Importance of Leadership in Managing Change

Importance of Leadership in Managing Change Words: 2640

This assignment will analytically assess the statement “Leadership is the most important factor in Managing Change”. Firstly it will look at defining leadership, and will make a comparison of leadership versus management. It will discuss the importance of leadership and its role in managing change. The essay will consider the strength and weaknesses of the current theories and models exploring the leadership impact on change within organizations. The essay will also consider the key principles to change management as well as the reason why we experience resistance to change within organizations.

It will outline key theory in relation to both successful and non-successful change management implementation and will also consider some process and solution to overcoming the common error in change management. Armstrong (2011) defines leadership as “… The process of setting direction and ensuring that the members of the leader’s organization or team give of their best to achieve the desired result. It is about getting people to go where you want them to go, gaining their commitment, and motivating them to achieve their goals.

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Armstrong believes that leadership has three essential roles, which focus on defining the task, achieving the task and maintaining effective relationship. P. 117) Leadership is the act of guiding, directing and mentoring a group or another individual to achieve a shared goal. When looking at leadership versus management Grind notes that management is traditionally about ‘executing routines and maintaining organizational stability where as ‘leadership is concerned with direction setting, with novelty and is essentially linked to change, movement and persuasion’ (Grind 2005 POP).

In smaller organizations, especially third sector organizations the delineation of roles may not be as distinct as this suggests; they may be more blurred and interchangeable. Adair suggests that ‘leadership and management are different concepts but they overlap very considerably and that the overlap is increasing (Adair 2009 Change however, remains crucial and linked to survival for any business. Adair also says that leadership and change are linked and he goes on to say that ‘change throws up the need for leaders, and leaders tend to create change’ (Adair 2009 POP).

He goes as far as to say that ‘leaders like change’ (Adair 2009 POP). This can be linked with Cotter (1990) who sites that leadership is establishing direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring, and producing change (p. 6). There have been many definitions of leadership. Yuk (2002:4-5) argues that the definition of leadership is “arbitrary and very subjective”. According to Grind (2010) leadership “means different things to different people” (2010:4). Grind says that we might simply be able to define leadership as “Having followers”.

He doesn’t believe that we need to agree on one simple definition of leadership, but that the consensus of definitions seem to hang around four areas of dispute; leadership defines as position or person or result or process. The organizational culture literature reminds Importance of Leadership in Managing Change By dissociation merger, and that those leaders hoping to initiate organizational change and generate follower acceptance face a daunting task (Michael and Burke, 2000).

The challenge is to select a set of actions that are achievable within the capacity of the organization to absorb change and resource constraints. Early research building upon the ‘great man’ theory of leadership Judge et al. , 2002) found that the situation also plays a vital role in determining leader effectiveness and that, to be effective, leaders must behave differently in different situations (Stodgily, 1974; Yuk, 2002). Much has been written about leadership qualities and types of leadership (e. . Bass and Viola, 1994; House, 1996; Conger and Kananga, 1998). Bass (1985) suggests that leaders must promote change by creating vision. Theories of transformational leadership and organizational change emphasize that change is accomplished through the leader’s implementation of a unique vision of the organization through powerful persuasive personal characteristics and actions designed to change internal organizational cultural forms and substance (Bass and Viola, 1994; Hatch, 1993; Operas and

Robertson, 1992). Souses and Poster (1987, p. 30) suggest that, when facing significant change, ‘Leadership is the art of monopolizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations’. Leaders therefore must be skilled in change management processes if they are to act successfully as agents of change and motivate others to follow (Van Innkeeper and Hog, 2003). Leaders often encounter resistance to their efforts to redirect an organization. Dad et al. 1988) suggest that the only thing certain about organizational acquisitions (and change) is that nothing is certain’ (p. 58). Furthermore, they estimate that ’employee problems’ are responsible for between a third and half of all merger failures. When cultural change occurs, existing employees feel threatened by the loss of old corporate values and organizational lifestyles, leaving organizational members in a state of defensiveness highlighted by low levels of trust within the institution and cultural shock.

