Strategic Influence

Extraordinary Educators: Influencing the Vision into Reality

Strategic Influence

In a previous opportunity, the team of Extraordinary Educators (EE) had the privilege of interviewing Marcelo Warkentin, one of the founders and current principal of La Misión, a school in Paraguay. Newly established in 2013, the school has room for improvement and Warkentin is excited to help his organization benefit from the reflections and opportunities developed as a result of the interview with the team of EE. The discussion in this chapter allows for the evaluation of the current strategic influence of the organization, presentation of the future hope for this school’s influence, and will highlight possible suggestions for improvement.

Strategic Influences Impacting La Misión

Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie (2014) define strategic influence as the means by which a leader engenders commitment to the organization’s strategic process (Hughes et al., 2014). To sustain competitive advantage in today’s competitive and dynamic business market, commitment to strategic learning and direction is essential (Hughes et al., 2014). “Strategic influence is engendering commitment to the organization’s strategic direction by inviting others into the strategic process, forging relationships inside and outside the organization, and using organizational culture and systems of influence” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 55). As seen in figure 2.1 of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis (Oberle, Warkentin, Zhang, & Hinksman, 2018), there are threats to La Misión that could impede achievement of the mission and vision of the school. “The complex, chaotic environment in which organizations operate makes it difficult for their leaders to set a plan, get others onboard, and implement a strategy in some lockstep fashion” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 123). Successfully leading an organization through changes and times of uncertainty, the leader must adapt quickly to change and help followers adapt as well. “Leading them through strategic influence is a never-ending quest” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 123).

Hughes et al. (2014), outline the necessary skills for strategic influence which include, “building trust, managing the political landscape, spanning boundaries, involving others, connecting at an emotional level, and building and sustaining momentum” ( p. 135). In the SWOT analysis and interview process, many of the strategic influence skills were evident, but some skills may be targeted as possible areas for improvement (Oberle et al., 2018).

Inside Influences

As previously stated, Hughes et al. (2014) write that strategic influence involves “forging relationships inside and outside the organization” (p. 55). The inside influences to La Misión include the building of leadership groups, engaging students in leadership opportunities, increasing parent involvement and participation, providing scheduled teacher collaboration time, supporting targeted teacher training, and inner circle sharing.

Lepsinger (2010) states, “effective leaders spend time with direct reports and colleagues to get to know them better and relate to them as individuals. This process presents opportunities to build mutual respect and trust that will provide the basis for a cooperative working relationship” (p. 54). Warkentin builds trust by showing empathy towards staff, listening, holding frequent meetings and discussion where people are free to discuss concerns. Warkentin has developed a leadership roundtable team within the school which is open to any staff member. The team frequently meets to discuss leadership, including how they will lead, who they are leading, and where they are leading. He shows a commitment to building a community of trust by truly caring for individual needs of staff. For example, on days where students are not present, but staff is still working, Warkentin provides lunch for his staff members, and they take time to eat together. His dedication to caring for his staff members not only shows that he values building relationships of trust, but also that he is a servant leader.

In the SWOT analysis (Oberle et al., 2018) it was mentioned the staff may still be experiencing some feelings of distrust. “Influencing others strategically is virtually impossible if you don’t have trust in your relationships” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 135). Warkentin recognizes this as an area for improvement in strategic influence. The staff does not have a high level of job security, and because of this, they feel insecure about discussing all topics, especially difficult ones, including discussions around critical feedback for the school. Principal Warkentin has also noticed some difficult topics regarding personal lives among staff members including, marriage difficulties or providing care and stability for extended families. “Many people have broken spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional hurts. Although this is a part of being human, servant leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to help make whole those with whom they come in contact” (Spears, 2010, p. 27). His recognition of these problems on staff and the desire to find ways to help his staff with these problems demonstrates a value of building trust, showing empathy, and being a servant leader. While Mr. Warkentin spends time with colleagues, shows “reflective listening” (Lepsinger, 2010, p. 117) and works hard to build a supportive environment, he expresses concern in the level of trust among staff and feels this may be an area for improvement.

