Transformation – Robert Quinn's "Normal State of Leadership"

Robert Quinn’s 2004 book, Building the Bridge As You Walk On It : A Guide for Leading Change suggests that organizational transformation follows personal transformation. His description of the moment a leader moves from a “normal state of leadership” to what he calls a “fundamental state of leadership” reminds me of language we use to describe a “born again” conversion state – or achieving enlightenment (satori) in the Zen tradition. It is like a work of grace falling upon the believer, not by works but a divine gift, which likewises instantly causes a corresponding transformation in the organization.

Quinn’s “normal state of leadership” facilitates ongoing decline. Quinn identifies this death spiral as having having four interactive components:

Comfort-Centered: I tend to engage in problem


Internally Closed

Externally Directed:




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