Morris (1985) advocates that employee reactions pass through four stages: (1) disbelief and denial, (2) anger, then rage and resentment, (3) emotional bargaining beginning in anger and ending in depression, and finally (4) acceptance. Unless these different stages are recognized and dealt with astutely, employees will resent change, will have difficulty reaching the acceptance stage, and the risk of merger failure is increased significantly.

During periods of change, it is important that the leaders create an environment of psychological safety for all individuals to engage in the new behaviors and test the waters of the new culture. Individuals need to be involved in order to verify for themselves the validity of the new beliefs and values, to examine consequences for themselves as an individual and, to explore how they personally an contribute to the change effort (Azimuth, Gifford and Goodman, 2000). Individual employee positioning towards change tend to reflect the purpose and values of the organization.

Resistance to change is not a random event and is the result of poor communication lines, and a lack of good leadership. It is imperative that the leader of the change management strategy has excellent interpersonal communication skills, which allows his or her followers to play a key role in the delivery of successful change. Michael O’Leary is the most successful CEO in the airline industry (Observer, AAA, b, win personal vision and gains, with no thought to the development of his team. He is financially orientated with little concern for his team or customers opinion.

He is often rude to his customers, and is known to be penny pinching to his staff with policies such as, the ban of mobile phone charges at work, staff paying for their own training and uniforms, and no sick pay allowance in probation. There is no questioning O’Leary success, however, it could be questioned as to whether one style of leadership will prove successful in times of organizational development and change. Cotter (1996) sites that as more and more organizations are pushed to reduce cost and improve quality and productivity, the need for a solid change management strategy is essential.

Cotter recognized in the sass’s that stability in business would not be the norm and that business environments would become ever more volatile (Pl 5). Two decades on, we can see that he was very much right in his prediction. Cotter could foresee that both economic and social forces would drive the need for major change within organizations should they want to prosper or simply survive. Technological change, International economic integration, matured markets in evildoing countries and the fall of communist and socialist regimes would produce a globalizes market and increased threat and competition.

For organization that recognized the opportunities and adapt accordingly this creates opportunity, for those to continue with their methods and processes, this creates threat and hazards. To avoid hazards and / or capitalist on opportunities, organization must become stronger competitors by transforming methods such as; reengineering, restricting, merges and acquisitions, strategic and cultural change. (pop) Cotter (1996) believes that firms who fail to successfully implement change do so cause of eight common avoidable errors, which result in wasted resources, burned out, scared or frustrated employee.

Firstly Cotter discusses complacency without creating urgency amongst the team. Leaders overestimating how much they can force big changes, and underestimating how hard it is to drive people out of their comfort zone. The second common error is failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition. Cotter believes that it required unison from all executives and senior management to drive the change implementation. Thirdly Cotter emphasis the need for a clear and inspiring vision. If this is underestimated, and not established transformation efforts can easily dissolve.

Leading on from this the need to communicate the vision, and obtain buy in from employees. In any series of change or transformation there will be obstacles and barriers; Cotter believes that organizations that do not permit these and encourage their employees to confront them, are disemboweling employees and undermining change. True transformation will not happen in a short space of time, and those who fail to transformation will not succeed. That said, Cotter’s (1996) seventh error, is declaring victory too soon.

Firms who mistake progress for completion can often undermine efforts and be faced with resistance, and can even start the reversal process. Cotter’s eighth and final error is neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture. Cotters vision is that change only firmly sticks when it seeps into the very bloodstream of the business. If new behaviors are not rooted as the social norm and believed as the company values, they are always at threat of degradation. Changing an organization’s culture is a long process that requires a sustained drive from the top, initiated by a leader or leaders whom must be prepared to Walk the elk.

It is vital that leaders must take the lead in creating the cultural change necessary to implement the change process. It is only then that followers can feel confidence in the direction the leader is headed which will allow for successful change management. The Leader must create a sense of urgency, a shared vision and common direction for change. They must engage people throughout the organization and appreciate that different people will react differently to change. Change often involves a loss, and people go through the “loss curve” which requires leaders to manage expectations realistically to minimize resistance.

