Innovation-Triggered Change and Leadership Styles

Introduction

At present, the successful application of innovation is possibly the most significant factor in the success of an enterprise. Companies that do not match the new ideas of their competitors or fail to create distinguishing features tend to be less successful than those that do. However, a particular type of leadership is necessary to continuously and successfully introduce changes to the company. This paper aims to explore the varieties of leadership styles that promote changes in organizations and their significance.

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Styles of Leadership and Their Applications

The market where a company works tends to continuously change and evolve in ways that can be difficult to predict. It is necessary to introduce changes to adapt to new conditions and produce the best possible results. As the driving force of the organization, a leader should be the one to approve alterations and start working on them. Furthermore, it is a leader’s job to persuade his or her subordinates that the change is necessary. To do that, some approaches primarily involve the effective use of leadership and planning.

Leadership and Competitiveness

The role of the leader is to provide a roadmap of the change implementation plan and oversee its execution. According to Mokhtar, Yusoff, and Yusr (2015), a leader has to convince employees of the value of the innovations and organize the resources necessary to apply the changes. Also, they have to display their commitment to the idea and lead by example, as they are the people whose opinion the employees will look up to when considering the worth of the innovation.

Innovations and Organizational Change

Innovation is a new idea that results in a solution for an existing issue that is better than the current one. This idea may propose improved production methods, more effective employee management strategies, new data processing technology, and a variety of other things. However, changing the organization is necessary to implement innovation, with the changes ranging from policy updates to infrastructure redesigning and the creation of new departments.

It is critical that one has a broad view of the company before considering the value of a change, and as such, the decision falls to the executive members, usually starting with department heads and going upward. However, making the decision is not enough, as the employees have to be directed efficiently and convinced that the innovations will be beneficial to them. This goal brings leadership into focus, as it is the primary instrument for the organization and coordination of the workforce.

The Role of Leadership in Motivating Employees

A manager has to be an excellent leader to motivate employees to approach them with proposals for their ideas. However, the influence of leadership is not limited to promoting idea submission. According to Khalili, Muenjohn, and McMurray (2015), supportive attitudes tend to improve the employees’ creativity, and controlling approaches appear to reduce it. However, the authors mentioned that the traditional leadership models were not intended to analyze creativity, and the correlation needed further investigation.

Nevertheless, the literature agrees that there exists a strong relationship between leadership and innovative behavior. The possible strategies that encourage creativity include the direct promotion of idea development, the motivation of employees toward collaboration, and the general establishment of a high-quality relationship between the leader and the workers. With that said, to successfully apply innovations, a leader should be able to implement the ideas in addition to encouraging their submission.

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Strategic Leadership and Innovations

For this paper, strategic leadership will be defined as an ability to create a precise vision for the changes one intends to implement, as well as the methods they plan to use. According to Larjovuori et al. (2016), strategic leadership is a prerequisite for large-scale changes such as digitalization. Introducing changes without being able to imagine the final result is confusing and potentially damaging to the organization, and the same is true if the leader attempts to use methods he or she is unable to execute correctly.

Strategic leadership is possibly the most critical type of influence for innovation. The greatest, most influential ideas tend to require large-scale change, which is nearly impossible without prior planning. Furthermore, a strategic outlook may help identify the potential issues and be prepared to address them if they ever arise. Lastly, the ability to view the situation from a broad perspective lets a leader inspect the newest advances made by the organization’s competitors as a whole, helping him or her comprehend the entire idea and decide whether a similar approach would be beneficial to his or her company.

The Role of Transformational Leadership

A vital part of innovation is convincing the employees to accept changes that may not be immediately beneficial for them but are necessary for the company. It is primarily the responsibility of transformational leadership, which “occurs when leaders expand interests of their employees, produce the awareness and acceptance of the purposes and missions of the group, and motivate their employees to go beyond their self-interest for the sake of the group” (Miao and Qian, 2016, p. 80). According to Miao and Qian (2016), this style of leadership may also inspire the subordinates to submit more suggestions that are constructive.

Employees are often discouraged from voicing their ideas by the presumption that the suggestions challenge the status quo and introduce unproductive disruptions. The idea is not entirely incorrect, and Miao and Qian (2016) admit that actions aimed at modifying the organization’s operation can damage an employee’s relationship with his or her superiors. Transformational leadership helps establish a more open climate where the employees are encouraged to engage in change-oriented behavior even if it may negatively affect their relationships with their superiors. Furthermore, this variety of leadership establishes the leader as a trustworthy person, transparent and sincere, promoting bolder activity by employees.

