How Transformational Leaders help Disadvantaged People to Overcome Poverty

Table of Contents

Brief outline of the Challenge. 2

Leadership Audit 3

Personal leadership audit 5

Strategy for overcoming the challenge. 5

Current Situation – salience. 6

Desired outcome. 7

Getting there – Architecture and resolution. 9

Plan for creating and managing supporting team.. 10

Leadership skills, knowledge, attitudes and experience. 11

Ethical and Social Responsibility issues. 13

Conclusion. 14

References list 16

Appendices. 18

Brief outline of the Challenge

            One of the most difficult challenges in the contemporary leadership of the society is to help the disadvantaged people to overcome poverty. Poverty is a common social problem in most societies. This is a challenge to leaders in the society because leaders in the society pursue servant leadership which entails choosing services for others rather than pursuing self interest. Leaders have to put their own interests aside in order to help the disadvantaged members of the society to overcome poverty.

            Balfanz (2013) argues that the recent economic recession in the world has caused unemployment among young adults. Many people do not find suitable jobs that can enable them feed their families. This is mainly common among people who have not attained post-secondary training or education. Lack of employment and poor social support systems have caused poverty among many people around the world, and it becomes apparently necessary to develop social and economic solutions to the problem. This requires sound leadership that will guide people towards the achievement of their goals and objectives of life.

            Leading the society to overcome a social problem is even more challenging than leading an organisation to achieve profitability and competitive advantages. As a leader, I have to convince the society to change their attitudes in order to overcome poverty, because leaders themselves will not provide food for the disadvantaged but just provide them with the means through which they can earn a living (Day and Schoemaker, 2008). Leadership entails getting things done, and in this case, for others.

Leadership Audit

            There are various self-leadership skills and qualities that will guide me towards addressing the challenge of poverty among the disadvantaged people in the society. One of the most important qualities that I will need is servant leadership or stewardship. As a servant, I will serve the poor by communicating a focus on how to overcome poverty. Servant leadership enables me to serve the disadvantaged in the society. Another skill that needs to be used in the challenge is creation of a compelling vision. This is an element of transformational leadership. A transformational leader is needed in times of crises or turbulence such as in times of economic crisis and ensuing poverty challenge (Goleman, 2000).

Intellectual and emotional stimulation is needed to transform a challenging situation. A good transformational leader with good charisma and energy is also needed to lead disadvantaged people to achieve their goals and overcome poverty. Another key attribute required for me to lead disadvantaged people to avoid poverty is to act as a role model. In this regard, I will be required to work hard and develop my own strategies to utilize available resources in order to earn a living for myself and improve my economic position. This will set a good example for the disadvantaged to emulate in order to improve their economic situations. I need to be inspirational and motivational in my leadership approach in order to inspire and motivate others to improve their economic and social standards.

There are also three classes of leadership skills that will be needed to overcome the problem of poverty: administrative, interpersonal and conceptual skills. Administrative skills will enable me utilize resources effectively, organize, control and direct members of the society to perform appropriate duties in order to achieve the required levels of living standards. Interpersonal skills are also required to develop a good relationship with members of the society in order to gain their trust and support. Conceptual skills are also necessary because they will enable me to develop necessary strategies, steps and innovations to pursue in order to eradicate poverty.

Personal leadership audit

            Personal leadership audit involves auditing my own leadership skills. In this part I have filled two types of questionnaires to determine my skills. The first questionnaire measures my leadership skills in terms of interpersonal, administrative and conceptual skills. This has enabled me identify my strengths and weaknesses. In appendix 1, my leadership skills scores are summarized as follows:

Administrative skill score (items 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, and 16) = 26

Interpersonal skill score (items 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, and 17) = 26

Conceptual skill score (items 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 = 26

            From the scores of each of the three sets of skills, it is clear that I have no better strength or worse weakness in one set of skills over the other because I have scored the same in the three sets of skills. However, two of my specific weaknesses are responding quickly to problems and using my energy to motivate others. My strengths include knowing people’s reactions ahead of time, understanding social fabric of the community, responding to people’s requests fast, seeing the big picture easily, and discussing the values and philosophy of the community effectively.



Strategy for overcoming the challenge

            In order to overcome the challenge of helping disadvantaged people to overcome poverty, I need to use the above skills and develop new skills that I don’t possess through experience and learning obtained from associating with stakeholders. The strategy to overcome the challenge requires a clear understanding of the challenge, identifying the desired outcomes, and developing a plan of action to achieve the desired outcome (Day and Schoemaker, 2008). This approach is based on the integrative thinking model which involves salience, causality architecture, and resolution as shown in the figure below.


