A Missiological Analysis of Transformational Leadership Theory
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SubjectBass, Bernard M.
Christian missions requires leadership that is theologically sound, inter-culturally appropriate and effective. Bernard Bass’ transformational leadership is a well-studied contemporary leadership theory and has the potential to be a significant theoretical basis for missions leadership. Transformational leadership must undergo a thorough critique before leaders attempt to apply the theory in missions contexts. This study is an assessment of transformational leadership theory for missions purposes. The theory is assessed from three perspectives: theoretical, theological, and cultural-anthropological. This research demonstrates that Bass’ transformational leadership theory is a sound theory, but one with significant limitations for Christian missions. Bass did not design his theory as a tool for Christian missions and it lacks key biblical notions that make the theory, as is, a poor choice of leadership in missions. Transformational leadership has been studied in many intercultural contexts and the general principles appear to work in these environments. Through the use of Hofstede’s dimensions of culture, this research demonstrates that Bass’ transformational leadership theory is a variform universal—the principles are maintained interculturally but with various mediations, modifications, and moderations. This research presents two new typologies by which to assess transformational leadership theory—the first is a leadership theory typology and the second is a leadership theology typology. These typologies may be useful to other researchers in their attempt to examine other leadership theories for use in missions. As a result of this research process, this study presents a roadmap for future research in leadership theory for missions.