Leadership and Change
The main objective of this section is to establish the link between leadership and change. Different scholars describe leadership differently. For example, Spillane and Diamond refer to it as a “process of social influence where a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”.1 Therefore, a leader guides, directs, and controls other people. According to Yukl, leaders deploy strategies such as motivation to encourage the achievement of a common goal.2
A goal may involve the attainment of certain amount of success within a stipulated period or upon a successful adoption of a prescribed change. To this extent, leadership links with change since leaders are vision careers of the desired change.
For effective leadership, followers must accept a person as their leader who will be in charge of directing and controlling them. As Parker and Stone observe, this process creates the challenge of analysing and adopting the appropriate leadership styles that meet the needs of the followers while at the same time reducing their resistance towards the leader.3 Leadership can be explained by various managerial theories.
They include revolutionary, contractual, trait, contingency leadership, and behavioural leadership presumptions among others. Examples of key transformational leadership theorists are Kouzes and Poster, Bass, and Burns. Theorists such as Hersey-Blanchard, Vroom-Yetton, and Fiedler have advanced the contingency theory.
Defining Leadership and Change
Spillane and Diamond present a leader as a person who other people follow and want to emulate.4 Change means the development and upgrading of processes and commodities that are offered to the markets. It may also imply the establishment of fresh ways of doing things. The aim is to ensure that all customers and stakeholders are satisfied with an organisation’s services. According to Nadler and Tushman, during a change process, leadership plays the role of developing new ideas on approaches to delivering services to customers via strategies such as partnerships, outsourcing, developing new business networks, privatisation, and public-private partnerships.5 In some organisations, a change may imply the improvement or total replacement of old processes and management strategies.
A transformation is associated with practical and spontaneous approaches. In most cases, a change is adopted when a new way of serving clients or a need in the market arises, although it may also be adopted when a crisis occurs (Big Bang or a radical change). This change is termed as transactional or planned change. Leadership ensures that employees are prepared to face any change to minimise cases of failure to embrace it. Change can also be incremental. Leadership plays the function of identifying periods when a crisis is overdue and then setting vision and goals for ensuring that organisations transform their business models to ensure that they do not experience the crisis.
Drivers, Principles, and Practices that Underpin Change and Leadership
A change does not occur without drivers, principles, and practices that underpin it. Indeed, all profit-making and non-profit-making organisations struggle to acquire a long-term success. To achieve these concerns, they keep on changing their ways of executing business. For profit-making organisations, the most appropriate changes involve those that ensure that they (organisations) become more profitable. As Bruch and Gerber assert, changes in geopolitical, demographic, and technological forces together with the intense pressure on the physical environments pose the need for organisational change.6
Other drivers or principles that underline the necessity for changes include globalisation, a change of business strategy, a change in policy or legislation, and societal pressures. Different leadership theories/styles affect organisations’ operations via the labour force that takes part in the change implementation process. Gesme and Wiseman confirm, “The key to transformational change or any change is to have leadership that can understand it, support it, explain it, and move the organisation to commit to it.”7 This claim suggests that the way organisations lead through the change process affects the degree of acceptability of the altered status quo. Considering the varying types of leadership styles, organisations must utilise the appropriate style to be successful.
The Role and Significance of Change and Leadership
Employees often welcome a change when they view it as offering learning and growth opportunities. However, this occurrence is not always the case. Wanberg and Banas claim, “employees who experience a change feel a loss of territory, are uncertain about what the future holds, and may fear failure as they face new tasks.”8 This claim suggests that people respond to change, depending on its perceived importance and/or whether it directly benefits them as Hegar confirms.9
The main problem involves how leadership can guarantee the success of a change when it influences employees negatively. Nevertheless, during the times when an organisation needs to change its processes due to economy progress, the emergence of effective new evidence-based practices and processes, and/or when it is necessary to alter survival strategies in a turbulent market, a change becomes significant amid the potential challenges that accompany its execution.
