Organization’s Transformational Change: Leadership’s Role

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Background of the Study

Managing change in an organisational setting is one of the biggest challenges that leaders have to address to ensure that their institutions achieve their vision. In the current dynamic business environment, firms cannot afford to remain static. The competitiveness of an organisation is defined by its ability to understand emerging trends and changing tastes and preferences of the customer and how it responds to maximise their satisfaction. Managers have to find when it is necessary to initiate change and how they can create an environment where stakeholders can play their different roles to enhance the success of such initiatives. Many people often appreciate the significance of change, but its implementation is often a challenge. There is always the fear of the unknown that makes some to fear embracing change.

Transformational change is often one of the most feared forms because of its radical shift from traditional practices. Aquila and Rice (2009) define it as a frame-breaking change, which completely alters the current operational structure of an organisation. They often result into a massive change in systems, processes, structures and people. In most cases, they are driven by emerging technologies or the desire to redefine the focus of the target market. Transformational change requires an organisation to overhaul its current practices and embrace new ones, which are in line with the new goal. It is often disruptive and may result in elimination of some employees who may not be flexible enough to adjust to the new environment.

The impact of transformational change within an organisation is often massive and it requires those in authority to understand how to manage it effectively. It is important for leaders to create an environment where all stakeholders can embrace such radical changes. Cummings, Bridgman and Brown (2016) believe that the best way of achieving such a goal is to identify and address concerns that each group of stakeholders may have. Business owners may feel that transformational change may be a costly process but fail to increase their earnings. Employees may feel that such initiatives may threaten their positions at the firm or even render their services unnecessary within the company. Those in management positions may fear that in such a new system, they may not have the capacity to deliver what the top leadership expects. Such concerns must be addressed to ensure that everyone supports change. In this paper, the goal of the researcher is to investigate and discuss the role of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change.

Importance of the Study

Transformational change is a radical approach to moving from one practice or system to another. In this case, a company is expected to make a major transformation within a short period to enable it to achieve its new goal in the market. According to Carman et al. (2019), in most of the cases, it is often motivated by an introduction of new technology or a need to target a new segment of the market. This study is important because it focuses on how leaders can facilitate such changes in a way that does not disrupt the normal running of their organisation. People often fear change and when it is radical in nature, chances are that they may reject it because of their fears. When change is not supported by all stakeholders, it may be impossible to achieve the intended result. Employees can easily sabotage the process primarily to protect their current positions in the company.

The paper looks at ways in which such fears can be managed to ensure that the intended change is embraced. It is the role of those in leadership to manage such fears whenever it is necessary to introduce a radical shift from traditional practices. The study will explain how leaders can manage possible resistance to change and convince all the stakeholders that it is necessary to move from one system or practice to another. Some leaders often consider embracing dictatorial practices as a way of managing change. However, Haneberg (2019) believes that such practices may not yield the desired results, especially when employees and shareholders do not share the vision of the top manager. As such, a leader must understand how they can share their vision with everyone in an organisation and convince them that the sustainability of the firm depends on its ability to transform into new practices and systems.

Focus and Scope of the Research

When conducting research, it is often critical for one to define the focus and scope of the study. It helps in defining the kind of data that needs to be collected from various sources. The primary goal of this study is to investigate the role of leadership in organisation’s transformational change. The study will investigate how top managers can help initiate and successfully implement a radical change of practices in a company based on changing internal or external forces. The study will explain steps that they can take to make the process less disruptive and more acceptable to the targeted stakeholders. Using relevant theories and concepts, it will be possible to understand the role of leaders and strategies that they can use to overcome challenges that they may face in managing change. The scope of the study will be limited to the collection and analysis of secondary data, as explained in chapter three of the report. The investigation will be limited to transformational change and how leaders can play a major role in its implementation.

Aims, Objectives and Research Questions

When it is necessary to effect change in an organisational setting, leaders have the primary responsibility of guiding the rest of the team and providing the right environment for the transformation. The aim of this study is to explain the role that those in leadership have to play in an organisation’s transformational change. The study will analyse steps that they have to take and models that they can use to enhance success in such processes by reducing cases of resistance to change. The following are the specific objectives that the study seeks to achieve:

  • To investigate the role that leaders have to play in an organisation’s transformational change;
  • To identify challenges that leaders may face when introducing transformational change in their organisation;
  • To explain how resistance to change and similar challenges can be addressed in an organisational setting;
  • To discuss various theoretical models that a leader can use to introduce change successfully within an organisation.

The researcher intends to collect data that will make it possible to achieve the objectives above. Rezaul (2019) explains that developing research questions makes it easy for the researcher to understand the nature of information relevant to the study. Transforming research objectives into questions is essential as it provides a proper guide in the investigation. The researcher will understand what needs to be collected from various data sources. The following are the research questions that will guide the study:

  1. What is the role of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change?
  2. What are the challenges leaders may face when introducing transformational change in their organisation?
  3. How can leaders address resistance to change and similar challenges in an organisational setting?
  4. Which theoretical models can a leader use to introduce change successfully within an organisation?