Current Situation – salience

            The salient features of a problem are those that are most common challenges to the problem. In terms of poverty, one key salient issue is the inability of people to meet their basic needs. A community with salient poverty lacks the mechanism to support their families and earn decent livelihoods. This poses a great challenge to leadership because lack of access to basic needs means that the society lacks the necessary resources including human resources and physical resources to overcome their problems. An effective leader is able to utilize resources to meet the needs of the society, but without resources it is difficult to achieve that.

            A poor society is also characterized by inadequate social amenities, infrastructure and services. Disadvantaged members of the society are not able to acquire good education, medical care, transport and communication system, electricity, and other social infrastructure. This causes great impact on leadership.

            The problem of poverty brings a gap of equality in the society. While some people become rich and richer in the society, others remain extremely poor. Leadership needs to bring ethicality and social responsibility aspects alongside transformational qualities to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor (Heifetz and Laurie, 1997).

            In order to overcome this problem, I need to address priority issues as a leader. For instance, I should to attend to the economic issues that face the disadvantaged people such as interest rates, inflation, prices of goods, availability of government economic incentives, consumption spending, and savings among others. There is an extreme desire for the disadvantaged to live quality lives and to enjoy the benefits of the society. This can be achieved through unity and teamwork in the society (Heifetz and Laurie, 1997). In order to achieve this, they need a leader who can be able to guide them.

Desired outcome

            The desired outcome for this scenario is to see the disadvantaged members of the society rising out of their poverty to enjoy equally with others the prosperity of the community. According to the integrative thinking model, the desired scenario requires a leader to understand some aspects of causality in the problem.  In this step of developing strategy, multidirectional and non-linear causality need to be developed in order to link the salient scenario to the desired scenario.

            Integrative thinking requires multidimensional and nonlinear relationships among variables. The table below shows the relationship between key factors in the problem of poverty as well as the desired outcome for each factor.


Independent Variable Dependent Variable Desired outcome
Economic crisis ·         Low purchasing power

·         Poor living standards

·         Financial difficulties

·         Unaffordable credit

·         Increased purchasing power

·         Improved living standards

·         Living above poverty line

·         Affordable credit

Social problems ·         Poor healthcare

·         Low levels of education

·         Crime

·         Prostitution

·         Improved healthcare for all

·         Increased and affordable education for all

·         Reduction of crime incidences by over 70%

Political conflicts ·         Community development

·         Unity

·         Peace

·         Inequality

·         Increased benefits of community development projects

·         Higher levels of unity among political groups

·         Improvement of peace in the society

·         Higher equality


            This table highlights some of the variables and desired outcomes that are expected from intervention of leadership. Poverty will be overcome if all the desired outcomes are achieved. This requires an analysis of causality. From the table, it is clear that economic crisis causes low purchasing power, poor living standards, financial difficulties, and unaffordable credit. These renders people poor because they are not able to meet their basic needs without money and other economic resources. Social problems such as poor healthcare, low education levels and crime are also caused by poverty and also cause abject poverty through the viscous circle of poverty. This strategy aims at overcoming poverty by addressing all these variables and achieving better economic, social and political outcomes as shown in column three of the table above.

Getting there – Architecture and resolution

            According to Fletcher (1993), there are things that need to be done in order to set the stage for success. One of the things that I will need to do as a leader in order to transform the disadvantaged people out of poverty include uniting people and allowing them to work in groups in order to develop their communities. Community development can be accomplished by people who work together bringing ideas together and pooling resources together. This requires a transformational leader who can delegate duties, communicate the vision of the society effectively, and make effective decisions when necessary (Goleman, 2000). My input as a leader also involves identifying the priority areas of development that will generate income and improve social infrastructure for the society.

Bringing the disadvantaged together in groups involves certain activities. First, I will bring members together and communicate to them the need to engage in community development together in order to achieve higher standards of living and overcome poverty. This reflects the architectural element of integrative thinking. In this case, the problem of poverty is viewed as a whole and how its parts can fit together (Martin, 2007). The architectural elements of eradicating poverty include forming groups to obtain loans and run businesses together and running community projects such as constructing dams, pooling resources to build hospitals and schools, and raising funds to educate bright children. This requires me as a leader to build support through formal and informal power (French and Raven, 1959).

This strategic perspective of effecting change in this manner is a transformational perspective. This involves a transcending strategy whereby vision is aligned to the strategy. This strategy also entails developing trust. I will be externally open to uncertainties, focusing on others and developing a clear purpose of overcoming poverty in the community.