A change may be successful in some situations and unsuccessful in others. For example, the Yahoo Company needed to adopt a change in its leadership approaches to rejuvenate its dwindling profitability. It considered hiring Marissa Mayer. Before her appointment as the CEO, she had enabled the Google Company to become a leading brand to the extent of overtaking Yahoo in the web search market. By leading using the transformational headship theory and focusing on effective communication and talent management, employees who had left the Yahoo Company began to return. In 2013, Mayer noted how the change had successfully created 560 different initiatives that focused on employees.10
The initiatives had the capacity to increase employee work morale. Under Mayer’s leadership, Yahoo has been successful in terms of change implementation, akin to the fact that it was mainly focused on employees.
Avon Products Inc decided to halt the implementation of its software projects in 2013. The system for order management was first introduced in Canada with plans to implement it in its worldwide branches. Nevertheless, the implementation of change through the introduction of a new software tool failed considerably. Kepes confirms that the change massively disrupted the operations of the organisation.11
Employees left it in gigantic numbers while Avon wrote down its balance sheet by about US$100 to US$125. Where did the company go wrong? The employees complained of usability challenges with the new system. This situation suggests that the change was not designed with its effects on the employees in mind while the leadership failed to prepare the employees for any eventuality. This case amplifies how a change may fail if it influences employees negatively.
A change is concerned with culture and people. Leadership is about ensuring that people achieve the expected outcomes. Therefore, the two concepts are linked since they involve people. A change triggers resistance. Its successful implementation may fail. Several factors influence the success or failure of its implementation. Leadership has an influential role in organisations. Therefore, different styles of leadership will have a significant impact on organisations that undergo change.
Leadership and Team Working
Organisations are overly interested in hiring persons who can work effectively in a team environment. The goal is to ensure that decisions that are made by a given team do not depend on the thoughts of one individual. Rather, they need to incorporate different perspectives of different people for them to produce positive impacts on the success of an organisation. Teams are units that consist of two or more people who work by interacting and/or coordinating with each other to achieve common goals and purposes.
Leadership involves people. Therefore, leadership is related to teams since people who work together in teams require a leader who carries the vision of the team. The main challenge of working in a team environment involves orienting all people who form the team (less than 15 people) to common goals and objectives. According to Wheelan, this observation is the case where a promotion of an individual is based on the performance levels of the work team.12 Key theorists for work teams include Daft13 and Belbin.14 This section objects to discuss the link between work teams and groups and leadership.
Work Teams, Groups, and Leadership
For teams to achieve common goals and objectives, it is important for them to operate effectively. According to Antonioni, team effectiveness refers “the extent to which a team achieves performance outcomes: innovation/adaptation, efficiency, quality, and employee satisfaction”.15 Hence, effectiveness demands teams and group members to align themselves with the set objectives and/or comply with the agreed upon metrics or standards while at the same time participating in any ongoing training and development to increase their ability to deliver on common goals. They also need to engage in decision-making processes and open cultures. Although parameters for effectiveness are common for groups and teams, the two concepts are different.
Teams vs. Groups
Daft identifies seven differences between teams and groups.16 Teams have a rotational type of leadership in which the task of the leadership is allocated to one designated person in case of work groups. The designated leader takes the full accountability of the group as an individual while teams are characterised by both individual and mutual accountability. The vision of a group is similar to that of an organisation while teams have a vision and purposes that are specifically developed and limited to their members. Groups have their presentation agenda established by external people while assemblage members plan and define their manifesto. As opposed to work teams, Groups’ work is limited to the boundaries of an organisation.
Group members work on products individually while work teams work on them collectively. In case of meetings, groups adopt delegation approaches while work teams rely on mutual feedback, open-ended discussions, and with each member participating in critical problem-solving processes. Leadership links with teams and groups since leaders analyse the skill bases of the work team members. As Mumford, Campion, and Morgeson reveal, they design and allocate various job fragments based on the identified skills to ensure that people are engaged in a task with which they are acquitted.17
When Team Working Becomes Significant
Teams assume significance in contexts where the input of more than one person is required to achieve an optimal decision or output. For example, DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus assert, “Personnel selection usually requires the input from a selection committee, rather than a hiring manager.”18 Delivering a court decision depends on the stance that a jury takes, but not a decision that a single judge makes. Inquiries into grand incidents of fraud require the input of a commission.
These examples illustrate the necessity of work teams that comprise a few group members. Although work teams are important, their success may be negatively affected by diversity conflicts and/or where members pursue conflicting goals. Where reward systems are based on the individual contribution to the team’s success, issues such as upholding common goals and knowledge sharing encounter demerits since each employee attempts to gain recognition in the reward systems.
