Approaching the 4R Model of Transformational Leadership

Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. were great leaders because they transformed their worlds. They took initiative, inspired, and stimulated ideas within their culture. They moved beyond self-interests and promoted the well being of others. Lincoln and MLK were great leaders because they implemented virtuous ideas and became trusted leaders that influenced a troubled culture. The 4R Model of Transformational Leadership is a simple and eminent framework for integrating virtue into a global business and leadership perspective. The model works as a “conceptual home” for the critical variables in the transformational leadership process: Relationships, Roles, Responsibilities, and Results. With the help of the 4R model, leaders are able to become transformational leaders who are able to effectively motivate and inspire the organization.

The 4R model pictures the leader engaged in a network of collaborative relationships and places emphasis on a configuration of critical personal characteristics that are vital to developing these relationships. Within the relationship category, we understand that leadership is an essential relational and social endeavor—getting relationships right is a pre-requisite to everything else a leader does. The relationships component of the 4R Model addresses the question: “What characteristics must all organizational leaders possess in order to provide effective, transformational leadership over time in a variety of situations?”

The characteristics that are essential for becoming transformational leaders consist of five foundational BASIC virtues that should exist in the leaders of an organization that intends to increase trust:

Beneficial Partnerships define the leader's capacity to foster collaborative relationships. To collaborate is to "co-labor" and work in an interdependent fashion to achieve common ends.

Aligned Emotions establishes the leader's emotional maturity including knowing one's passions, wants and needs, and the emotional states of followers.

Sustained Determination means the leader has the inner strength to initiate action in the face of obstacles, not shrink in the face of resistance, and to sustain momentum in the face of adversity.

Intellectual Flexibility contains the capacity to see and to adapt to the world accurately with the help of others.

Character is one's moral integrity, which is the inner strength to live in accordance with high moral standards.

Applying these virtues into the daily routines of leaders will help them and their organizations to succeed by building trustworthy relationships. But the roles that these individual leaders play in the organization are equally important. These roles highlight the critical connection between the relational and moral agency of the leader as expressed in their partnerships, the leader’s focus, and the welfare and progress of the organization. Being a direction setter, spokesperson, coach, and change agent are four roles that have embedded in them a culture-shaping “script” that prompts and guides the leader’s investment of attention and energy.

The Direction Setter has the capacity to view into the future and set a course of direction for the organization. This role must be able to take the core values of the organization and infuse the organization with a compelling sense of “tomorrow.”

The Change Agent has the ability to know when, where, and how to change and be a role model for change. They prompt and support a continuous, collective focus on constructive change and promote the spirit of experimentation and prudent risk-taking with the ultimate goal of becoming more innovative.

The Coach has the desire and devotion to transfer knowledge and grow employees through feedback, support, and accountability. They must be able to foster a leadership-friendly culture that affords new leaders the opportunity to contribute to the mission of the organization.

The Spokesperson has the capability to build and sustain a customer-engaged and focused culture, deeply understanding the needs and trends of the market and customers, and effectively interacting with the world outside the organization.

As with any role, there are certain responsibilities that are essential to maintaining the right behavior. The responsibilities category pictures transformational leadership as a seamless process of leadership behaviors. Four leadership responsibilities vital to the transformational process are vision casting, strategy making, aligning, motivating, and analysis and judgment. These depict the essential activities every transformational leader must do to lead well over time.

Vision Casting is the leader's ability to visualize and communicate an engaging, emotional, and energized picture of the preferred future state.

Strategy Formation is the leader's skill to break down the vision and build a roadmap of actionable, realistic, measurable, and time-oriented steps to get to the future state.

Aligning requires the leader’s focus to execute the strategy by aligning the work, skill and resources of the organization.

Motivating is the leader’s consistent capacity to infuse hope, confidence, courage, and recognition to others for the work that has been and needs to be done.

Analysis and judgment manages resources and makes decisions with short- and long-term impacts in mind; has the courage to take risks and say “no” if necessary.

The results category is the outcome of the other three categories. The Results are the cumulative and collective outcomes of leaders’ relationships attending to each of the organizational roles and implementing each of the leadership responsibilities. The results will be contextually aligned to the vision, strategy, and values of the organization.

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