            Another important strategy is to exercise ethical leadership in terms of servant leadership whereby I will use my personal values to serve the disadvantaged people through the turbulent environment of change from poverty to prosperity. Russell (2002) argues that moral values of a leader influences leader-follower relationship. All the strategic activities above can therefore be exercised successfully if I use servant leadership approach to win the trust of disadvantaged people in the society.

Plan for creating and managing supporting team

            The key stakeholders who are engaged in this project are community leaders, disadvantaged members of the community, political leaders, government agencies, business people in the community, and non-governmental organisations. These shareholders can be analysed using the stakeholder mapping as shown below.

As a leader, I will gain commitment from these stakeholders by communicating the need for change in the community effectively. This communication will entail winning trust and support through political power, personal values, intelligence, and persuasiveness (Quinn, 2004). I will also apply the concept of diplomat leadership which is always a key aspect of my leadership attributes. In this approach, I will attempt to gain control of my own behaviour, conform to the desires of the people I serve, and avoid conflict in groups. I will also be supportive of all community projects by bringing people together and helping in their integration and cohesiveness.

·         Business people

·         Non-governmental organisations

·         Disadvantaged community members

·         Community leaders

·         Non-governmental agents ·         Political leaders

·         Government agencies


Level of interest



                                            Low                                High

       Power of stakeholders

            In order to bring these members together and enhance collaboration, certain leadership capabilities are required. These include communication and persuasiveness, role model leadership, servant leadership, moral values in leadership, respecting views of the stakeholders, and leadership intelligence (Heifetz and Linsky, 2002). Good communication enables me to communicate the need of overcoming poverty. It also enables me to communicate the vision of the support team and win the trust of shareholders in each strategic activity that is needed to accomplish the vision.

Leadership skills, knowledge, attitudes and experience

            From the problem-solving strategy, there are various leadership skills and qualities that will be tested and developed. The skills are mainly categorized into administrative, interpersonal and conceptual skills. One of the capabilities that I will need to develop is motivational skill. I will develop emotional energy to motivate team members to implement strategies in order to overcome poverty. In this case, I will improve my motivational skills in particular and interpersonal skills in general. I will deal with pressure on this capability by relying on the support and trust of members of the support team.

I will also enhance my motivational skills through experience in the problem solving strategy, as well as learning from the motivational approach of other members of the support team. Although I may experience failures and mistakes in the process of implementing the problem-solving strategies, I will overcome the mistakes and failures by learning from them and learning new motivational approaches from members of the staff (Day and Schoemaker, 2008).

Another leadership skill that I will need to develop in the implementation of the strategy is ability to manage resources effectively to achieve group and community objectives. I will use the available resources in the community to carry out various activities with the support team. As a result, I will use the experience to improve my administrative skills in order to utilise resources efficiently. According Katz (1955), human skill is an essential attribute of a leader to work effectively in a group and bring people together and develop cooperation in the team. This will be achieved in the problem-solving through experience. I will therefore be able to manage people and resources to overcome poverty among the disadvantaged in the society.

Managing people and resources as a leadership skill may be faced with mistakes and failures in implementing the problem solving activities. However, I will need to express human skill by being aware of my attitudes and assumptions, and developing my ability to manage and relate with other members of the group through natural, continuous, and consistent activities (Fletcher, 1993). I will deal with pressures of administrative skills by ensuring that I do the right thing at the right time through the right people. This requires good transformational skills.

Conceptual skills also need to be developed through the experiences of the problem-solving strategy. Specifically, the strategy will enable me to develop my attitude towards problem solving. When problems arise, I will be able to address them immediately and effectively. Conceptual skill should be naturally developed through a leader’s activities and experiences (Katz, 1955). The problem solving strategy provides a good experience to develop problem-solving skills.

I will deal with pressure on this conceptual skill by assigning special problem solving activities to members of the support team who have good problem-solving skills and abilities. This is an important element of transformational leadership that takes the form of delegation of activities (Burns, 2003). As this is being done by the support staff member, I will observe the team members related themselves to the job given to them.

Ethical and Social Responsibility issues

            The problem solving strategy will involve ethical and social responsibility issues. CRS issues can be enhanced through political, cultural and socio-economic drivers (Vissor, 2008). CSR requires the support group to take the cultural, economic and interests of the society into consideration. This involves respecting the community, supporting community causes, and encouraging stakeholder participation.

            Ethical approach to the strategy will also be experienced by pursuing the right projects and avoiding any illegal business. The strategy will involve legal activities. I will be observant of ethical standards and encourage participation of community members in enhancing ethical practices (Quinn, 2004). Standard behaviour that will be observed is the promotion of quality services and products in the community. I will also pursue environmental sustainability through reduction of gas emissions and other related unethical activities.