Dissertation Structure

The dissertation is divided into five chapters, each addressing specific issues of the study. Chapter 1 provided a comprehensive discussion of the background and importance of the research. The chapter also addresses the focus and scope of the investigation, research aim, objectives and questions. The second chapter is the review of the literature relevant to this study. The chapter discusses the concept of transformational change and leadership. It discusses the role that leaders play in enhancing transformational change. It discusses various theories and models that can be used to facilitate change in an organisational setting. Chapter three provides a discussion of the methodology that was used to collect and analyse data. It discusses sources of data used in the investigation, the rationale, data selection and analysis of the collected data. Also discussed in the chapter is ethical consideration that the researcher observed. Chapter four provided an analysis of primary data collected from the identified sources. The researcher also provided a comprehensive discussion of findings made in the study. The last chapter provides a summary of findings made in the investigation.

Literature Review

Change in an organisational setting may be motivated by internal or external forces. The need to transform may be sudden while at other times it may be a gradual process. Irrespective of the speed at which it takes place, Stobierski (2020) explains that an organisation cannot afford to ignore the change. The emerging technologies, new tastes and preferences, trending fashion all demand that an organisation changes its approach to delivering its products in the market. It may not be possible to ignore change and still remain relevant in a given industry. As such, leaders have the cardinal role of understanding changing trends in the external environment and developing internal mechanisms of dealing with them. Sometimes the need for transformation may arise from internal innovative processes as a company seeks to improve the quality of services that it offers its customers. Whether the change is driven by internal or external forces, those in leadership have to find a way of guiding the rest of the team towards the new practice.

Organisational Change

In the current competitive business environment, it is not possible for a company to avoid regular transformation. Stobierski (2020, p. para. 5) defines organisational change as “the actions in which a company or business alters a major component of its organisation, such as its culture, the underlying technologies or infrastructure it uses to operate, or its internal processes.” It refers to a major shift from what has been the norm in an organisation to something that is new. It is often driven by the desire to cut cost of operation, improve efficiency, enhance the quality of products, or embrace industry best practices. In most cases, changes occur gradually and in a way that most of the stakeholders do not even realise. In other cases, it is sudden and with a major impact on the overall approach that the organisation takes to achieve its vision in the market. Gradual change is often less disruptive and not susceptible to many challenges as transformational change. People do not feel threatened and the management may not need to make heavy investments to ensure that it is realised.

Transformational change refers to a radical shift in practices, processes, technology and human resource practices within an organisation. It occurs when a firm has to completely abandon traditional practices and embrace new ones because of the forces in the environment that it has to address. The film industry experienced such a radical shift in product offering and those companies that failed to change with the required speed ended up losing their market share. There was a sudden shift from the use of traditional photographic film to the use of digital cameras. Kodak was responsible for the development of the first digital camera in the world. However, its leadership refused to embrace the new technology fearing that it would cannibalise its popular products. However, Fujifilm embraced the new technology and managed to overtake Kodak as the market leader in the film industry (Berg, Magro and Mulder, 2019). The case of Kodak is a clear demonstration of the danger that a company may face when it fails to embrace radical change when it is necessary.

Factors That Drive Change in an Organisation

Managing change requires leaders to understand forces that often drive it. Knowing when it is necessary to shift from one practice to the other and ways in which such a change should be effected is critical (Termeer, Dewulf and Biesbroek, 2017). Successful companies have come to embrace the need to maintain gradual change. However, the management must understand when it is necessary to introduce a radical transformation, especially in an industry where competition is stiff. Knowing the drivers of change helps a firm to have a careful plan that it can use to respond effectively to external environmental forces.

One of the most important drivers of change is the customer. According to Gualandris and Klassen (2018), successful firms understand the fact that they have to constantly ensure that they meet expectations of their clients. Such expectations may change depending on emerging trends in the industry. Regular market research is often meant to help a company to understand these changing trends. Once they are identified, the management must develop a system that would facilitate an effective response. It may require the company to change some attributes of its products to meet the new needs. Sometimes it may be necessary to redefine product delivery strategy, customer relations approach, or promotional campaigns. The goal is to ensure that the organisation is meeting its customers’ needs in the best way possible.

Competition is another major driver of change within a given industry. Bleijenbergh (2018) argues that healthy competition is necessary for the development of an industry. When two or more companies are fighting for the same market, they will make an effort to ensure that their products are unique. A competitor may conduct market research and develop a unique product or delivery method that meets customers’ needs in a superior way. When that happens, other firms must respond as soon as possible to avoid being forced out of the industry. In many cases, all that a company needs to do is to copy what the rival firm has done, which Haneberg (2019) refers to as embracing best practices. The need to outsmart rivals will force a firm to find ways of improving its products regularly as a way of gaining a competitive edge in the market.

