Leadership is the process through which an individual guides and influences a group or an organization towards a common goal. In an organizational setting, leadership influences and motivates the organizational personnel (employees) towards the achievement of their individual goals. In any organization, change is inevitable. Hence, it is important for leaders to be at the forefront as the guides and key decision-makers to direct the change processes that will ensure that the organization remains relevant and responsive not only to the needs of the customers but also to the demands of the changing business environment.
In organizational management, the term ‘change’ has been institutionalized to refer to the process through which an organization develops and improves its services with the aim of ensuring customer and stakeholder satisfaction. Kouzes, Poster, Bass, and Burns are epitomes of key leadership theorists. The focus of the paper is how change is linked to leadership in an organization.
Defining Change and Leadership
Leadership and change are highly interrelated. Change refers to the process of transformation from one state to another. It is important to have the right leadership for changes to be initiated and completed successfully in an organization. Leadership is the fuel and engine that steer change management in an organization (Yukl 2004). Good leadership means that the organization can notice and initiate change processes that will lead to improved customer service delivery, return on investment for shareholders, and the overall contentment of all stakeholders. However, it is worth noting that despite the benefits of change, the change process and change management have their serious challenges, which threaten to derail the whole process (Gesme & Wiseman 2010).
Drivers, Practices, and Principles that Underpin Change and Leadership
On leadership, many questions have been raised concerning the best leadership approaches that can facilitate change in an organization. In this case, as Jackson and Parry (2008) confirm, various theories and approaches have been put forward to discuss the concept of leadership together with what it entails. For instance, the behavioral theory of leadership emphasizes various and specific behaviors of a leader that separate him or her from the followers. According to the theory, behavioral leaders lead by promoting and castigating the recommended manner of working with the aim of discouraging any behavior that seems counterproductive to the organization.
For example, they can reward employees who come to work on time and/or punish or warn those who do not come on time (Grint 2005). This strategy indicates a good scenario through which ethical behaviors are promoted in an organization. The strategy of persuading employees to come to work on time maximizes the utilization of available working hours and hence better outcomes for the organization. The transformational leadership theory is also crucial to the subject of change and leadership. Transformational leaders are keen on taking the initiative of encouraging their followers to take the desired direction towards a given goal.
According to this theory, transformational leadership calls for individuals (leaders) who can inspire others. As Northouse (2011) confirms, the theory upholds persons who have the vision and passion for achieving great things.
The Role and Significance of Change and Leadership
Change and leadership are significant in terms of guiding and explaining when, how, and why organizations have to adopt new ways of carrying out their affairs. One of the most applied theories is the change management model by Kurt Lewin. According to Pardey (2007), the theory views a change as an inevitable process, yet a highly challenging period in an organization. Every organization has an already established way of doing things (Hegar, 2008).
Hence, a change in the established norms will often receive resistance from people who want to retain the status quo (Parker & Stone 2003). According to the theory of change management, the first step towards change management is referred to as the unfreeze process where stakeholders and leaders are made aware of the need for change (Western 2007). The second step towards change is referred to like the change, where the group now starts to look for new ways of doing things as opposed to the previous ways. The third stage of change is referred to as the refreeze, where the organization now institutionalizes the new approaches and ways of carrying out its activities (Watson 2002).
Through transformational leadership, the above change process, as guided by Lewin’s change management model, becomes relevant. For example, the change model calls for the importance of explaining and making sure that employees and stakeholders understand the need for the change. In this case, a transformational leader will inspire the organization to have aspirations of bigger ideas and goals (Pierce & Newstrom 2008). The move will make it easier for the organization to understand the new changes and take a proactive role in attaining the success of the desired change. Hence, change and leadership are clearly intertwined.
Apple Inc., which is a major consumer electronics and technology company, is known for its innovative and highly popular technology devices. However, the company was not successful until Steve Jobs took over as the business leader. During his time, Apple Inc. was transformed from a small technology company to the world’s largest corporation. To many scholars, Jobs’ leadership style is viewed as transformational. Through his leading by example approaches, he was able to inspire his organization towards a culture of innovativeness (Belbin 1981). He conquered the world of business, although he is no longer at the helm of the organization.
Another good example of an organization whose leadership approaches failed spectacularly is Kodak. During its success, the company was the world’s biggest imaging and related technology business. However, it was trapped in its former glory, where it failed to see the changes that were occurring in the imaging technology. It was almost driven out of its market when it went into bankruptcy. In this case, the leadership did not realize or initiate the changes that were occurring in the film industry.
It could not seize the digital imaging opportunity. The result was that the company, which was the inventor of digital cameras and imaging, overtaken by its competitors. The company is yet to recover completely from its slow reaction to change. The organization’s leadership did not realize the potential of digital imaging. It opted to retain the status quo by following the existing organizational model and hence the failure.
From the above discussion, it is evident that leadership and change are important tenets in any organization. Leadership is the process of guiding others towards a desired goal, while a change indicates the process of transformation from one position to another. The two concepts are highly interrelated. The discussed change management model is an important theory of change that forms part of Kurt Lewin’s work on change and leadership. Of these theories, transformational leadership is highly applicable since it relates well to the discussed change management model. The two case studies have clearly shown the importance of leadership in the success or failure of an organization.