            The leadership values that will be essential in driving the strategy are moral value and personal behaviour. Moral reasoning will influence understanding of ethical or unethical behaviours (Russell, 2002). Values affect personal reasoning and behaviour of leaders, hence promoting interpersonal relationships in groups and influencing solutions provided by leaders for the problems being addressed.


            In conclusion, it is clear that key strategies will be developed in order to overcome poverty addresses multidirectional relationships of various variables related to poverty. Such variables as social infrastructure, political conflicts, and economic crisis can be linked to specific factors affecting poverty such as crime, lack of food, inadequate housing, poor medical care, poor education and low standards of living. The strategies that will be taken to overcome these challenges involves bringing together various stakeholders in the community and leading them to engage in community development, group funding, and other social and economic activities. The main leadership quality needed to achieve this is communication of the vision of the groups.

            This evaluative paper has provided my key skills that through a personal audit. From the audit, it is clear that I have good interpersonal, administrative and conceptual skills needed for me to help the disadvantaged people to overcome poverty. However, there are various weaknesses in terms of these groups of skills. For instance, I do not react fast to problems brought to me. Furthermore, I am not good in motivating others. I can develop these skills through the experiences of the problem-solving strategy by naturally and continuously engaging in activities that will enhance such skills, especially administrative and conceptual skills. I can develop interpersonal skills by interacting frequently with members of my support team and delegating some leadership activities to some of the stakeholders.
















References list

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectation. New York: Free Press.

Burns, J.M. (2003). Transforming Leadership: The Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Atlantic       Monthly Press.

Cameron, K.S. and Quinn, R. (2006). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based   on the Competing Values Framework. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco

Day, G.S. and Schoemaker, P.J.H. (2008). Are You a ‘Vigilant Leader’? MIT Sloan          Management Review.

Fletcher, J. (1993). Patterns of high performance: Discovering the ways people work best. San       Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

French, J.R. P. and Raven, B. (1959). “The Bases of Social Power,” in Cartwright, D., ed. Studies             in Social Power. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press

Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that Gets Results, Harvard Business Review, March-April, pp.    78-90.

Heifetz, R.A. and Laurie, D. (1997). “The work of leadership”, Harvard Business Review, 124-    134.

Heifetz, R.A. and Linsky, M. (2002). A survival guide for leaders”, Harvard Business Review,     Vol. 80 No. 6, pp. 65-73.

Katz, R.L. (1955). Skills of an Effective Administrator. Harvard Business Review, January-          February, 33-42.

Martin, R.L. (2007). The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative        Thinking. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Quinn, R. (2004). Building a bridge as you walk on it, Jossey Bass, San Francisco.

Russell, R.F. and Stone, G.A. (2002). A review of Servant Leadership attributes: developing a     practical model. Leadership and Organisation Development Journal, 23(3), 145-157.

Visser, W. (2008) CSR Drivers: The Forces Shaping Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR Inspiration Series, No. 3.













Appendix 1: Leadership skills Questionnaire

Statements Not true Seldom true Occasionally true Somewhat true Very true
1.      I am effective with the detailed aspects of my work. 1 2 3 4 5
2.      I usually know ahead of time how people will respond to a new idea or proposal. 1 2 3 4 5
3.      I am effective at problem solving 1 2 3 4 5
4.      Filling out forms and working with details comes easily for me. 1 2 3 4 5
5.      Understanding the social fabric of the community is important to me. 1 2 3 4 5
6.      When problems arise, I immediately address them. 1 2 3 4 5
7.      Managing people and resources is one of my strengths. 1 2 3 4 5
8.      I am able to sense the emotional undercurrents in my group. 1 2 3 4 5
9.      Seeing the big picture comes easily for me. 1 2 3 4 5
10.  In my work, I enjoy responding to people’s requests and concerns. 1 2 3 4 5
11.  I use my emotional energy to motivate others. 1 2 3 4 5
12.  Making strategic plans for my community appeals to me. 1 2 3 4 5
13.  Obtaining and allocating resources is a challenging aspect of my job. 1 2 3 4 5
14.  The key to successful conflict resolution is respecting my opponent 1 2 3 4 5
15.  I enjoy discussing organisational and society’s values and philosophy 1 2 3 4 5
16.  I am effective in obtaining resources to support the disadvantaged people 1 2 3 4 5
17.  I work hard to find consensus in conflict situation 1 2 3 4 5
18.  I am flexible in making changes in the community 1 2 3 4 5

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