The economy is another factor that often drives change in various industries. When a country is experiencing an economic boom, tastes and preferences of consumers will change. Their increased purchasing power would result in a scenario where they demand improved products because they can afford the additional cost. On the other hand, when the economy dips, consumers would become choosy with their purchases. They would prefer going for cheaper and essential products because of the reduced purchasing power (Leenders, Bleijenbergh and Brink, 2019). Such fluctuations in the economy of a country or that of the global society often result in changing purchasing patterns. The management of a company must understand such trends and define how to respond effectively to achieve the desired goal.

Technology remains one of the major and most important drivers of change. As new technological products and practices emerge, it becomes necessary for a company to change its products or product offerings. A good example of technology-driven change is in the retail industry. For a long time, people relied on brick-and-mortar stores to purchase items that they needed. They had to visit physical shops to choose and pay for these items. However, the practice is changing with the emergence of online stores. It is now possible for one to shop for what they need in various online platforms, pay for the item remotely and wait for it to be delivered in their offices or at home (Halkias et al., 2019). Large retailers like Walmart that had been trading for decades as brick-and-mortar retailers had to adjust accordingly based on the changing trends in the industry. They had to set up their online stores to target customers who are unable to visit their outlets. In this case, technology targeted the approach in which companies deliver their products to customers.

Technology can also affect the product itself, like the case of the digital televisions. This industry has experienced massive changes over the years because of the advancement in technology. For a long time, people had to rely on the black-and-white television sets that had blurred images. As technology improved, collared television emerged, which was superior to its predecessor. The plasma television then followed before the digital TV emerged. Currently, most of the leading television manufacturers are focused on smart television. When technology targets the product, it is essential for individual companies to respond with speed and redefine their products. Customers tend to prefer new technologies, which are easy to use and with many features.

Technology may affect promotional strategies that companies use to strengthen their brand and increase awareness about their products in the market. The newspaper was once the ultimate platform where all major brands would use to promote their products. The radio and television soon emerged as the other dominant media platforms and companies had to plan on when to use which product. Technological changes led to the emergence of social media platforms. Hussain (2018) explains that at first, many large corporations dismissed these sites and did not see their relevance in the marketing world. However, that has changed as it emerged that many people regularly visit these websites more often than they read the newspaper or listen to the radio. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn have become some of the important marketing platforms because of the changing technologies.

The political environment has a major impact on the change that happens in an organisational setting. According to Aldulaimi and Abdeldayem (2019), when there is a change of regime from one party to another and from one leader to the next, the business community will have to be affected. The changing business environment in the United States is an example of how political forces can drive change. When the Trump administration took over from that of President Obama, the business environment changed. Tensions between the United States and China forced many companies to redefine their operations, especially those that were operating in both countries. In the United Kingdom, the administration of Boris Johnson has taken a different approach to regional trade compared with that of Theresa May. Companies have to adjust accordingly to these changes in the political environment to ensure that their operations are in line with the new regulations.

The socio-cultural environment may also drive change in a given industry. In some countries, change is frowned upon as people value consistency. On the other hand, some societies value change as a way of making the world a better place. The United States is one such country where people highly value change as a social norm. The culture of change has driven Apple Inc., the manufacturer of iPhones, to constantly focus on producing new products at regular intervals. The company has always committed to introducing a new model of iPhone after every one or two years. Customers would make their orders and pay in full whenever the company announces its intensions of introducing a new model of iPhone. It is a demonstration of a cultural practice where people value change. They believe in it and are always willing to support it whenever it is necessary.

Resource availability is another factor that drives change within an organisation. As Janićijević (2017) explains, introducing change requires substantial investment in research, idea conception and product development. A firm has to invest a significant amount of its profits in such initiatives to achieve the desired goal. Apple Inc. has been a leading change driver in the electronics industry because of its massive financial capacity that enables it to invest in technological research. The huge profits that it makes annually allows it to conduct expensive market research, leading to the regular introduction of new models of iPhone. Even in cases where a company has to copy a competitor or embrace industry best practices, some form of financial investment would still be needed. In such a case, the company may not need to invest in expensive market research, idea conception and new product development (Altamony et al., 2016). However, it will have to invest in a new production system, which may involve training of employees and purchasing new machines.

Factors that Limit Change in an Organisation

An organisation cannot afford to ignore change for long, especially when operating in a highly competitive industry. It is essential for leaders to understand forces that may result in change resistance. According to (Halkias et al., 2019), Eastman Kodak was once a market leader in the film industry, controlling over 80% of the global market share. However, the decision of its management to ignore the digital camera technology almost resulted in its collapse as customers switched their loyalty to rival companies. The management must understand possible factors that may hinder it from embracing necessary change.

Fear of the unknown is one of the main factors that often lead to change resistance among employees. According to Betancourt (2017), everyone appreciates the need for change but when they are faced with the reality of transformation, they always get scared. Some of these people fear that they may become irrelevant to the organisation when a new system or practice is introduced. They feel that their experience may no longer be necessary and that they may lose their position in the company. Although some of these fears are legitimate, when they are not managed they may paralyse operations within a company. Such employees would do everything within their power to frustrate change as the only way of protecting their positions in the organisation. Even those whose positions and relevance in the company are not threatened would develop fear and work with other colleagues to resist change.