“The nature of strategic leadership involves bringing about change amid diverse and often contradictory opinions, so uncertainty abounds, and the political landscape is a very real element of the strategic leader’s life” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 140). Principal Warkentin works to manage the political landscape by keeping focus on the mission, vision and Christian values of the school. “Knowing who you are, why you do what you do, and how your behavior affects others is critical to ensuring that you are operating with the organization’s best interests in mind” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 141). He communicates effectively to keep all of the staff, parents, community members and students focused and aligned with the same mission and vision. “In communicating to others, speak about long-term issues that are fundamental to the organization and how your ideas help achieve these. Letting people know you are striving for the same outcome as they will help them to connect to your proposals” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 141). Hughes et al. (2014), suggest communicating the end goal and showing results along the way can help with navigating through difficult political landscapes by keeping people motivated and committed to the organization. Through servant leadership and strategic influence, principal Warkentin guides all stakeholders through the political landscapes.

In a politically unstable country, it is crucial for La Misión to carefully navigate the political landscape to maintain strategic advantage. “Leaders who are not politically skilled come off as manipulative or self-serving” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 70). This is true of many leaders in Paraguay. There is a negative and suspicious view of political behaviours in Paraguay. La Misión is diligent in their work to manage political landscapes without gaining this negative reputation. The Christian values of La Misión provide opportunity to navigate the political landscape in a way that communicates they are serving with others’ best interests at heart which is an important practice in transformational servant leadership. Being an integrous leader is having, “the ability to disregard personal desires and appetites when they conflict with well thought out and internalized values” (Mitchell, Strong, Willaume & Wu, 2017, p. 47).  The students who graduate from La Misión will be entering into the workforce with Christian values and will easily see the flaws in the Paraguayan political structure. As the values of  La Misión are influencing more people, hopefully, change will occur in the flawed political landscape in Paraguay. Part of strategic influence is knowing how people are connected (Hughes et al., 2014) including knowing opponents, allies and how they align. Spears (2010), defines this as having a sense of awareness. “General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant-leader. Awareness helps one in understanding issues involving ethics, power, and values” ( p. 27). A leader must “be able to see and understand other perspectives, and be patient and persistent to continue influencing as strategic initiatives unfold” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 124).

External Influences

Principal Warkentin accesses many different possible resources to expand boundaries and involve other people in the process of strategic influence. They are building relationships with community members to maintain a quality reputation and competitive advantage. They have worked diligently at establishing a connection with the local Department of Education by attending their meetings, inviting them to school events and giving them year-end gifts which is very important in the culture. La Misión also works at establishing relationships with other schools. They reached out to local schools and have even had some of La Misión’s students volunteer at other schools. La Misión works at establishing relationships with local business whom they count on for financial support by sending them personalized thank you cards, inviting them to events, and visiting them.

By building relationships with valuable businesses and departments within the community, they begin to make connections, as well as a sense of a shared vision. Building community and a sense of shared vision is an essential practice in strategic influence and also transformational servant leadership. “TSL practice offers motivation to change followers as well as organizations through shared aspiration.” (Mitchell et al., 2017, p. 47). This is a common ground in which

“they share in common in the service of the strategic transformation. One practice here is connecting, that is, building trust between the groups by providing opportunities for them to get to know each other better. Another practice is mobilizing, or developing a sense of shared purpose by exploring how they both fit into the larger picture of the strategic transformation” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 145).

“Strategic direction, alignment, and implementation require tremendous amounts of persistence and effort, demanding commitment from the heart” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 150). When people develop a commitment from the heart, they connect on an emotional level. Kotter (2011), discusses the importance of feelings and suggests they are perhaps more important than thinking in bringing about meaningful change. Mr. Warkentin engages emotions by clearly demonstrating his passion for the school and the vision, building a supportive environment through truly valuing all staff, community members and families involved in the school and by making people feel involved. “Creating value for the community is one way for leaders to link the purposes and goals of an organization with the broader purposes of the community” (Northouse, 2103, p. 159).

