Transformational Leadership in Kenya

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Introduction

This paper expounds on Transformational Leadership based on the concepts developed in class ML 510 (August – September 2009). Other than the class concepts, the works of Northouse, 2003; Yukl, 1989; Collins, 2001; Tichy & Ulrich, 1984; Bass & Steidlmeir, 1998, informed the theoretical frameworks for the paper. Theories and concepts informed the basis of whether such leadership factors do or not exist in the Kenyan situation. Not withstanding, it is notable that leadership of NIST is undergoing a similar process as identified in the literature under review.

In their article “The Leadership Challenge – A Call for the Transformational Leader,” Noel M. Tichy and David O. Ulrich seek to define a new brand of leadership consistent with the changing nature of the US Economy and world market. They seek to define the qualities of a transformational leader and delineate the organizational dynamics of change a leader must manage, in terms of structure, culture and the individuals that make up an organization. 20 years after this article, there exists a typical situation at NIST and perhaps many other organizations in Kenya, only that owing to cultural orientations and value prioritization, it is likely that the opposite of the views expressed by the authors are practiced.

Transformational leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals. It is concerned with emotions, values, ethics, standards, and long-term goals and includes assessing follower’s motives, satisfying their needs, and treating them as full human beings (Northouse, 2003). A transformational leader is defined in terms of how the leader affects followers, who are intended to trust, admire, and respect him/her. Bass, (1990) identified three ways in which leaders transform followers: by increasing their awareness of task importance and value; by getting them to focus first on team or organizational goals rather than their own interests; and by activating their higher-order needs. Moreover, the transformational leader appeals to the follower’s emotions, attraction, and support through evoking, stirring, coaching, and mentoring them.

Northouse (2003:174) lists four transformational leadership factors as idealized influence; inspirational motivation; intellectual stimulation; and individualized consideration. However, Tracey and Hinkin (1998) suggest that the parameters of these four factors often overlap with similar conceptualization of leadership causing confusion. Further, Bryman (1992), for example points out that transformational and charismatic leadership are often treated synonymously even though in some models of leadership (e.g. Bass, 1985), charisma is only part of the transformational leadership.

Tichy and Ulrich (1984), argue that the changing nature of the US economy in the early 1980s was driving the need to revise organizational culture to ensure that US companies remained competitive in the world market. To navigate this cultural shift, Tichy and Ulrich called for a new breed of leaders who could help an organization develop a new vision, gather support and buy-in from stakeholders, guide the organization through a transformative phase and possess the capacity to institutionalize changes over time.

The globalization era demands without any exceptions the need for transformational leaders in Kenya; however, the country is seriously devoid of such leaders. Aseka, (2005) asserts that Kenya is a country where resources (both natural and human) are wasted due to tribalism, nepotism, political arrogance and the inability of those in power to realize that building a nation means mobilizing people, motivating and inspiring them with ideals that would make them involved to change their lives. In view of these ideals, factors and concepts of transformational leadership, Kenya as at now, is deficient of such behaviour embedded amongst the leaders, at least at the level of national governance and political realm....
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