Economic factors may be another reason why it may be challenging to introduce change within an organisation. Every time a company needs to change from one system to another or to introduce a new product, it has to make a significant investment in the process. A firm may be forced to defer change because of the inability to afford to pay for the transition (Betancourt, 2017). Sometimes it may be more beneficial to continue with the current system that is functional than to try a new one when there is no capacity to do what is needed. The board of directors may fail to support the change is they feel that it is not in line with their interests. When the management lacks the funds, they may be forced to ignore the new system.

Poor planning has also been identified as a factor that may limit change in an organisation. For an company to introduce change successfully, it needs to have a blueprint explaining steps that should be taken, stakeholders involved in playing different roles, resources needed and time within which every activity has to be completed. Sometimes an organisation may approach change without a clearly defined strategy, making it difficult to determine whether the right progress has been made. Such cases are common when the need for change is sudden and the organisation lacks time and resources to develop an effective plan. Without a clear strategy, Betancourt (2017) explains that chances of failing are often high. The company may end up spending a lot of resources and time without achieving anything meaningful.

The setting of unrealistic goals may also hinder the ability of a company to achieve meaningful change. Toyota Motors and Hyundai are both manufactures of cars. However, the financial and human resource capacity of Toyota is by far greater than that of Hyundai. Toyota also has more experience in the car manufacturing industry (Wang, 2018). It is not possible for the management of Hyundai to set transformational goals that are exactly the same as that of Toyota. When these goals are unrealistic, most of the stakeholders will give up along the way, making it impossible to introduce the desired change. Such an initiative would only result in loss of time and resources that would have been used in the development of the company.

Managing Organisational Change

It is critical to find ways of managing change within an organisation. According to Betancourt (2017), transformational change is different from gradual change that takes place in an organisation. Mostly it is sudden and involves a radical shift from what is the tradition within a firm. It would require massive financial investment to change the current systems, structure, human resources and practices. A company may be forced eliminates a section of its employees, introduce a major technology, or embrace a strategy that most of the stakeholders may consider radical. Problems often emerge when those who are expected to support change start to oppose it. Rejection of change occurs when one feels threatened in their current position.

The leadership of an organisation has the responsibility of managing change in a way that eliminates all forms of resistance and obstacles that may limit implementation. Managing change requires adequate planning, as Wang (2018) observes. It requires the management to monitor and understand the changing market trends and to prepare all stakeholders effectively so that they do not develop unnecessary fear that may impede transformation within a firm. Various models have emerged that can be used to manage change. They provide a step-by-step guideline that a leader can follow when it becomes necessary to introduce a new system. These models are discussed in the theoretical section of this chapter.

Mistrust and misunderstanding is often a major impediment to change management in an organisation. It often arises when a section of the stakeholders feel that the change process is meant to target them unfairly. Employees may feel that such an initiative is meant to eliminate them as a way of lowering expenses of the organisation. Junior and mid-managers may think that the process may lead to the loss of their current positions. Some shareholders may feel that the management is being less truthful about the financial implications of the process. Akingbola, Rogers and Baluch (2019) state that once suspicions and mistrusts emerge, it becomes almost impossible to achieve real change. The management has to find ways of addressing miscommunication as a way of fighting unnecessary fear. Fighting selecting information processing is essential among employees. It may be necessary for the company to replace bureaucratic management with an open-door policy. Employees should be given the opportunity to engage top managers and demand for clarification on issues that they find disturbing.

Managing organisational change also requires the leadership to address the problem of increased workload. Employees can work optimally when they are assigned tasks aligned with their experience and knowledge. Care should be taken to avoid cases where one has to be taken to a new department or workplaces where they feel inadequate and uncomfortable. Their performance may drop significantly as they struggle to cope with the new environment. Transferring an employee from one department to another or one outlet to the next is encouraged. However, such changes should be based on the actual capacity of these employees to deliver.

Theoretical Framework

Managing change is a complex process that requires a leader to avail the needed resources and convince all the stakeholders of the significance of the process to achieve specific goals. Scholars have conducted an investigation to help explain the best ways in which leaders can manage change in their organisational settings. Different theoretical models have emerged that can be used to manage change, especially when it is radical in nature. This section discusses various theories that a leader can use to manage an organisation’s transformational change.

Kurt Lewin’s Change Model

One of the most popular theoretical concepts used in managing change is Kurt Lewin’s model. It proposes three stages that should be taken when introducing a new practice, technology, or product in an organisation, as shown in figure 1 below. The first stage is to unfreeze, where the management is expected to prepare employees and all stakeholders for change. Weaknesses of the current system should be defined and the need for a new one explained. Concerns and fears that any stakeholder may have should be addressed adequately. The second stage is the actual introduction of change, where the management is expected to engage all the stakeholders. When executing the intended change, this model emphasises the need to ensure that everyone understands their role. It is expected that employees will be adequately prepared to operate under the new system.