Leadership and Team Working
Leadership refers to the process through which an individual or a group of individuals guide the achievement of a team or group’s goals in a given setting. Since leadership does not occur in a vacuum, the relationship between leaders and their followers must be evident. Teams are viewed as superior ways through which organizations can achieve important milestones via collective efforts. However, while the teams have a shared vision and a pooled desire to achieve the given goals, leadership plays an important role in ensuring unity, focus, and success of the team. In a team, the leadership is rotational. Hence, each member can be a leader.
This plan indicates the significant role of each member towards the success of the team. Daft (2008) is a working illustration of theorists who uphold the concept of teamwork. This section discusses the concept of teams and team effectiveness. It presents the role of leadership in the success of teams in a given setting.
Teams and Team Effectiveness
A team refers to a group of individuals who are brought together by the desire to achieve a common goal or outcome in a given setting, such as an organization. According to Burnes and Jackson (2010), the number of team members ranges from 2-15 members. The effectiveness of a team is based on each member’s contribution to the set agenda.
Teams vs. Groups
Differences and similarities are evident between a team and a group. Firstly, both are made of two or more members. Such a definition can be misconstrued as indicating that a group is a team and vice versa. A group has a specific and designated leader as opposed to a team where leadership is shared or rotational. A team bears mutual and individual accountability as opposed to a group where accountability is entirely individual. As opposed to a group, members of the team set the goals. Other individuals set groups’ goals for the group members to follow (Mourier & Smith 2001). Groups are restricted to the organization.
Such an organization does not inhibit a team’s operations. The team’s success is shared. Besides, the outcomes or products are viewed as collective, as compared to a group where each individual is responsible for his or her own success. Delegation marks a group setting. In a team, active participation, vigorous problem solving, mutual feedback, and lively and open-ended discussions take center stage (Hughes 2010). It is evident that the leadership roles in a group and team vary. The group head is the overall decision-maker, while the team’s boss is a member and a participant in the setting.
The Significance of Team Working
As Cameron and Greene (2004) observe, bringing people together to ensure team effectiveness is a very difficult task, which must be undertaken to warrant the desired outcomes. In 1988, the team in charge of managing the trust funds at the Bank of America failed to act in a timely manner on hardware failures that had been reported on the trust management system. Such a failure led to the bank losing control of USD&28billion dollars.
The result was the firing of the members of the entire trust department as trust depositors eventually withdrew all their money. Such an example clearly indicates the availability of various barriers to team effectiveness, which can lead to devastating consequences (Stredwick & Kew, 2005). It is important for team leaders to be at the forefront in identifying the problems and motivating the team members to work in a timely and accurate manner. The goal is to discover and rectify any problems to guarantee the achievement of the team’s goals. Some of the barriers to team effectiveness include poor communication, unclear goals, lack of managerial involvement, and ego (Maurer 2010).
For instance, Google has overcome these challenges in its teams by ensuring open communication, proper and clear goals for each team, and management involvement in every step of the team’s progress. By adopting these solutions to the barriers to teamwork, Google Inc. has emerged as one of the companies that have the highest employee satisfaction.
How Leaders Break these Barriers
Leaders ensure team effectiveness by motivating their members in many ways. According to Belbin (1981), the first important step towards motivation is the recognition of the individual member’s qualities and characteristics, which have made him or her part of the group. The second step is respecting the contribution of each member to the group’s activities, while the last approach is ensuring the equal participation of all members where each member gets a chance to be heard (Daft 2008).
Google Inc. is a good example of where teams are very open when discussing important company issues. Further, the organization also gives each individual an opportunity to develop his or her ideas before presenting them to all members for recommendations and further input towards the completion of such individual projects.
Team Working and Leadership: How Leaders Motivate Teams
In a team setting, the leadership approach is very important. It can make the difference between failure and success of the team. Transformational leadership is the most suited in a team setting since it focuses on motivating teams towards collective goals instead of pushing them towards individual goals. Leaders motivate their teams by being good examples. They ensure that the members see the higher goals and the benefits of achieving such goals, hence leading to ownership of the project or activity by all members.
The Google Company is currently an innovation center as depicted by the success of its search engine (Google) and numerous other products such as the Android mobile operating system. This system now runs in more than 80% of all Smartphones in the world, thanks to the company’s excellent leadership and teamwork.
Leadership with a Difference
Leading a team by example, can produce tremendous results. However, the leadership may sometimes fail, especially if the team is not made of the right members who have the relevant skills that can propel the team towards success. Further, without the right or clear goals, it is difficult to motivate members towards the goals because they will have difficulties in terms of understanding their roles and contribution towards the shared goals.
Teams are very important in the current world, where competition prevails. Teams ensure that people can achieve great outcomes while working together as opposed to working individually. The role of leadership is also very important in the process of ensuring effective and working teams. Some of the barriers to team effectiveness include poor communication, ambiguous goals, ego, and lack of managerial involvement. Consequently, by avoiding or addressing these barriers, it is possible to have highly effective teams, as demonstrated in the case of the Goggle Company.
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