The above link is the state of the union address by Phillip Radford, who is the executive director of Greenpeace. In his address, he calls out some of the issues related to coal as an energy source, protecting the oceans, preserving the forest, nuclear power, and chemical plants. He warns that the President needs to take firm action to continue along the path of progress rather than the path of regression, which Radford feels is the path that Congress is currently on.
I want to take a look at Radford’s address according to some transformational leadership models. According to Peter Northouse, transformational leadership refers to the process whereby a person engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower. He also says that that this type of leader is attentive to the needs and motives of followers, and tries to help followers reach their full potential. In reference to Radford’s address, Radford certainly can be characterized as a transformational leader. His address is loaded with issues that are meant to stir the emotions of his followers, like deforestation and protecting the oceans. He constantly uses the word “we” as opposed to referring specifically to his followers or towards the American legislative or executive bodies to generate a genuine authentic sense of connection. He calls on anyone who will listen to be active and to operate with a sense of urgency, which in essence is urging followers to act to their full potential.
According to the work of Dr. Bass in 1985, transformational leadership could apply to situations in which the outcomes were not positive, and also by describing transformational and transactional leadership (typical leadership based on exchanges between leaders and followers) along a continuum. This approach says that transformational leadership is determined by four factors, and these factors are idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Idealized influence refers to leaders who act as strong role models for followers; followers relate to the leader and want to emulate them as much as possible. Radford’s address brings attention to topics that concern those of us who would like to make a difference in the world and see a brighter day for future generations, so he makes his followers want to act like him by presenting concerns that affect us all. In terms of inspirational motivation, he emphasizes how far we have come in the past forty years, and he stresses that we can still achieve great things and move forward if we stay persistent. He calls for us to make a difference and appeal to our government, which is a definite form of motivation. For intellectual stimulation, he talks about topics that do not necessarily have clear solutions. He presents the problem, creates a vision for the future, and challenges us to help create answers to connect the dots. Individualized consideration refers to a leader that provides a supportive climate for his followers and listens carefully to their needs. In his address, Radford brings to light many of his followers’ needs, from saving the oceans to preserving the forest. He implies that all of his followers should support the fight for each individualized cause, which certainly counts as individualized consideration.
After applying these models, Radford can clearly be seen as a transformational leader. What does Radford need to do to sway the minds of politicians and garner further support for his cause? Is he on the right track?