Transformation Leadership Model
Transformation Leadership begins with Jesus’ model and challenges us to enter into a partnership with the Holy Spirit with an expectation of transforming people, our organizations, our churches, our governments, and even our world. That bigger picture focus is what we will refer to as systems leadership. Spirit-led leadership is always focused on God’s ultimate purpose. Losing sight of that – even for a season – erodes the power of leaders and organizations to be fully walking in what God has intended for them.
Years ago, teaching leadership concepts with a fellow consultant, we came up with what we called the Circles of Influence Model. Four overlapping circles represented, from smallest to largest, Self, 1-on-1 Relationships, Teams, and System. It was very useful for describing the level of influence leaders are able to exert in different places. From a Christian’s standpoint, however, the model is fundamentally flawed in that it is disconnected from the power of the Holy Spirit – the source of all power. Being isolated from that power, the leader is severely limited in the influence s/he can exert. Our ability to change the system is always seen as something that is limited and sporadic.
God has recently shown us a model that is true to His divine purpose “to bring everything under one head, even Jesus Christ,” and to do that through the Holy Spirit working powerfully through yielded, obedient leaders working wherever we have been placed. Even as He works in and through us, we work in and through others – a relationship-based process. All of us interconnect in the goal and process of transforming the system. Visually, the model is much like a gear train – a series of interconnected gears all of which influence each other while exerting a powerful force on the whole.
The whole purpose of a gear train is to efficiently transfer power from one part of a system to another. The arrangement of gears and shafts – the ratio, creates a mechanical advantage in which a small part in one area can produce a very large effect on another area in or outside of the gear box. The connection to any other entity can be made from any gear in the system. In our diagram, please note several points which we will elaborate on.
- The largest part of this model is, of course, the Kingdom of God – the Divine gear box, so to speak. Representing the ultimate power source, the Holy Spirit is also the “oil,” facilitating transfer of power
- Our organization – our individual place in it and our relationships with our “gears” – our inner circle, our associates and our larger “system.” There are countless millions of “our organizations” within the Kingdom of God
- Other organizations currently outside the Kingdom with whom we have indirect connections or no connections at all, e.g. our state government, or the international banking system
- Other organizations currently outside the Kingdom with whom we have a direct connection, e.g. our industry or our school system
- Responding to Holy Spirit power, our organization connects to some other "system" and transforms it so that it, too, aligns itself with the plans and purposes of God.
So, in the practical terms of our gear box model, transformation leadership is closely meshing with the power of the Holy Spirit to move our sphere of influence into a position to engage ever-widening systems, bringing them into alignment with God’s eternal purpose. Transformational leaders are primarily concerned with affecting big-picture relationships.
One important element of the gear model is that it is quite possible for only one gear to be connected directly to the power source. Why is this so vital? Our experience is that many Christian leaders believe their business or organization cannot be transformational because their employees aren’t Christians. Wrong! The Holy Spirit only needs one yielded, obedient person to move an organization into the Kingdom of God. (See What about all our people who are not Christians? below).
For our purposes, a starting place is the Holy Spirit in relationship to the “self” gear (numbers 1 and 2). Only in a close and proper relationship with the Holy Spirit are we empowered to impact the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). In relationship with Him, we are guided into all truth (John 16:13). We “mesh” with the Holy Spirit and our influence on the rest of the gear train is powerful and true, aligned with the perfect will of God as expressed in the Holy Spirit within us.
Focusing our attention now on (number 2) our own business or organization – our immediate sphere of influence – we enter into relationship with a chosen few. Just as Jesus had an inner circle of Peter, James and John, so are we to build deep, trusting relationships. We disciple them and impart to them all that we are learning from the Holy Spirit. At the same time, our closeness with this inner circle allows us constant feedback on our own relationship with God.
These inner circle relationships in turn extend our influence to more and more people. Jesus interacted with the other nine disciples – the team in our model, but probably communicated often through Peter, James and John. We then see the twelve interacting with the larger contingent of people who traveled with Jesus and with those whom He taught and healed and delivered. Jesus was constantly grooming His disciples to do the very work He was doing, eventually releasing them to much broader geographical and temporal limits than He Himself worked in.
In the end, Jesus instructed all His followers, including us, to be leaders and to “go and make disciples of all nations.” He commissioned us with the gift of the Holy Spirit to go “the ends of the earth.” This brings us to points 3, 4 and 5. Through our personal interaction and our corporate “systems” we are to influence the whole earth. Wherever we are, we are in relationship with people and organizations and we are to use those relationships to carry out God’s plans and purposes.
One more thought about the gear box. When the gears operate within the oil of the HS, they run flawlessly. When they move outside or allow a breach of the gear box, foreign matter gets in the gears and they function poorly and even cease.
For the less mechanically inclined reader, consider the 10-speed bicycle as another way to look at gears. The gear shift lever (the transformational leader) directs the power from the pedals (the Holy Spirit) through a relationship of different sized gears, (the people and resources of the organization) so that the chain drives the rear wheel of the bike up and over obstacles and hills to reach its destination (the plans and purposes of God).