According to Nging and Yazdanifard (2015), transformational leadership consists of four primary categories: motivating inspiration in others, stimulating their intellectual activity, displaying personal charisma, and looking at one’s subordinates on an individual basis. It helps to establish confidence in the leader and, therefore, any changes that propagate from him or her. It also motivates others to follow the leader’s directions, encourage the creation of new ideas, and adapt the innovations in a manner that considers the needs of employees. As a result, employees will share the leader’s vision and will strive to attain it as part of their personal development.

Other Leadership Styles

There are numerous distinct leadership styles, and a person’s approach to leading others is usually a combination of some of them. Nging and Yazdanifard (2015) distinguish the commanding, logical, supportive, inspirational, transactional, and servant leadership styles in addition to those mentioned above as relevant to promoting change in an organization. As these approaches can have a considerable impact on the success of innovation, it is prudent to review them.

The commanding style focuses on the achievement of a given goal and maximization of performance. Leaders who use this style are less receptive to outside input and request their employees to adhere to strict plan guidelines. This strictness may create concerns when the leader’s expectations are not met, and employees may not feel motivated to submit ideas, but the approach tends to be highly effective at the execution of approved innovations.

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In contrast, logical leadership focuses on the creation of ideas and proposals. Leaders who prefer this approach try to make employees understand the relevance of the change, which leads to greater acceptance. As a consequence, the organization often establishes a creative climate that encourages innovation suggestions. However, this style does not incorporate clear guidelines for the implementation of the ideas, relying on the understanding of employees.

Supportive leadership means understanding the organization’s culture and maintaining its consistency to promote a sense of security. When employees perceive the company’s values as constant despite the innovations, they accept the changes more readily. This process may even result in the gradual evolution of these values, which leads the company to become innovative where it previously was conservative. Furthermore, understanding the environment of the company allows a leader to estimate the expectations of his or her subordinates better, and he or she can use that knowledge to formulate proposals that are easier to accept.

Inspirational leadership focuses on the development of new ideas through experimentation, making sure the leader’s subordinates form a cohesive team, and spreading his or her vision. Inspirational leaders encourage creativity in themselves, as well as others, promoting open discussion and motivating their subordinates to invest time and effort in the changes. A common inspirational strategy introduces broad suggestions and has employees use them as a basis to formulate their ideas, which leads to unique solutions and personal investment of subordinates.

Transactional leaders, on the other hand, keep their distance from employees, viewing the relationship as an exchange of work for an adequate price. This approach is centered on the technical and technological aspects of a company, and it is less applicable to problem-solving and human relations. Nevertheless, according to Riaz and Khalili (2014), transformational leaders often incorporate transactional leadership into their methods. Focused mostly on introducing change to the structure, transactional leaders estimate their subordinates’ aims by inspecting their work and redistribute the tasks to promote efficiency and self-confidence.

Lastly, servant leadership emphasizes the mutual influence of the leader and his or her followers. A servant leader promotes each of his or her subordinates to be self-sufficient and encourages them to take initiatives and focus on goals. At the same time, he or she has to play the leading role, establishing the direction of the work and ensuring that employees do not become overly focused on their areas of personal interest. A servant leader should encourage his or her subordinates to learn new things and grow as individuals instead of overspecializing in one topic.

Summary

Continuous innovations are crucial to the success of an organization in the modern environment. A leader’s contributions to innovation are vital to its success. They have to approve the idea, formulate a plan for its implementation, convince their subordinates to accept the changes, and oversee the work. Throughout this process, there are varying leadership styles that all have merit. A good leader should be aware of the possible approaches and considerations when working on changes in their organization.

Reference List

Khalili, A, Muenjohn, N & McMurray, A 2015, ‘Leadership behaviour, creativity and innovative behaviour: instrument development inquiry’, in The 2015 International Conference on Business and Information, pp.322-326.

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Larjovuori, R-L, Bordi, L, Mäkiniemi, J-P & Heikkilä-Tammi, K 2016, ‘The role of leadership and employee well-being in organizational digitalization’, in Proceedings of the 26 Annual RESER Conference, pp. 1159-1172.

Miao, C & Qian, S 2016, ‘Does leadership matter? A multilevel investigation of the moderators for the relationship between openness and change-oriented behavior’, Journal of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics, vol. 13, no.1, pp. 77-89.

Mokhtar, SSM, Yusoff, RZ & Yusr, MM 2015, ‘Leadership quality and the performance of market driven organization’, The Social Sciences, vol. 10, no. 7, pp.1639-1644.

Nging, TK & Yazdanifard, R 2015, ‘The general review of how different leadership styles cause the transformational change efforts to be successful’, International Journal of Management, Accounting and Economics, vol. 2, no. 9, pp.1130-1140.

Riaz, MN & Khalili, MT 2014, ‘Transformational, transactional leadership and rational decision making in services providing organizations: moderating role of knowledge management processes’, Pakistan Journal of Commerce and Social Sciences, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 355-364.

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