Hughes et al. (2014) write, “engendering the commitment with others begins by learning what is important to them” (p. 151). Principal Warkentin accomplished this by recognizing and valuing the needs of staff and families within the school and offering his support for those needs. He built concrete connections with people and made them feel important to the school and its mission and vision. By inviting community members and stakeholders to events, they can see the differences they are helping to make in the lives of local youth. Hughes et al. (2014) discuss the need for stakeholders to bear witness to progress evident in the organization.  “Having aspirations for a different and better future allows work to have purpose and meaning, as people want to feel that their efforts are making a positive difference” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 152). Mr. Warkentin and his strategic influence team value the culture of the community. Hughes et al. suggest strategic leaders can capture the hearts of people when they, “enliven their language through the power of stories, metaphors, and images, as these elements of language have staying power beyond the traditional rational and analytical descriptions of the future” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 153). It is important for the community to vividly see the cultural values and liveliness of the culture within the school. Building community, an important characteristic of a transformational servant leader, establishes a sense of membership and connectedness by creating meaning and purpose for members of the organization (Mitchell et al., 2017, p. 47).

“Strategic influence is not a one-time event; rather, it is a process that begins with the foundation of understanding yourself and forming relationships with others and continues through to building and sustaining momentum in the midst of strategic change (Hughes et al., 2014, pp. 154-155). Mr. Warkentin suggests some possible opportunities for improvement in sustaining momentum of La Misión. He proposes continuing to build relationships with other schools by possibly inviting them to some of La Misión’s events such as science fairs or other cultural events. Continuing to build trust among staff through increasing the frequency of strategic influence meetings and opportunities for accessing support resources for staff are part of Warkentin’s staff enhancement strategy.  He also understands the need for educating parents to further their skills and education as well as their understanding of leadership and the schools mission and vision.  The leadership team is considering the possibility of hiring a community relations expert to join the staff to continue the development of capturing the hearts of valuable stakeholders to La Misión. Ulrich and Smallwood (2013) state effective leaders need to “establish their organization’s reputation by becoming active community citizens” (p. 10). La Misión offers basic skill training sessions to parents in the community in the evenings where they participate in baking, crafts, and art lessons; it is interesting to note that over 50% of the parents who attend these evening training sessions do not have children who attend La Misión. “The servant leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual within his or her organization” (Spears, 2010, p. 29). Warkentin truly demonstrates a desire to serve the needs of all stakeholders.

“Skill in exercising strategic influence tactics and building momentum for the strategic initiative also requires a combination of reflection and analysis to better understand where, when, and why this skill should be applied” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 157). Warkentin’s strategic influence team meets every week to discuss the influence of the organization and how they can improve for the future.

“Being successful in the strategic influence process requires that people trust you” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 132) includes all stakeholders to the organization, not just members of staff. La Misión relies on valuable financial support from local businesses. The strategic leadership team must ensure all stakeholders in La Misión continue to recognize a need for this school within the community, so the reward for their commitment to the organization is greater than the risk.

“By allowing themselves to be influenced, they are changing their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in ways that you request. There is a level of vulnerability they are likely to feel as they follow you and your direction. In short, you must be trustworthy in your motivation, your concern for them and the organization, and your competence so that they are willing to let you take them and the organization to a place that is different (and better) from where they are today” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 132).

Strategic influencing cannot be isolated from strategic thinking and strategic acting. For example, becoming clear about your passions is similar to how organizations become clear about their key drivers. In this case, however, the clarity you are seeking is for yourself, not your organization; you cannot have that kind of clarity for yourself without engaging in some significant strategic thinking. Similarly, being very deliberate about building your relationships with others requires reflection to understand and invest in unnatural relationships, as well as to find your way through the political landscape and keep your credibility intact (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 157).