Resistance to change is a predictable reaction to this uncertain process; therefore communication and strong leadership is key to its success. Cotter and Schlesinger (1979 as cited in Best of HUB) believe that to minimize resistance to change you need to diagnose the types of resistance you envisage encountering and tailoring your countermeasures accordingly. There is a need for methods such as education and communication, participation and involvement, facilitation and support, negotiation and agreement, and coercion. Associated with Cotter (1996) eight fundamental errors, are his eight-stage processes for creating major change.

Cotter’s eight steps model is probably the best known and the most applied for all top-down change processes. Cotter sites that these eight steps are required in order to successfully implement change of any magnitude (POP). These eight steps are establishing a sense of urgency, creating the guiding coalition, developing a vision and strategy, communicating the change vision, empowering broad-based action, generating short terms wins, consolidation gains and producing more change and anchoring new approaches in the culture.

The first four steps in the transformation process help defrost a hardened status u; if change were easy you wouldn’t need all that effort. Phases five to seven then introduce many new practices. The last stage grounds the change in the corporate culture and helps make it stick (pop). For Cotters theory to be successful, he sites that all eight stages must be carried out. Although one phase operates in multiple phases at once, you cannot skip any stage. Equally, you cannot Jump ahead without a solid base otherwise problems will occur.

Cotter’s eight steps is a linear model that assumes predictability and manageability of change processes. The benefits of his theory are that it is easy to understand and allow, it can be successful when all steps are followed and communicated, offers of success. However, on the flip side, Cotter’s theory is clearly based on top-down change management offering little room for co-creation or other forms of true participation. Also, once the change process has been initiated, with Cotters eight- stage process it would be difficult to change direction.

Scheme (2010) one of the most influential thinkers on culture and its impact on organizations, has described one of the key functions of leadership being the creation, management and when needed the destruction of organizational culture. Leaders greatly influence the culture of the organization through the way they walk the talk and live the vision. Scheme believes that culture supplies us our language, and language provides meaning in our day-to-day life. Therefore culture can be thought of as the foundation of the social order that we live in and of the rules we abide by.

Scheme (2010) goes on to explain that cultures are embedded by what leaders impose. Culture is ultimately created, embedded, and ultimately manipulated by leaders (p. 3). Scheme (2010) believes that cultures naturally evolve and changes as organizations row and age, and that all leaders need to understand these processes to be able to steer their organization. His theory sites that organizations should have cultural change mechanisms to cope with every organizational stage, which he breaks down to; founding and early growth, midlife, and maturity and decline.

The mechanisms are cumulative in the sense that at a later stage, all prior change mechanisms are still operating, but addition ones become relevant (p. 273). Lenin (1958 cited in Simms 2005), one of the most influential thinkers in organizational development and change management, developed a theory of a landed approached to change. He argued that organizations typically include a mixture of forces for change (driving forces’) and forces resisting change (restraining forces’). Lenin suggested that successful change programmer involve three steps; Unfreezing, change or movement and refreezing.

He describes the “unfreezing” process, as challenging the status quo of an organization. Here the old way of doing things is challenged and new behaviors are encouraged, although Lenin accepts that this can be emotionally difficult for those involved. The second stage involves “moving” awards a set of more desirable individual behaviors and group norms, which are more appropriate in response to the identified need for change. The final stage involves making the new changes sustainable in the long term by “re-freezing” them.

Here the new changes become accepted as the norm, however this must occur at various levels in order to be successful. This involves implementing and refreezing changes to the organizational culture, norms, policies and practices of an organization. Although Linen’s model has often been dismissed as overly simplistic and has become unfashionable in recent years, it still offers a common sense approach to implementing organizational change. Although there are varying thoughts on how leadership should impact on change, we can conclude that leadership is the most important factor in change.

For change to be successful it is imperative that leaders take ownership of change, and that they communicate the reason for change, and they consider the individual affect that the and mission, taking into consideration the company culture and its objectives. Issues raise their head in times of change when those who are affected are not clear on their role in the process. Lack of communication is the key to the failure of change, Hereford the leader of the change programmer is there to ensure that everyone is aware of the change, the reason, motivations, and the personal positives and negatives that will impact on them.