Transformative Leadership

Transformative Leadership

Published: Sep 30, 2015
Publisher: The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program
Associated Project

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program Learning Partnership

Time frame: 2012-2017

Prepared for:

Mastercard Foundation


Clemencia Cosentino

Key Findings

Key Findings:

  • Partners define transformative leadership in many ways, but their perspectives can be synthesized into the following definition: Transformative leadership is the act of engaging others in an ethical manner to generate positive and lasting change.
  • According to the partners, transformative leaders share many core competencies—abilities and skills they naturally possess or develop with practice—that enable them to achieve the positive and lasting changes they seek in their communities. Partners cited the following as the top five competencies: effective communication, empathy, introspection, clear vision, and integrity. 
  • Although Scholars may already demonstrate leadership potential upon their selection, partners recognize that leadership competencies must be nurtured through ongoing programming. Across the program, partners offer Scholars a wide array of activities and supports. These can be grouped into three fundamental categories: (1) instruction, (2) modeling, and (3) practicing.
At the 2014 MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program Global Convening in Pretoria, South Africa, program partners (mostly universities and non-governmental organizations) formed a working group to develop a common framework to anchor partners’ leadership development efforts and foster common elements in programming across organizations collaborating in the program. Based on telephone interviews with all 23 program partners, this brief presents partners’ views on transformative leadership and their efforts to develop Scholars’ leadership skills. First, we present partners’ definitions of transformative leadership and perspectives on the core competencies of such leaders. Next, we summarize partners’ leadership programming, discuss current gaps, and note key opportunities for future development.

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