot know with certainty what gaps would exist as the Student Ministries team implemented these changes in actuality I predict that one significant gap would be the “giving gap.” Adam (2013) makes an important distinction between work cultures that are gives and takers. If the Student Ministries team continues to make a curriculum that focus of attention it is likely that a taker culture will result. Curriculums equal competition. However, if the primary is the respond to the needs of growing disciples through listening, community, and empathy than it is likely that a giver culture will emerge. The giving gap is a potential hurdle that Student Ministries will need to be aware of as they change.
Transformational Servant Leadership as a Model for Change and Innovation
Duncan (2012) provides a strong framework for change and innovation, which Greenleaf (1977/2002) and Block (2002) give form and flesh to by providing a transformational servant leadership foundation. We believe that Student Ministries has the potential to become a high performing organization if they apply this framework and foundation. In particular we assert that Student Ministries will need to remain focused on the primary goal of their department: discipleship through relationship. Relationships require empathy, listening, and community and these needs will need to be responded to with creativity. As a result the threats of virtual interaction (email, texting), too much office time, and curriculum building will be addressed.
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