Present and Future Strategic Influences within La Misión

Strategic influencing requires more than persuasive skills to achieve far-reaching impact while being open to influence through self-reflection and acknowledging areas for personal change (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 149). Having achieved its first five years of operating as the only Christian school in Juan Eulogio Estigarribia, La Misión’s leadership team recognizes its potential for influencing and is now developing a plan for strategic influence through specific planning and acting.  The following newspaper article (Exhibit 1.1) reflects the far reaching results the leadership team hopes to generate through continued strategic thinking, planning, acting, and influencing.

Exhibit 1.1


Tragedy turned triumph lead to thankfulness

Local Christian school graduate impacts health recovery for former principal

MARCELO WARKENTIN

TWU Press

This past weekend my wife and I, and our two kids were on our way to the Asunción. As we neared the city, our car was side-swiped by an oncoming truck. The car flipped before landing right side up at the side of the road. My wife, my son and I were able to get out of the car, but our ten-year-old daughter was unconscious and could not be moved. Someone witnessed the accident, called the ambulance, and in a short time we on our way to the local hospital in the outskirts of Asunción.

People at the hospital were very professional, and caring tended to Gabriela. After the doctor had done the initial checkup, he calmed us, affirming that Gabriela was stable and would recover shortly. She had not suffered any severe injury.

Through the whole rush, I noticed a very young doctor assistant helping and caring for Gabriela. Initially, she did not look familiar, but she later walked over to us, took her

mask off and to my surprise it was one of our former students, Mariana. I could hardly believe it!

Five years ago, Mariana finished her high school at La Misión. She was an excellent student, but since her family had no financial means for further education, it was impossible for her to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. La Misión had already awarded her a full scholarship through four years of high school and did not foresee any possibility of further helping her.

At the time, as our leadership team discussed Mariana’s case, we took our concern to the school board. The board, touched by her story, made further contact with a local church where we were able to find a sponsor willing to invest in Mariana´s future. The sponsor provided her with full support, and she was able to live and study in Asunción.

Here I was, five years later, at an emergency room with my daughter, being cared for by a young doctors’ assistant who was in the process of accomplishing her dream.

My daughter was in stable condition, and two days later we were able to leave the hospital and go home. Throughout the two days, we saw Mariana several times, as she stopped by to see Gabriela.

I left the hospital grateful that Mariana was part of La Misión and I was part of this process of seeing a student with no financial resources achieving her highest dream. La Misión transforms children through Christian education.


 

Leadership Qualities for Effective Influencing

Principal Warkentin is increasingly aware of how good strategic decisions are equal parts of knowing what to do and what not to do. “Strategy requires clarity of focus” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 112). The power of La Misión is in strict adherence to its “brand” embedded in its mission to enhance the quality of the students’ lives through their education and the vision to provide a holistic quality Christian education to every child which distinguishes it from the other schools in their city.  Most importantly, Warkentin embraces the need to continue building trust between his staff, his leadership, and the surrounding community because trust is vital for influencing others. Understanding “trust is both built and broken on small subtle acts and common mistakes” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 163), Warkentin is open to self-assessment and suggestions for further development of his strategic influencing skills.  He ranked his dimensions of leader expectations from highest tendencies to lowest in the following order:

  1. Team oriented – builds and manages cohesive teams.
  2. Participative – shares power and decision making.
  3. Charismatic – inspires others around a vision with high performance standards.
  4. Human-Oriented – supportive, compassionate, and considerate leadership.
  5. Authority oriented – uses status and position to influence others.
  6. Autonomous – independent, individualistic, and self-reliant.
  7. Face-Saving – maintains harmony by avoiding negatives and indirect communication.

