Quotes explaining transformational principles of “Deep Change”

This is just key quotes with minimal explanation. What Quinn discovers is that an organization can only undergo what he calls Deep Change if key leaders are personally living it. He learns it from observing and consulting with a wide range of organizations, and his own personal internal work. So his examples are all what we would call ‘secular’. But see if you hear him describing Jesus, as I did (what follows is all quotes, starting at around page 125):

The first assumption of the transformational paradigm is the most radical and the hardest to understand. This paradigm does not assume per­sonal survival but instead vision realization at any cost. If the vision lives and thrives, it does not matter if the leader is fired, assassi­nated, or humiliated. The vision itself is far more important than personal survival.

Under the transformational paradigm, the organization is viewed not just as a technical or a political system but also as a moral sys­tem. There are certain values and principles that are more power­ful than the political interests of any particular coalition.

A transformational leader will develop a plan of action, mobilize the workforce, and unleash power by vocalizing the core values of the system. Their source of credibility is their behavioral integrity. A leader must walk the walk and talk the talk. Every action must be in alignment with the vision. To fail on this dimension is to reduce the vision to an exercise in hypocrisy. When evaluating a vision, people watch the behavior of their leaders and quickly rec­ognize if a leader lacks personal discipline and commitment. Peo­ple know when a leader’s words are empty, and they respond by simply ignoring the vision until the vision dies.

When it comes to authority, the leader is self-authorizing. Unlike the manager who has internalized the organization, the leader understands the external boundaries and restrictions but selects another path. The leader chooses to be free. This transfor­mational perspective arises from a deep inner reflection about the self and the internal and external structures that determine the organizational systems. The leader understands the organization’s systems in a way that cannot be understood within the framework of the paradigm of political transaction. Hence when a confronta­tion emerges, the leader often engages in a series of very complex strategies that are filled with risk and surprise.

The transformational paradigm transcends the rational planning process. It is concerned with deep change with exploring new areas, trying new methodologies, and reaching new goals. The means to the desired end cannot be specified; they can only be learned as part of a risky, action-learning process.

To help convey a vision, a transformational leader will often engage in symbolic communication, creating vivid mental images for followers. These images provide a general guideline, as opposed to a specific directive.

Throughout the process of imparting a vision, the leader engages in unconventional behavior. The leader’s actions are often beyond normal expectations and outside the rules of self-interest. For this reason, the transformational leader is difficult to understand. If the transactional paradigm comes from internalizing the organization, the transformational paradigm comes from transcending the orga­nization. The transformational process involves a rebirth–a deep personal change–a hero’s journey from which the leader emerges empowered and empowering.

To internalize the trans­formational paradigm, the leader must become free of the organiza­tion’s most powerful expectations, see it from a self-authorized perspective, and still care enough to be willing to be punished for doing whatever it takes to save the organization. Such processes are rare. Grasping the transformational paradigm involves personal change.

“Deep Change” Chapter 14, around pg 125


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