Inside the Classroom: Transformational Leadership

Written by Hannah Crivello
April 22, 2014
This 2014 Spring Quarter, students are engaging the fascinating topic of transformational leadership through the course STML 561, taught by Dr. Sharon Henderson Callahan. The course attempts to inspire students to think creatively about how to connect people with each other, leading toward adaptive change that impacts all for the better.

Utilizing a combination of theory, experience and skill building, the course creates small group communities of learning and reflects with the learners on the need for small groups within organizations; the power small groups have to change entire organizational dynamics; the contributions these groups have toward leading adaptive change in organizations; and the type of long view leadership needed to foster and support the efforts toward change.

The course operates within James MacGregor Burns' basic definition of transformational leadership as that dynamic in an organization which impacts all parties in such a way that each is better for the interaction and the product is better for the group?s participation. Students think together about how transformation can sound magical, exciting, and desirable--sort of like the super hero notion of becoming someone with super powers that save the world. We also think then of how that kind of transformation in real life often costs--choices to make differences in the way we behave with others, choices in which things secure communal buy-in, choices to trust outcomes and to count on the gifts of the whole matching the need of the group to make a difference.?

The course then mixes personal growth, professional experience, implementation of various theories in classroom activities, and deep application of theories of organizational change to personal stories of leadership failure. Students often say the course time flies by, reflect that multiple intelligences are engaged simultaneously, enjoy the combination of kinesthetic, visual and aural learning methodologies, and report appreciation for their deepened understanding of how to work more carefully and intentionally toward implementing organizational change.

Are you interested in the topic? Check out the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership (MATL), the Juris Doctor / MATL and corresponding course offerings, here.