The shifting context of Western social structures and global inter-relatedness demands leaders who can effectively navigate systems through chaos. This study hypothesized that wisdom is the construct that enables leaders to "see" and thus interpret a beneficial path of action. The purpose of the study was to explore how psychological wisdom theory relates to transformational leadership.
The historical Jesus served as the model for this relationship. Using Biblical historical criticism, an analysis was done of Jesus' wisdom in the Jewish wisdom tradition. Jesus' wisdom was then compared to the features of psychological wisdom. Both deal with contradictions and change, exhibit exceptional judgment and understanding, and demonstrate communication and relationship skills. Jesus' wisdom further clarified that wisdom functions best in conflict situations and that wisdom has an individual voice.
Using Biblical social-scientific criticism, those sayings and parables recognized by historical Jesus scholars as authentic were used to analyze Jesus' leadership in first century Palestine. A comparison of Jesus' leadership to transformational leadership revealed a close affinity. Jesus "saw" the limitations of his social system, and he had a comprehensive vision and a focused passion for its renewal. Jesus' leadership further suggested that effective transformational leaders find the source of their identity and security in a spiritual relationship.
Conclusions were drawn by comparing the wisdom features and the transformational leadership features illustrated in the historical Jesus. First, wisdom and transformational leadership share certain factors. They both deal with ambiguity and change, are most beneficial during chaos, have effective communication and relationship skills, consider individual needs, and stimulate maturation in others. Second, the study found that wisdom clarifies "how" transformational leadership functions during chaos and change. The wisdom leadership of Jesus suggests that wise, transformational leaders have these additional features: (1) a paradoxical view of reality, allowing them to see limitations and new perspectives; (2) an individual voice able to give guidance for change; (3) a vision for renewal that is aware of moral impact and sourced in a spiritual identity; and ( 4) a comprehensive vision, impacting the renewal of many aspects of a social system.
Morse, MaryKate, "The Relationship of Wisdom to Transformational Leadership: Illustrated by the Historical Jesus" (1996). Faculty Publications - Portland Seminary. 48.