(adapted from Exhibit 4.2 in Hughes et al., 2014, p. 159)

Personal evaluation of his Strategic Influencing Skills according to Hughes et al.’s Exhibit 4.3 (2014, pp. 160-162) revealed to Principal Warkentin several areas requiring attention.  His average score for strategic influencing sits in the middle with eight areas requiring moderate improvement and one area needing significant improvement. Warkentin now recognizes the value of building a network of relationships with people not directly connected with his every day work responsibilities.  He is, however, confidently pleased with his ability to create connections across diverse groups, openly discussing difficult topics, drawing people to the vision of La Misión through his stories, and recognizing employees furthering the mission, vision, and values (MVV) of the school.  With this information, Warkentin is beginning conversations with the leadership of the school on how to embed strategic thinking and influencing to strengthen the school’s academic and faith-based goals at every level of the organization.

Extending Influence by Networking

Strategic influence is most effective when applied through a series of networked relationships.  Following a strategic plan makes it easier to prepare for change with a broader vision than just the immediate moment.  Hughes et al. suggest network mapping as an effective way to plan for opinions and opposition which might limit or derail organizational momentum.  It will also reveal those benefiting from the decisions and those with power to assist in future development (2014, p. 174).

“Strategic leaders must not just get individuals to align with their vision; they must also ignite disparate groups to work together because strategy is reflected in the coherence and alignment of the collective actions of groups across the organization and even outside the organization.” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 175)

Principal Warkentin acknowledges the occasionally tenuous relationships existing among his culturally diverse staff.  Creating collaborative opportunities takes careful crafting of experiences and meetings to build common ground between groups.  Making boundaries explicit could be a helpful practice in developing a shared purpose (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 176).  Involving others takes more time, but it can yield more significant results given the exponential effect of strengthening leadership skills in staff members who in turn develop the strategic thinking, planning, and acting ability of the students who attend La Misión.

Influencing Through Emotional Awareness

Studying methods for developing his strategic leadership skills made Warkentin notice further opportunities for strategic influence in his organization. Building up adults while also fostering leadership skills in students takes careful planning and intense commitment to consistency in examining personal practice. Engaging people’s hearts to work strategically in an organization can happen through the power of storytelling (Hughes, 2014, p. 186). To help his culturally diverse staff connect to the MVV of La Misión, Mr. Warkentin needs to ask his staff what kind of story they are hoping to create through their involvement with La Misión.  Visioning the potential outcome of their year with the organization can potentially generate more wholehearted commitment to collaboration with each other. Recognizing the interconnectedness of all the stories among the staff can influence deeper relationships and thoughtful interactions for building up the whole organization (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 187).  “Strategic direction, alignment, and implementation require tremendous amounts of persistence and effort, demanding commitment from the heart” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 184).

The news story in Figure 1.1 holds the hope and anticipation of La Misión’s influence in the individual lives of its students who will graduate and have strategic influence in the world beyond the school walls.  There is so much potential for positive impact that Principal Warkentin is more aware of the overlap in strategic thinking, planning, acting, and influencing (Hughes et al., 2014, p.195).  He recognizes many small opportunities exist in the simple, every day interactions he has with his staff, and how this can impact students in every grade.  Could their stories all be as powerful as Mariana’s?  Possibly.  Could each student reflect the Christian principles through their personal spheres of influence? Definitely! Recognizing individual progress and alignment in his staff and students will provide Warkentin with clarity for reducing distractions, consider the perspectives of others, and assist him in developing a plan to encourage and reinforce the school culture his leadership team envisions.

Organizational Design Facilitates Strategic Influence

Continued growth in La Misión school requires flexibility with rather quick responses to changing educational situations. As previously described, retaining staff, hiring new staff, finding sponsorship for impoverished students, creating leadership opportunities for faculty and students, and becoming a more proactive partner with local public schools demands strategic thinking and acting. The best organizational design to facilitate such fluidity while maintaining the instructional integrity is the reconfigurable functional organization as described in Designing Organizations by Galbraith (2014, p. 131).