The Honda Company exemplifies the significance of teams during the process of demonstrating creativity and innovation of new products. To acquire sustained growth in an environment that is characterised by intense competition from rival organisations such as Toyota, Hyundai Motor Group, and the General Motors among others, Honda Motor Co. Ltd pays incredible attention to enhancing competitive advantage through creativity and innovation. The company believes that this situation occurs when people are organised in the form of work teams to encourage knowledge sharing as Furlan asserts.19 This plan has fostered the development of teamwork-oriented, creative, and innovative workforce for the organisation with reference to its global manufacturing plants.
The Link between Team Working and Leadership
Leaders can adopt the appropriate strategies that can guarantee the avoidance of barriers to effective work teams. The Google Company is one of the best examples of how an organisation can overcome barriers to the creation of effective work teams. The company’s organisational culture embraces workforce diversity to encourage knowledge sharing. The company’s remuneration plan is founded on the collective presentation of the work group.
This observation suggests that each work team members values the contributions of the other parties since he or she benefits from them. The increment in remuneration when performance reviews are conducted is felt across all group members. Teams link with leadership since the two sides operate together. Groups follow leaders to ensure that the mission and vision of the team are attained. However, according to Western, effective teams require leaders to function as members.20 Leadership involves followership. Outstanding leaders also equally take part in work teams as team players.
How Leaders Motivate Teams
Work teams can be motivated in various ways. For example, the Google Company motivates its employees through strategies such as team recognition, the formation of respectful relationships, and ensuring autonomy at work through delegation in the case of highly experienced work teams. As Michelle, Mathieu, and Zaccaro confirm, these strategies are effective in the long-term.21 However, in the short term, physical benefits, bonuses, and remuneration increments can act as important sources of motivation.
Leadership that can Make a Difference
Different leadership types are effective in different ways while leading work teams. However, in organisations, which require work teams to undergo processes of change, especially in the case of modern organisations that do business in a technologically sophisticated world, transformational leadership is incredibly important. By deploying soothing tones, it becomes possible to eliminate fear and tension among work team members as Rainey and Choi confirm.22 However, transformational leadership fails in situations that involve the misuse of influential powers, decreasing inspiration, and/or where a leader may emphasise specific individuals with the objective of encouraging others to follow suit.
Leaders need to develop the awareness of various contemporary contexts that lead to effective leadership when dealing with work teams and groups. This section has established the criterion for ensuring effective leadership of teams. However, it has noted that different team leadership styles are effective, depending on the state of affairs of a given organisation.
Antonioni, D., ‘How to Lead and Facilitate Teams’, Journal of Organisational Behaviour, vol. 25 no.8 (2006), pp. 1015–1039.
Belbin, N., Management Teams, Why they succeed or fail, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1981.
Bruch, H. & Gerber, P., ‘Strategic change decisions: Doing the right change right’, Journal of Change Management, vol. 11 no. 5 (2005), pp.1-99.
Daft, R., The Leadership Experience, Mason, OHCengage, 2008.
DeChurch, L. & Mesmer-Magnus, J., ‘Information Sharing and Team Performance: A Meta-Analysis’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 94 no. 2 (2009), pp. 535–546.
Furlan, U., ‘Corporate Culture and Global Competitions: The Honda Philosophy’, Emerging Issue in Management, vol. 3 no. 2 (2002), pp. 34-43.
Gesme, D. & Wiseman, M., ‘How to implement change in practice’, Journal of Oncology Practice, vol. 6 no. 5 (2010), pp. 257-259.
Hegar, W., Modern Human Relations at Work, Mason, OH, South-Western, Cengage Learning, 2008.
Kepes, B., ‘Avon’s failed SAP implementation: a perfect example of the enterprise IT revolution’, Forbes. 2015. Web.
Mayer, M., ‘The Biography Channel website’, Biography. 2014. Web.
Michelle, M., Mathieu, J. & Zaccaro, S., ‘A Temporally Based Framework and Taxonomy of Team Processes’, Academy of Management Review, vol. 26 no. 3 (2001), pp. 356–376.