The last stage is to refreeze, where the team is expected to ensure that the new practice introduced in the organisation becomes permanent (Tang, 2019). At this stage, the management may be required to re-evaluate its system, identify weaknesses that exist and propose ways of managing them. When using this model, the emphasis should be on the preparation of all stakeholders adequately before the transformation. Although the model is simple, it has proven to be effective in managing transformational change in organisations. It creates a conducive environment where everyone understands what is expected of them.

Lewin’s Change Model
Figure 1. Lewin’s Change Model (Cummings, Bridgman and Brown, 2016, p. 34).

McKinsey 7 S Model

McKinsey’s model, shown in figure 2 below, identifies seven elements that one has to take into consideration when trying to introduce change in an organisational setting. It classifies the elements into two groups of hard and soft elements. The hard elements are easily identifiable and can easily be manipulated by the management. They include structures, strategy and systems. Strategy is one of the most important elements of change management. This model emphasises the need to have a carefully crafted plan on how specific activities have to be conducted when introducing change. The plan should be communicated to all the stakeholders at the right time so that they can understand what is expected of them at work.

The element of structure defines the departments within the organisation and how information flows from one office to the other (Wang, 2018). When planning to introduce change, it is the responsibility of a leader to ensure that there is an effective communication system among all stakeholders. It is important to ensure that concerns of employees are addressed within the shortest time possible. The third hard element is the system, which defines how daily activities are conducted in an organisation. The approach that employees take when conducting their activities defines how receptive they will be when it becomes necessary to embrace change.

The model has four elements that McKinsey referred to as soft. The elements are considered soft because they are less tangible and are influenced by the company culture (Wang, 2018). One of these soft elements is skills of individual employees within an organisation. The competency of workers defines their ability to shift from one practice to the other with ease. It means that one of the ways of promoting change in an organisation is to improve skills of workers. The second element is the style of leadership that an organisation embraces. Change can only be realised when leaders create an environment where employees can try new practices. Reasonable mistakes that one commits when trying a new practice should be tolerated. At the same time, management should avoid rigidity and punitive practices that may discourage creativity and innovativeness among workers.

The model identifies staff as another soft element. It refers to the entire workforce within an organisation and its capabilities. The staff must learn to work as a unit to address individual challenges that the organisation faces. The element also promotes the need to have an effective communication system where parties can share the progress they are making and challenges that they face in an effort to achieve desired results. The last element in this model is the shared values. They refer to the corporate culture and work ethics within an organisation. It is what defines actions that employees within an organisation take, especially when faced with a challenge. These elements help in ensuring that an organisation introduces a new system with ease, especially when it is a radical shift from what has been the norm.

McKinsey 7s Model
Figure 2. McKinsey 7s Model (Aquila and Rice, 2009, p. 29).

Kotter’s Change Management Theory

Kotter’s model of change management, like that of Lewin, identifies steps that a leader should follow to introduce change within an organisation. It identifies eight steps of change management, as shown in table 1 below. The first step in transformational change when using this model is to create a sense of urgency. The management should make all the stakeholders understand the need to have a change of strategy. The management should then form a coalition of stakeholders expected to play different roles in the change process. The team should then work as a unit to create a vision for change. The first three steps are meant to create an environment for change. They help in enabling employees to understand why transformation is necessary, then create a team of workers who will lead the process before developing a vision based on the goal that the team seeks to achieve.

The fourth step is to communicate the vision with the rest of the population. It is important to note that at this stage, it will not just be the leader struggling to share the vision to the rest of the stakeholders in the organisation. Instead, it will be a team-leading the change sharing the new vision with the rest. The next step is to empower action. It is the stage where change is introduced in the organisation. The assumption made is that the team is adequately prepared and relevant information shared that everyone understands what is expected of them. The sixth stage is to create quick wins in different teams involved in managing change. The vision is broken down into small activities and each team is expected to achieve success in completing them within a given period (Tang, 2019). The small gains will help in achieving the strategic goal of the company. The three stages are meant to introduce the actual change within the organisation.

The seventh step is to build on the change that has been introduce. Every time small gains are made towards achieving the needed success, the team should focus on the next goal. The small gains are meant to motivate team members to remain committed to achieving the desired vision. The last step is to make it stick. It means that once a positive change is introduced, the team leading the process should ensure that it becomes standard practice. If it was a shift from using the analogue to the digital platform, the management should ensure that the new practice becomes the standard way of doing things within the company. The last two steps in this model are meant to sustain change once it is introduced.

Kotter’s Change Management Model.
Table 1: Kotter’s Change Management Model. Source (Carman et al., 2019, p. 2).

