Essay Biblical Abraham Transformational leader
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Biblical Abraham. Transformational leader
The internet has been critical to the emergence of what can now be termed as a global economy. As such the manner with which business operations are carried out has changed significantly with the onset of the internet as well as innovative technological advances. Organizations that look forward to a prosperous going concern have to be aware that there is the need for these organizations to embrace leaders with exceptional leadership skills (Avolio and Yammarino, 2013, p. 37).
This means that exceptional leaders need more than just experience and academic credentials. Charisma and the capability of inspiring loyal followers who will not find it challenging to relegate their personal interests for the benefit of an organization. What an organization seeking success needs is a transformational leader. This essay seeks to discuss the Biblical Abraham who was indeed a transformational leader and more so the progenitor of religious denominations, Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web). This essay also aims at critically assessing the character traits that Abraham had and how they can be applied by others desiring to be transformational leaders.
Some character traits desirable for a transformational leader include confidence, charisma, vision, humility, courage, justice, willing to stand out from the crowd as well as sacrificing personal needs for the betterment of others and a genuine concern for others around him or her (Gong, Huang, and Farh, 2009, p. 770).
2.0 Abraham, the transformational leader
Instituting change in any organization is a challenge to many leaders. As internet technology and technological advances continue to be in the forefront with regard to the growth of the global economy (House, 1996, p. 332). Organizations in most cases find transformation challenging as it is clearly the norm that people always tend to resist change. As such organizations which seek to prosper need the guidance of special leaders, that is, charismatic leaders who not only subordinate personal interests for the betterment of an organization but also inspire other members in an organization to adhere to their vision for a prosperous organization (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web). If organizations are to adapt with the advancement of the information age then they have to acquire or mentor transformational leaders.
Transformational leadership can be defined as a leadership that not only motivates followers but also ignores personal interests for the greater good of an organization towards ensuring significant accomplishments. Transformational leadership emphasizes on articulating vision to followers so as to motivate followers towards major organizational changes (Clemens and Mayer, 1999, p. 57). Transformational leaders have the ability to profoundly inspire other organizational members’ beliefs with respect to improving an organization’s prosperity (Gumusluoglu and Ilsev, 2009, p. 464). Transformational leaders guide followers towards achieving set organizational goals. Other individuals who have proven to be transformational leaders include Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates and Dell Computer Corporation’s Michael Dell (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web).
Understanding which qualities in a man or woman make him or her a transformational leader is critical in aiding leaders or managers looking to improve on their effectiveness. It is important to point out that there are some individuals who had the opportunity to become transformational leaders but lost this after committing serious mistakes which could have been avoided. Bill Clinton could have become a key transformational leader but some mistakes that he committed were too serious to allow him to reach the pinnacle of his career as a leader (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web).
3.0 Transformational Leadership
The theory on transformational leadership was first postulated by Weber in 1978 on his theory on charisma which he used a few historical cases more importantly his explanation of the roles of Jewish priests and prophets.
In 1978, Burns offered a distinction to clearly contrast transformational and transformational leadership. As such he observed that transactional leadership is primarily characterized by some form of exchange which serves to prioritize personal interests. Transactional leadership accentuates on follower motivation such that followers are offered rewards and other benefits so as to ensure there is increased motivation which improves individual as well as team productivity (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web). On the other hand transformational leadership serves to alter, shape and upraise follower motivation and ethical values. Transformational leadership aims at unite diverse personal interests among followers in order to enable them pursue higher goals which is finally tested based on the degree of success of a given change program (Burns, 1978, p. 76). Transactional leadership calls for followers to institute lower levels of change while transformational leadership calls for followers to institute huge changes. It is a proven fact that transformational leadership is much more effective compared to transactional leadership as followers enjoy better job satisfaction, better productivity and low employee turnover rates (Moynihan, Pandey and Wright, 2012, p. 150).
According to the available literature material, the transformational leader is expected to be inspirational, charismatic, with individualized considerations as well as a high degree of intellectual stimulation (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web). A transformational leader is required to be visionary and this is a critical characteristic in the transformational leadership theory. It has also been debated that charisma is essentially a character found in organizational founders while transformational leaders are those organizational leaders with the motivation to instate changes in an already existing organization. Basically, transformational leadership involves individuals with the ability to inspire and motivate other members in an organization by appealing for higher goal attainment and common organizational good instead of focusing on personal interests such as financial gain (Gong, Huang, and Farh, 2009, p. 767).