Demonstrating Reconfigurability

Galbraith states, “The structure of the reconfigurable organization consists of a stable part and a changing part” (2014, p. 140). While La Misión is not churning out tangible, objective products making it necessary to create profit margins and eliminate business competition, it is providing the services by which the surrounding can profit or benefit from its educated, spiritually strengthened youth. The stable part of La Misión is the educational structure which is part of most schools, including both an active academic program and consistent spiritual training to students as young as 4-years old through to graduation. It provides a higher level of academic instruction than the local schools and hires instructors who can assist the school in maintaining consistently high standards.

All the systems required to enhance this stability are already in place since this is necessary for ongoing educational consistency: information acquisition, goal-setting, accounting, data collection, and planning structure. La Misión has not underestimated the importance of stability in these processes knowing that “constant change brings constant conflict” (Galbraith, 2014, p. 142).  With this stability, the leaders of La Misión—and more specifically Principal Warkentin—can focus on creating strategic influence in areas of this organization with greater tendency to fluctuate. A strong management team can integrate all necessary factors to provide strategic initiative in setting priorities, allocating resources, and preventing or resolving inevitable conflicts which result from continued change (Galbraith, 2014, p. 143). The demands and expectations placed on an organization in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA), “leaders must make continuous shifts in people, processes, technology, and structure” (Ungerer et al., 2016, p. 4).

Maintaining integrity within the organization is vital for enabling reconfiguration to the parts of the school which need adjustment. Honesty is critical in avoiding the ethical lapses that sink organizations (Schachter, 2018). Decisions to change elements of La Misión’s practice must continue to align with the organizational MVV (Oberle et al., 2018). When all factors keep the mission and vision at the forefront of each new venture, growth, and change to proceed with as little friction as possible (Galbraith, 2018, p. 132). Being aware of how each small shift can have broader impact throughout the organization creates a platform of trust among the employees who can rely on encouragement and support when adopting new practice. Inviting employees to participate in generating ideas for change will positively augment their acceptance and involvement in continual changes.

Capability for Reconfigurability

Two elements of the reconfigurable organization evident at La Misión are cross-functional teams (Galbraith, 2014, p. 133) and forming partnerships to meet its needs where it cannot do it alone (Galbraith, 2014, p. 134). Warkentin works with a variety of teams to gain broad-based vision and understanding of his school’s functioning. Meeting with teachers in their departments, school board meetings, community engagement, support staff included in staff meetings, and other networking practices provides everyone with the opportunity to be involved in developing school culture rather than have it imposed on them. The partnerships created in the first five years of operation found their culmination in the first-ever graduating class celebrating their commencement ceremony in 2018. As La Misión leaders forge ahead with strategic planning for the next five years, they are aware of involving their business, community, and faith partners.

Flexibility in adapting to necessary changes is part of La Misión’s growth plan. They can choose to re-allocate some of their resources as needed throughout each school year. However, a reconfigurable organization should also have flexibility in applying financial resources (Galbraith, 2014, p. 133) which is not as possible in an educational organization during the school year. La Misión is accountable to their School Board for developing a budget each school year based on the tuition per student, contributions from stakeholders, and some investments from the founding business organizations. The school’s leadership is keenly aware of how these accumulated financial resources are implementing the MVV of La Misión. As a not-for-profit organization, financial flexibility is limited and transparently accountable which prevents swift response to a changing environment.

People and Rewards

An educational institution’s greatest asset is its people: staff, students, parents, leadership, and the broader community from which the students come. While La Misión continues to replace staff members each year (Oberle, 2018), it does so to maintain a high academic standard effectively and to align more thoroughly with its MVV. They are moving toward stability through their hiring practices and by providing in-house training for teachers and support staff who require professional development. The leadership pays staff for their participation in training which occurs outside of the regular work day hours and will provide funding for professional development to teachers who show leadership awareness within their departments. As Galbraith says, “The reward system needs to be augmented to encourage employees to look for the win-win outcome” (2014, p. 173).

