Transformational Leadership in Constructing the Temple
The following post is adapted from my personal academic coursework.
Transformational Leadership in Constructing the Temple
Merida noted that King Solomon reigned “over Israel during a time of great prosperity…, …a season of peace, great wealth, remarkable literature, and worldwide fame.” The Bible further describes the prosperity of his reign in 1 Kings 4:20-21, 24-25: “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing. So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life... …and he had peace on every side around him. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon. The Bible goes on to tell that King Solomon “was wiser than all men” (1 Kings 4:31) and that “men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:34).
King Solomon’s Leadership
Perhaps King Solomon’s most important accomplishment was the construction of the temple, an endeavor characterized by transformational leadership. Northouse stated that transformational leaders “attempt to raise the consciousness in individuals and to get them to transcend their own self-interests for the sake of others.” While this is evident throughout King Solomon’s reign over the united monarchy of Israel, it is most notable in his leadership over the construction of the temple. Northouse also highlighted the four factors of transformational leadership: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. King Solomon utilized all four of these factors during the temple construction as well. King Solomon’s attempt to inspire his followers to transcend their self-interests for the sake of others and his exhibition of the four factors are evidence that he is a transformational leader.
Transcendence of Self-Interest
While Israel’s peace, prosperity, and safety during Solomon’s reign were all in the nation’s self-interest, the construction of the temple stands out as a selfless act. Solomon built the temple as “a house for the name of the Lord [his] God” (1 Kings 5:5); this was not a building for any selfish purpose. Merida pointed out that “Solomon’s temple stood for four centuries, and it was the only building the people rebuilt after the exile.” Not only did the Israelites build the temple for God and not men, they also built it to last for centuries and not just their own generation. In this way also, the construction of the temple was a project which transcended self-interest in favor of others—namely God and the Hebrew posterity.
Høstrup and Andersen stated that “Through transformational leadership, a vision can infuse day-to-day activities with purpose and inspire employees to transcend their own self-interest and contribute to the realization of the desirable future described by the vision.” King Solomon demonstrated this in articulating his vision to build the temple. Because of the vision King Solomon cast, those involved in the temple’s construction (and by extension the subsequent post-exilic reconstruction) worked “heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23).
Four Factors of Transformational Leadership
King Solomon exhibited idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration during the construction of the temple.
Judge and Piccolo found that idealized influence is the most valid and generalizable factor with regard to “its effects on followers’ job satisfaction, leader satisfaction and motivation as well as leaders’ job performance and group or organization performance.” Northouse stated that leaders exhibiting idealized influence “provide followers with a vision and a sense of mission.” King Solomon demonstrated idealized influence in his casting of the vision for the construction of the temple.
Northouse described inspirational motivation as a technique by which leaders inspire their followers through motivation to commit to the organization’s shared vision. Wu et al. found that “group-focused leadership, consisting of idealized influence and inspirational motivation, positively influenced group identification and collective efficacy among followers.” King Solomon used motivation to inspire 183,300 Israelites (1 Kings 5:13-16) and the Sidonian lumberjacks (1 Kings 5:6) to commit to accomplish his vision for the temple.
King Solomon’s intellectual stimulation is evident in his relationship with King Hiram of Tyre. Northouse explained that intellectual stimulation “stimulates followers to be creative and innovative.” Thuan stated that “Leader intellectual stimulation enhances follower intrinsic motivation, which leads to improving levels of creative performance.” King Solomon requested that King Hiram provide him with timber for the temple, but left King Hiram to solve the problem of how to transport it from Tyre to Jerusalem. In doing so, King Solomon stimulated King Hiram to “be creative and innovative” and use his enhanced intrinsic motivation to solve the problem himself.
Koveshnikov and Ehrnrooth state that individualized consideration and idealized influence are the most influential transformational leadership factors. This additional influence may be related to the connection Cho and Dansereau found between individualized consideration, interpersonal justice, and follower behavior. Northouse explained that individualized consideration is when leaders consider “the individual needs of followers.” King Solomon exemplified individualized consideration in his decision to rotate the laborers in Lebanon (1 Kings 5:14). It seems that it would have been more efficient to keep a group of men in Lebanon until the work was finished, but King Solomon allowed the men two months at home for every month they spent in Lebanon. He likely understood that each of these men had a need to be at home and with family. This act of ensuring equity communicated interpersonal justice to the workers and probably led to a happier and more productive labor force.
King Solomon was a transformational leader who inspired his followers to transcend their self-interests and utilized all four factors of transformational leadership. Through his leadership, his followers were able to build something greater than themselves—a house for the name of God. Northouse wrote that transformational leadership ranges from “very specific attempts to influence followers on a one-to-one level, to very broad attempts to influence whole organizations and even entire cultures.” King Solomon’s influence during the construction of the temple likewise ranged from numerous individual interactions to a cultural transformation. The result of this leadership endeavor was a temple which lasted for centuries, which the Jews rebuilt after the Babylonian exile, and which remains architecturally, historically, and theologically relevant today. This accomplishment is truly transformative.
Holy Bible, New King James Version. (2020). Thomas Nelson (Original work published 1982).
Høstrup, M. & Andersen, L. B. (2020). Leading to make a difference for whom? How vision content moderates the relationship between transformational leadership and public service motivation. International Public Management Journal, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/10967494.2020.1795015
Koveshnikov, A. & Ehrnrooth, M. (2018). The cross-cultural variation of the effects of transformational leadership behaviors on followers’ organizational identification: The case of idealized and influence and individualized consideration in Finland and Russia. Management and Organization Review, 14(4), 747-779. https://doi.org/10.1017/mor.2018.27
Merida, T. (2015). Christ-centered exposition commentary: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings. B&H Publishing Group.
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice (8th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.
Thuan, L. C. (2019). Motivating follower creativity by offering intellectual stimulation. International Journal of Organizational Analysis (2005), 28(4), 817-829. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-06-2019-1799