Transformational Leadership through the Lens of a Nonprofit Organization

After spending one month so far at Voices of September 11th, it is clear that the organization most closely resembles the transformational leadership theory. Bass & Avolio identify four qualities of transformational leadership that are relevant when discussing Voices of September 11th: charisma/idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. In this response, I will focus on charisma, inspirational motivation, and intellectual stimulation.

In terms of charisma/idealized influence, Voices of September 11th largely exemplifies the ability to engage with its followers in a way that unites each member of the team. For example, this past Wednesday I finally was able to meet the Executive Director, Founder, other interns, and the woman who oversees the interns through a socially distanced picnic in a local park. The directors of the organization planned this outing and picked up lunch from everyone’s favorite sandwich shop in town. They set up a big table and with chairs right along a local pond. This opportunity enabled us to finally communicate in-person as a team, which clarified how genuine, confident, and passionate each individual is about Voices. Each member of the team described their personal experience with the organization, but we also talked about other subjects more relevant to current events. I respect their authority very much, but I also feel comfortable engaging in timely conversations that I would have with a friend.

In terms of inspirational motivation, the Voices mission in itself is symbolic of activism and advocacy, given the fact that it is a nonprofit organization. Thus, it is obvious that each member of the team shares core values, such as helping others, empathy, and kindness, that enable us all to work together in a collaborative, productive environment. When hearing the directors discuss these values and the overall mission, it motivates me to work harder to benefit the greater community through our efforts.

In addition to inspirational motivation, the leadership style at Voices of September 11th encourages us to often think about scenarios that we have not been exposed to. For example, the organization is participating in an initiative called the Canada Project, which essentially is an effort to understand the Canadian Victim Services system and to provide recommendations to its government. Collaborating on this project has caused me to think about legal systems outside of the U.S. and to focus on a subject that I have never thought about before – victims and their support services. Throughout this project, I have listened to interviews with different officials in the Canadian legal system, which has enabled me to question my own views about both Canada but also legal systems as a whole (within the U.S. and outside of it).

Thus, each of these elements contributes to the Voices mission as a whole. From my experience so far, I have appreciated this leadership style and feel very engaged and motivated to produce my best work.