Exploring Transformative Leadership: Part Four of the TCI Blog Series

by Debra Bragg / May 21, 2014

Leaders who engage in transformative change come from many backgrounds and represent many perspectives. Top-down leadership associated with formal administrative roles is important to transformative change, but so is bottom-up leadership. In the context of transformative change, leadership is less about formal structure than persistent persuasion. Ultimately, leadership to scale innovation is focused on ideas, actions, and supports so that individuals can generate new understandings of, enthusiasm for, and commitment to meaningful change.

Scholars who write about transformative leadership[1] describe it as an approach that positions leaders as agents of change to all learners’ aspirations to access education, to participate fully and successfully in learning, and to achieve their desired outcomes. Transformative leaders are advocates for equitable outcomes for underserved students, including students who have not had access to higher education in the past, who have faced challenges paying for a college education, or who have faced discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, or sexual orientation. Transformative leaders assume responsibility and provide guidance for the dual goals of enhancing equity and improving student outcomes.  They ensure organizational support, including human and fiscal resources, incentivize and sustain innovators. Participatory and democratic processes are needed to address complexity and bring about transformative change.

What are your thoughts on transformative leadership?  Do these ideas resonate with you and your leadership style?  We would like to hear from you.  Please share your transformative leadership story with us.

This is the fourth post in a series about the Transformative Change Initiative (TCI) and is based on the 2014 TCI booklet. This post explores the first guiding principle in the TCI Framework.

Debra Bragg, OCCRL director and endowed professor at Illinois, researches the transition to college by youth and adults, especially student populations that have not attended college historically.

[1] Shields, C. M. (2010). Transformative leadership: Working for equity in diverse contexts. Education Administration Quarterly, 46, 558-589. doi:10.1177/0013161X10375609