Mumford, V., Campion, A. & Morgeson, P., ‘The leadership skills strataplex: Leadership skill requirements across organisational levels’, Leadership Quarterly, vol. 18 no. 7 (2007), pp. 154–166.
Nadler, D. & Tushman, M., Managing Organisations: Reading and Cases, Boston, Brown and Company, 1995.
Parker, C. & Stone, B., Developing Management Skills for Leadership, Pearson Education, Harlow, 2003.
Rainey, H. & Choi, S., ‘Managing Diversity in U.S. Federal Agencies: Effects of Diversity and Diversity Management on Employee Perceptions of Organisational Performance,’ Public Administration Review, vol. 3 no. 2 (2010), pp. 109-121.
Spillane, J. & Diamond, J., ‘Towards a theory of leadership practice,’ Journal of Curriculum Studies, vol. 36 no. 1 (2004), pp. 3-34.
Wanberg, R. & Banas, J., ‘Predictors and outcomes of openness to changes in a reorganising workplace’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 85 no. 1 (2000), pp. 132-142.
Western, S., Leadership A Critical Text, London, Sage, 2007.
Wheelan, S., Creating Effective Teams: A Guide for Member and Leaders , Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 2013.
Yukl, G., Leadership in Organisations, Global Edition, New Jersey, NJ, Pearson International, 2013.
- J. Spillane & J. Diamond, ‘Towards a theory of leadership practice,’ Journal of Curriculum Studies, vol. 36 no. 1 (2004), p. 5.
- G. Yukl, Leadership in Organisations, Global Edition, New Jersey, NJ, Pearson International, 2013, p. 43.
- C. Parker & B. Stone, Developing Management Skills for Leadership, Pearson Education, Harlow, 2003, p. 46.
- Spillane & Diamond, p. 7.
- D. Nadler & M. Tushman, Managing Organisations: Reading and Cases, Boston, Brown and Company, 1995, p. 31.
- H. Bruch & P. Gerber, ‘Strategic change decisions: Doing the right change right’, Journal of Change Management, vol. 11 no. 5 (2005), p. 57.
- D. Gesme & M. Wiseman, ‘How to implement change in practice’, Journal of Oncology Practice, vol. 6 no. 5 (2010), p. 257.
- R. Wanberg & J Banas, ‘Predictors and outcomes of openness to changes in a reorganising workplace’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 85 no. 1 (2000), p. 132.
- W. Hegar, Modern Human Relations at Work, Mason, OH, South-Western, Cengage Learning, 2008, p. 493.
- M. Mayer, ‘The Biography Channel website’, Biography [website].2014. Web.
- B. Kepes, ‘Avon’s failed SAP implementation: a perfect example of the enterprise IT revolution’, Forbes [website]. 2015. Web.
- S. Wheelan, Creating Effective Teams: A Guide for Member and Leaders , Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 2013, p. 21.
- R. Daft, The Leadership Experience, Mason, OHCengage, 2008, p. 12.
- N. Belbin, Management Teams, Why they succeed or fail, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1981, p. 8.
- D. Antonioni, D., ‘How to Lead and Facilitate Teams’, Journal of Organisational Behaviour, vol. 25 no.8 (2006), pp. 1017.
- Daft, p. 18.
- V. Mumford, A. Campion & P. Morgeson, ‘The leadership skills strataplex: Leadership skill requirements across organisational levels’, Leadership Quarterly, vol. 18 no. 7 (2007), p. 157.
- L. DeChurch & J. Mesmer-Magnus, ‘Information Sharing and Team Performance: A Meta-Analysis’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 94 no. 2 (2009), p. 535.
- U. Furlan, ‘Corporate Culture and Global Competitions: The Honda Philosophy’, Emerging Issue in Management, vol. 3 no. 2 (2002), p. 37.
- S. Western, Leadership A Critical Text, London, Sage, 2007, p. 19.
- M. Michelle, J. Mathieu & S. Zaccaro, ‘A Temporally Based Framework and Taxonomy of Team Processes’, Academy of Management Review, vol. 26 no. 3 (2001), p. 356.
- H. Rainey & S. Choi, ‘Managing Diversity in U.S. Federal Agencies: Effects of Diversity and Diversity Management on Employee Perceptions of Organisational Performance,’ Public Administration Review, vol. 3 no. 2 (2010), p. 110.