As the leaders of La Misión evaluate their first five years of operation and plan for the next five years, they are looking to create an environment where teachers begin to work in teams and become involved in problem-solving and conflict resolution.  Teaching can be an isolating profession since everyone works in separate classrooms every day; competition can easily consume opportunities for collaboration creating separation instead of cohesion. Mutual cooperation produces responses in people similar to the reaction they have when they receive rewards (Lepsinger, 2010, p. 170) which could be leveraged to craft cooperative opportunities in safe ways. People may tend to cooperation rather than competition, but collaboration is a more fragile construct (Lepsinger, 2010, p. 171).  Exposing all staff members to the counter-cultural practice of making others better is a relational focus resulting in interpersonal networks (Galbraith, 2014, p. 145).  A reconfigurable organization is one in which “training is continuous and targeted at cross-unit participants” (Galbraith, 2014, p. 145).

Counting the Cost

Developing staff, promoting counter-cultural practices, and maintaining steadfast adherence to a faith-based MVV while providing some flexibility as a reconfigurable organization produces costs. Time is an unavoidable cost for pursuing necessary, planned changes in any organization.  A school environment is slow in adapting to changing conditions due to its people-oriented structure.  Change is hard; people are tender. Demonstrating empathy for personal situations can help to build trust for when the leaders will require professional changes (Lepsinger, 2010, p. 159).  Providing the right scaffolding to support inevitable change takes time which impacts the reconfigurability of an educational organization.  It also requires “a significant investment in recruiting and training” (Galbraith, 2014, p. 147).

La Misión cannot reorganize any way it chooses but like a glacier inevitably alters the natural landscape, it will slowly but surely transform the educational landscape of Juan Eulogio Estigarribia.  It has a “top management team that sees its value added as designing and supporting the organization’s reconfigurability” (Galbraith, 2014, p. 148).  While being in continual reconfiguration mode presents many potential problems, La Misión is sure and confident in its MVV and focuses on developing its interpersonal relationships professionally, allocating resources thoughtfully, and developing leaders scripturally.

Conclusion

“Strategic influence is not a one-time event; rather it is a process that begins with the foundation of understanding yourself and forming relationships with others and continues through to building and sustaining momentum in the midst of strategic change” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 190).  Principal Warkentin and the leadership team of La Misión are making pointed decisions to apply strategic influence through transformational servant leadership throughout their organization to build up and retain the right people on staff, provide high quality education to students, and exert their influence in the local community.  They are capable of reconfiguring areas for greater strategic operation.  Their next five-year plan will focus on strengthening the strategic influence they established from the beginning of La Misión and encourage everyone, building them up just as they are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

References

Galbraith, J. R. (2014). Designing organizations: Strategy, structure, and process at the business unit and enterprise levels. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hughes, R., Beatty, K., & Dinwoodie, D. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader: Your role in your organization’s enduring success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Lepsinger, R. (2010). Closing the execution gap: How great leaders and their companies get results. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Mitchell, K., Strong, H., Williaume, D. & Wu, T. (2017). Leadership competency framework. Unpublished manuscript. Master of Arts in Leadership. Trinity Western University: Langley, Canada.

Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Oberle, S., Warkentin, M., Zhang, L., & Hinksman, S. (November 2018). La Misión: Transforming education in Paraguay. Retrieved from https://books.twu.ca/strategic-discoveries/?post_type=chapter&p=701

Schachter, H. (March 26, 2017) Monday morning manager: Why leaders need to have integrity. (Updated) The Globe & Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/management/the-importance-of-integrity/article14167037/

Spears, L. C. (2010). Character and servant leadership: Ten characteristics of effective, caring leaders. The Journal of Virtues & Leadership, 1(1), 25-30.

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