4.0 Transformational leadership: Biblical lessons
Two authors, Clemens and Mayer (1999 p. 183) established prized lessons for people seeking to acquire leadership lessons from the available western literature. Another important source is the Bible offering a lot of valuable lessons with regard to effective leadership. The bible is full of amazing stories on early leaders where some were unsuccessful while others were overly successful leaders (Gong, Huang, and Farh, 2009, p. 771). The bible has been highly sought over the years for inspirational role models, metaphors and leadership examples. Abraham is one successful leader whose character traits have had pundits refer to him as a transformational leader who had the most success in instituting change (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web).
The Hebrew people owe their existence to Abraham who being a humble clan chief chose to offer his allegiance to one God only. It is documented in the Bible that Abraham departed from the Ur of Chaldees to become the founding father of a host of nations (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web). It is said the Abraham essentially sowed the very seeds that ensured that paganism was done away with. Three of the most significant monotheistic religions, that is, Christianity, Judaism and Islam came into being as a result of the transformational actions of Abraham. Abraham is accredited with aiding the world to embrace one God, compassion and justice. Abraham vision is shared by more than 50% of the total world population (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web). As such Pope John Paul the Second expressed great interest in visiting Ur the place where Abraham was born (Friedman and Langbert, 2000, web).
5.0 Abraham’s vision
Abraham was a faithful man of God, whom God spoke to in a vision. In his sleep, Abraham encountered with God in a vision. God assured Abraham not to be afraid but remain strong since his reward was great (Jacobson, 2001, web). However, Abraham was concerned and wondered why God promised him of a great reward, yet he was childless at an advanced age. This is when God promised Abraham that his own son will inherit him (Jacobson, 2001). With this said, Abraham was taken outside and told by God to look up to the sky and count the stars. Being unable to count them, God assured Abraham that that is how his descendants will be-countless! (Jacobson, 2001, web). Abraham truly believed that whatever God promised him would come to pass. God also promised Abraham that his descendants would be held captives in a foreign land for 4oo years but God will finally deliver them (Jacobson, 2001, web).
5.1 Abraham’s character
As can be observed in the above explanation of Abraham’s vision, Abraham can be depicted as a man who was faithful to God. Even after going for many years without a child, Abraham still believed in God’s promises (Kunneman, 2004, p. 76). Even after god blessed Abraham with a son, Abraham was ready to sacrifice his own son to God, since he believed that everything he had belonged to god. This stresses his faith to God (Kunneman, 2004, p. 80).
Abraham’s obedience can be seen from the above explanation of his vision. He followed all the orders that God gave him, even without knowing God’s intention. Even after God blessed him with a son, he still obeyed God’s order, where he almost sacrificed his own son (Losch, 2008, p. 32).
Although Abraham was older than Lot and could easily choose which land to settle in, he gave priority to Lot to choose. Later on in the case, Abraham even risked his own life to save Lot (Davis, 2005, p. 32). This is an expression of unselfishness.
Abraham beseeched many times with God to save the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Although he did not inhabit this land, he had mercy on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and wanted them to live in peace (Gayle, 2011, p. 57). This is an expression of mercy.
6.0 Abraham’s robust sense for justice and concern for other people
Abraham’s robust sense for justice and concern for other people can be seen in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah had sinned against God and God was annoyed with them (Kunneman, 2004, p. 82). For this reason, God decided to finish them. This is when Abraham is seen to plead with God on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, showing his great concern for these people. Abraham tirelessly engaged God with a conversation, and persistently prayed to God not to finish the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (Kunneman, 2004, p. 84).
