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Emergent and Transformative Leadership

By Paolo Giuricich

Working ways have changed.  Our workforce is dominated by a transformed, gender balanced and super energised, younger generation.  Our critical leadership attributes have not kept pace and a leadership culture of ‘command and control’ still exists. These days are over. 

The emergent and transformative leader will be the survivor of this leadership race. Recently I attended an epic celebration at a former employer.  We were celebrating the development and growth of graduates over the last twenty years and being pioneers of the non-audit qualification route to the CA(SA) qualification.  Leaving the celebration that evening feeling a real sense of achievement and pride, I reflected further on my leadership journey, and how important culture and context are when participating and leading in a group of people.

My leadership ability to ‘command and control’ has been weak as I have always valued the diversity of thought and possibility of individuals in any team I have worked in (even when I was the de facto ‘leader’ of an area). Being the ‘boss’ was never important to me, and this is possibly why I ascribe to this model of emergent leadership and its continued applicability in the world today.

Four critical leadership roles that emerge in the evolution of the group*

Task leader role

Emotional leader role

Divergent leader roleBoundary conscious leader role

Knows the most about task required, influences goals, norms, procedures and connects with stakeholders

Concerned with relationships and smooth running of the group and models collaboration and cooperationFacilitates clarification of limits and boundaries, considers negative feelings and competition, sensitive to differences and invested in the taskFacilitates testing of commitment, dependency and distance issues, sensitive to inconsistencies and ambivalent about tasks


Can you identify these emergent leadership roles in yourself or your teams?

In the early 1980’s Donald T Brown wrote about the developmental phases of work groups/teams and emergent group leadership, based on the research finding of Ariadne Beck and her colleagues. Brown’s approach to leadership was not overly concerned with the designated and formal leadership role, but more in the emergence of functional leaders in a group, as the group relationships and tasks developed over time.  Brown also intimated that leadership roles could be played by all group/team members and could change over the lifecycle of the team as needed and when the context continually shifts.

Brown’s model has really resonated for me, as this has always been my natural leadership inclination. Being the boss (or more technically the ‘leader’) is overrated.  I am very fortunate to have worked in many high performing groups, and the common attribute for these groups, was not my leadership light, but rather the emergence of leadership from each individual at the right inflection point of group development, and comfort with this emergence.

Beyond the twenty-year celebratory event, my personal celebration catalysed, which is the sincere gratitude I have for the many opportunities in my career to be a transformative leader and champion others to emerge as leaders, better than myself.

What are you celebrating in your career journey and where do you see your leadership skills developing further?

*adapted from the ‘NTL Handbook of Organisation Development and Change’ – second edition – Jones/Brazzel

Learning and Organisation Development (OD) Advisor

PAOLO GIURICICH CA(SA) – Founder and owner of smart EQ (www.smart-EQ.com)

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For the last 20 years, Paolo has held leadership roles across Learning and Development, Talent Management and Organisation Development at leading global firms, Investec, KPMG and Arthur Andersen. His passion for people development was ignited whilst working in professional services. Paolo is a Chartered Accountant and has worked in over 30 countries, assisting people and organisations in maximising their potential.  Paolo founded smart EQ - his own Professional Development Consultancy. He is currently studying Organisation Development through the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioural Sciences in the United Kingdom.


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