Bridges’ Transition Model

The model has become one of the most commonly used concepts of managing change. It focuses more on transition than change, as Akingbola, Rogers and Baluch (2019) explain. Which change can happen suddenly and can be easily reversed, transition is a slow process and most often it is permanent. The model identifies three stages that leaders should use to manage transformational change. The first stage is defined as ending, losing and letting go (Wang, 2018). It is the stage where the leader is expected to deal with uncertainties often associated with change. Addressing fear, denial, anger, frustration, a sense of loss, confusion and reservation (Tang, 2019). The leader is expected to deal with scepticism and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable with a new system. The management has to let everyone to appreciate the need to let go of the old practices even when they appear to be relevant. They have to be reminded of the dynamism of the world and the need to embrace transformation.

The next stage, as shown in figure 3 below, is the transition or neutral zone. Bridge explains that at this stage, it is possible that some of the team members may have resentment towards the new initiative while others may have low productivity and low morale (Akingbola, Rogers and Baluch, 2019). Anxiety about the new status, identity and role may also be witnessed. Others may have scepticism towards the new initiatives that are being introduced. The management should address these concerns effectively, working closely with those who have already understood the new concept and embraced it fully. Care should be taken to avoid creating an environment where employees panic because of fear of the unknown.

The last stage of transition when using this model is identified as the new beginning. It is characterised by relief, openness to learning and a renewed commitment to one’s new role and to the organisation (Wang, 2018). There is always a sense of accomplishment at this stage. The management has gone through the process of addressing the concerns of stakeholders and convinced them of the benefits that the new system has to offer. The team will start experiencing improved performance because everyone understands their role under the new system and how they should relate with one another. The fear that one may lose their job or management position is lost at this stage. The only focus is on improved performance and the need to work as a unit to make the organisation a better place.

Bridges Transition Model
Figure 3. Bridges Transition Model (Haneberg, 2019, p. 44).


The previous chapter has provided a detailed review of the relevant literature on this topic. The information provided insight into the role of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change based on findings made by other scholars. In this chapter, the focus is to discuss in detail the method that was used to collect and analyse data. The chapter discusses the rationale for the methodology and the desired outcome of the research. Data sources are explained as well as data selection and collection method. The researcher also discusses the method used to analyse the collected data. The final section of the chapter looks at ethical considerations.


It is important to define the approach that was used to collect and analyse primary data collected from sampled respondents. This chapter is particularly important because it explains how data was collected from various sources, then analysed to help answer the research question. According to Rezaul (2019), when reviewing an academic research paper, one of the issues of interest is always the method that was used to collect and process data. It helps to determine the reliability and validity of the report. The trustworthiness of a report often depends on the approach that the researcher took in overcoming various forms of bias and misleading information. When relying on secondary data, this chapter helps to explain how the sources were obtained and their reliability and validity established before being considered appropriate for the report.

Desired Outcomes of the Research

In this study, the primary goal of the researcher is to explore the role of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change. Some scholars have argued that the ability of an organisation to achieve transformational change depends on the leadership approach (Tang, 2019). Such a radical change requires commitment from management. Resources have to be made available and in most cases, hard decisions are made even if it does not please everyone. The desired outcome of this research is to develop an intervention plan that leaders can use to manage change within their companies. The report discusses how different theories and models can be used to manage radical change.

Data Sources

When conducting research, one of the important steps that one has to make is the definition of data sources that have to be used. Primary data sources are often collected from a sample of individuals who agree to take part in a study. It can be collected through face-to-face interviews or online surveys. Secondary data is another form of information that is often used in research. Such data are obtained from published sources such as books, journal articles and reliable online sources. The goal of the researcher was to use both sources of data to inform this study. Secondary data would help to identify existing knowledge gaps while primary data would have been used to address the identified gaps.

The researcher found it necessary to collect secondary data because of the various challenges brought about by the current global pandemic of COVID-19. Collecting primary data would require sampling respondents and engaging them in interviews. However, restrictions relating to social gathering made it impossible to collect data using such a strategy. Health experts have explained that the primary way in which the virus spreads from an infected person to a healthy one is close physical contact. As such, social gatherings, especially when it can be avoided, is strongly discouraged. The researcher had to rely primarily on already published sources of information to inform this study.

Data Selection and Collection

When using secondary data, it is important to select reliable sources that help in addressing the research question. The concepts of leadership and change have attracted the attention of scholars for the past several decades. As such, there are numerous publications that focus on these topics. However, this study focuses on specific aspects of the two concepts. It explores the role of leadership in organisation’s transformational change. When selecting secondary data sources, it was important to start by identifying sources that focus on this topic. Research questions were developed to help narrow down on sources needed for the research. Mami (2019) warns that it is often easy for the researcher to lose focus of the study if they fail to understand the specific information that should be collected from the field. It was equally important to ensure that the sources used are reliable. Given the fact that the report wholly relied on secondary data, it was essential to ensure that these sources are valid.