Abraham understood that God was intending to finish the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah based on the many sins they had committed. However, the major concern that Abraham had was that even if sin was evident in all the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, not absolutely all people had sinned against God (Kunneman, 2004, p. 87). According to Abraham, God should not choose to punish all the people, when still a few faithful people exist in the land. Abraham expressed his concern to God that the sins of a few people should not lead to communal suffering of the entire population (Kunneman, 2004, p. 87). This was a show of a sense of justice that Abraham expressed, which was so strong to change the will of God’s plan to destroy the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
7.0 Humble Abraham
Abraham showed humility in his life and did not display arrogance or pride to people. He was characterized by a sense of welcoming and appreciating other people. He was also good at listening to opinion of other people keenly. Abraham displayed his humility, in the manner he welcomed strangers; who were passing near his home (Friedman and Friedman, 2007, web). He went ahead to make them a delicious meal by slaughtering them a fat animal. In serving the strangers, Abraham did it himself instead of delegating all duties to his servants. In their conversation with his wife Sarah, Abraham always gave a listening ear (Signer, 2003, p. 1). Humility is essential for leaders; leaders should lead by example as shown by Abraham when he served the strangers. It is also important for leaders to listen to their followers’ suggestions instead of imposing everything on them.
8.0 Charismatic Abraham
A charismatic leader makes people follow him, because of his inspirational nature. Abraham charisma is first evidenced when he had a fight with some kings. More than 300 men willingly joined him in the battle (Signer, 2003, p. 1). The servants of Abraham hid to his direction, as evidenced by their movement to a far country with Abraham’s goods and camels (Signer, 2003, p. 1). The servants willingly went and came back later with a wife for Abrahams son. Charismatic leader is influential and gets his followers behind him without use of any coercion. Abimelech, the king, desired to make an alliance with Abraham and this further helps to show the extent of his influence (Signer, 2003, p. 1). Successful leadership requires charismatic leaders, whose followers feel the need and urge to do what pleases their leader. Carrying out their duties correctly to the standards stipulated by their leader is their core motivating factor.
9.0 Abraham offered to sacrifice his only son in obedience to God
Leaders ought to make personal sacrifice when serving their subjects and performing their duties. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac in obedience to God’s call (Signer, 2003, p. 1). This was a personal sacrifice, because he had lived for many years without a child. Sacrificing Isaac to God would mean he would be left without a son (Sterling and Taveter, 2009, p. 44). Transformational leaders are characterized by their sole characteristic of sacrificing their own interests, for the purpose of the good of whole organization. Great sacrifice is required of leaders in their roles of ensuring the goals of an organization are met.
Abraham and her wife Sarah had actually lived many years without bearing a son. Sarah bore Isaac at an old age. The son was the pride of the family, and he brought happiness to the old couple (Sterling and Taveter, 2009, p. 45). It was contradictory that the son through whom many descents promised to origin was to be given as sacrifice. Abraham was very obedient to God and he believed that, no matter what it required he had a duty to do God’s will (Pelican, 2005, p. 23). Abraham was led by the belief that, even if it meant sacrificing his own happiness to serve God, he would still sacrifice the son.
Transformational leaders also find themselves in similar dilemmas, where they are to decide between serving their own interests or those of their organization (Bright, 2011, web). Serving the organization is the most important thing that a transformational should achieve. It means that leaders should be in fore front in doing what his subjects are expected to do. This may entail reporting to work early and going an extra mile to see the success of the organization.
10.0 Abraham, the change agent
Abraham was a change agent in a foreign land, where he settled after moving from Haran. He belonged to a clan that was different from those of people surrounding him. In the society he lived, people did not believe in welcoming strangers. Abraham was different in that not only did he welcome strangers but made delicious meal for them (Sterling and Taveter, 2009, p. 47). This showed his uniqueness in land that people hated strangers. In serving the strangers he demonstrated to his servants that they should willingly serve others with humility. Through Abraham portray of change in his time, he was able to change direction of religion for humankind in his locality. Transformational leaders are supposed to be agents of the change they want to see in their organizations. To have any change in organizations, leaders should be in lead in bringing the wanted change.
A key area that Abraham was successful in instituting change was with respect to the worship of only one God at a time when the world population leaned towards paganism. As a result, the world today is as it is as a result of Abraham’s transformational leadership which highly encouraged the worshipping of one God. More so the philosophy of concomitance which calls for all humanity to care for one another was brought about by Abraham. Abraham had the character traits that helped to transform the world and these include courage, vision, confidence, hospitality, love for fellow men, a robust sense of justice, charisma, humility, steadfast in his beliefs, daring enough not to follow others blindly and more so a great agent of change.
Leaders seeking to be prosperous transformational leaders should critically study and understand Abraham’s unique character traits. Transforming an organization is not as challenging as transforming the whole world but it is not by any means easy. Lastly, transformational leadership calls for character traits that are essentially possessed by many leaders documented in the bible.
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