The researcher used peer-reviewed journals as a major source of data for the report. These sources tend to be more reliable hence they formed a significant part of resources used. Books were also used to support information found in the journals. The researcher obtained these sources from online databases such as JSTOR, Academic Research, Info and Google Scholar among other databases. Keywords such as transformational change, leadership and managing resistance were used to identify sources needed for the study. Once sources were identified, the researcher reviewed the methodology used to help determine their appropriateness for the study. This step was critical in ensuring that only reliable sources were included in the study. The reliability of this report depended wholly on the validity of these secondary sources. Over 16 sources were selected based on their appropriateness for the study.

Analysis of Data Collected

When data has been collected from various sources, the next step is the analysis to ensure that research questions are answered effectively. Data collected had to help in explaining the role of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change. When using primary data, a researcher can opt to use qualitative, quantitative, or mixed research methods for the analysis. However, this study relied on secondary data, especially journal articles and books. As such, the analysis had to be based on the method that scholars used in their study. It included both qualitative and quantitative analysis of data.

Ethical Considerations

It is the responsibility of a researcher to ensure that ethical concerns are taken into consideration when conducting a study. Mami (2019) explains that one of the cardinal requirements of a researcher is to ensure that the identity of respondents is protected. It helps in avoiding cases where one is victimised because of the difference in their opinion. In this study, the need to protect the identity of the respondents was not a concern because the researcher relied wholly on secondary data. Even so, it is still necessary to maintain ethics in this case. The school has a strict code of conduct that is expected of learners when conducting such a project. One of them is to ensure that all forms of plagiarism is avoided. Using the Harvard style, information obtained from various secondary sources were adequately referenced. The researcher also made sure that the project was completed within the time provided by the school.

Analysis and Discussion

Research Questions

The previous chapter has explained the method that was used to collect and analyse data used in this study. In this chapter, the focus is to present findings made in the investigation. The study relied on secondary data that was gathered from books, journal articles and reliable online sources. The primary goal in this chapter was to respond to the research questions that were presented in the first chapter of the dissertation. These questions were in line with the objectives set for the study.

What is the role of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change?

One of the fundamental questions that the researcher had to answer based on secondary data collected from participants was the role of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change. According to Tang (2019), one of the most important roles of leadership in an organisation’s transformational change is creating an enabling environment for change. Such changes are often radical and can only be realised if the workplace allows employees to be creative and innovative in their workplaces. Some managers are often rigid and expect their subordinates to perform in a given manner without deviation. In such an environment, employees are denied the opportunity to be creative in their undertakings. They fear that when they make mistakes in their effort to try something new, they will be punished. It is the role of leaders to eliminate such rigidity in the workplace to ensure that transformational change can be achieved. Employees should feel that they have the liberty of trying new strategies.

Leaders have the role of improving communication within the workplace environment. Wang (2018) explains that one of the most common barriers to change is a broken communication system. When an organisation is planning to introduce change, fear often emerge among stakeholders. Employees may fear that their position in the company may be lost while shareholders may be concerned about the economic benefits of the new venture. During such times of fear and confusion, rumours and miscommunication are always rife. If they are not managed properly, chances that stakeholders will reject the proposed change is always high. When planning to introduce a transformational change, it is the responsibility of the leader to communicate effectively with all the relevant stakeholders. To the employees, the management should explain the relevance of the transformation, roles that they will play in the new system, challenges that may be faced, how such challenges will be addressed and any other concern that they may have. When addressing shareholders, the management has to present the economic viability of the new strategy or venture that the company is getting into.

Maintaining an open-door policy of communication is essential in such a setting. A leader must understand that during such a time, some people may deliberately sabotage the change process because of the feeling of inadequacy. Maintaining an open-door policy makes it possible for junior workers to interact easily with the top management unit to address issues of concern. An effective communication platform can help address the problem of miscommunication. Tang (2019) explains that social media provides a perfect platform for sharing information that eliminates rumours when planning to introduce change. In such forums as Facebook or WhatsApp group, a leader can address major questions that junior officers have towards the new system that helps to encourage the team to embrace change.

It is the role of leadership to recruit and maintain a team of highly skilled and experienced employees that can help an organisation to achieve transformational change. According to Betancourt (2017), the ability of a firm to achieve transformational change depends on the capabilities of its employees. Leading companies have come to understand the significance of having skilled workers who can lead the change process. Leaders have to know how to recruit such workers, even if it means poaching them from other companies. Once they are recruited, the other important task is to ensure that they are maintained within the organisation. A high employee turnover rate is often a negative force towards change. It eliminates consistency and rhythm within the workforce. Good remuneration is often used to ensure that employees are contented and willing to stay within a firm. However, Wang (2018) encourages managers that the social welfare of these employees should not be ignored even if they have attractive compensation.

Leaders have the role of training the workforce to ensure that they have the skills and experience needed to effect transformational change. In most cases, people tend to reject change because of lack of preparedness. The fear of the unknown is a sign that one feels inadequate to handle new roles under the new system. Such weaknesses can be overcome by taking employees through regular training (Tang, 2019). When they are adequately trained, they will lead the change process instead of being passive players who have to be forced with a new practice. They will have the capacity of knowing when it is necessary to change from one system to the other and take the initiative of championing the change.

Leaders have the responsibility of providing resources needed for transformational change. Unlike other forms of change that are gradual and less expensive, transformational change requires heavy investment to facilitate the shift from one practice to the other. Resources are needed to fund the change in systems and structures within the organisation (Haneberg, 2019). The company may also need to invest in preparing stakeholders, especially employees, to operate effectively under the new system. The management has to prepare a budget that will support the activities needed under the new management. When necessary, the board of directors will have to be involved to ensure that the needed funds are released at the right time. The leadership has to ensure that resources meant for the transformation are used in a proper way.

What are the challenges leaders may face when introducing transformational change in their organisation?

Transformational leadership often case shockwaves in an organisational setting because of the major shift from what is the norm. Leaders are often likely to face various challenges when trying to promote such a transformation within their organisation. One of the most common challenges is possible resistance to change. Various stakeholders may have varying reasons to reject the proposed change. Shareholders, through the board of directors, may reject a transformational change if they feel it may compromise their revenue stream. Wang (2018) explains that when the board of directors rejects the change, the top management unit of the company may have no option but to avoid the transition. It explains why these top managers have to start the process by convincing the board to support the process by explaining the financial benefits and the need for sustainability.

Employees may also reject a major change because of the fear they have about the transformation. According to Haneberg (2019), there is always the fear of the unknown when employees realise that a new system or practice is to be introduced. Most of them would feel that they may not fit effectively under the new system. The fear of losing their current position or being fired from the organisation may grip them so tightly that they will try to reject the change. Elderly employees are more likely to reject change than their younger colleagues, especially when it involves the introduction of new technology. Tang (2019) explains that when employees reject change, it may be difficult to successfully introduce change in an organisation. The management will need to rely on these employees to effect the transformation. When they feel threatened by it, they may deliberately sabotage the process, making it difficult to achieve success.

Budgeting is another challenge that leaders have to manage when introducing transformational change. The process requires a significant amount of money because it is a major shift from what has been the norm. It may be necessary to purchase new machines, train current employees, recruit new workers and increase productivity. It does not mean that other recurrent expenditures can be ignored during that period (Haneberg, 2019). The leadership of such an organisation will need careful planning on how to assign resources to different activities. It can be challenging for the management of the company has a tight budget within that financial year. Some sacrifices will have to be made to ensure that the intended goal is realised.

How can leaders address resistance to change and similar challenges in an organisational setting?

Transformational change is important to an organisation, especially when dealing with rapid transformation in the industry. As shown in the response to the first question above, a leader has numerous roles in ensuring that such initiatives are successful. One such role is addressing resistance to change and other similar problems that may arise within the organisation in the process of changing systems and structures in the organisation. Resistance may come from various stakeholders such as shareholders, employees, the government, customers, or members of the public. Any of these stakeholders have enough power to frustrate such a transition, hence a proper system should be put in place to avoid this.

Managing resistance to change among employees and shareholders can be addressed through the use of various theoretical models discussed in the literature review. Wang (2018) explains that Kurt Lewin’s change model may be a simple tool and effective in eliminating resistance to change. It emphasises the need to start by preparing these stakeholders for what is about to come. They have to receive detailed information about the new system, their role in it and benefits that shall accrue. All their fears and concerns should be addressed before starting the transition process. A leader should create a system that facilitates effective communication among stakeholders, especially for the employees and shareholders.

The government has the authority to stop an organisation from making a radical change if it goes against the approved mandate or any piece of legislation. It is the responsibility of the leadership of an organisation to assess the proposed change and determine if it is in line with existing laws and regulations in the country. It should also be in line with the mandate that was approved by the government (Akingbola, Rogers and Baluch, 2019). Sometimes it may be necessary to visit relevant authorities and seek a new mandate in case the transformation is set to introduce new products or practices that would require government’s approval.

Customers play an important role in defining the pattern of change within an organisation. In most cases, such changes are often geared towards ensuring that needs and expectations of customers are met in the best way possible. In some rare cases, transformational change may be rejected by customers (Tang, 2019). The rejection may be a result of clients feeling that the previous product was meeting their needs in a better way then what has been introduced. Samsung Group was recently forced to recall its Galaxy Note 7 because of the dangers that it exposed to its users. It meant that the company had to step back and refocus on the previous models that were still popular and safe.

Members of the public also play a major role in defining the transition path that an organisation takes. It is important to note that these stakeholders may not be necessarily regular customers. However, their opinion influences public policy and actions taken by the political class (Haneberg, 2019). It means that their concerns have to be taken seriously to avoid cases where they arise against a firm. Some of the issues that may be of interest to members of the public include pollution, disruption of their normal life and cases where the proposed change may lead to increased cases of crime within a given region. The management should work closely with community leaders to ensure that the transformational change is in line with the expectations of the immediate community.

Which theoretical models can a leader use to introduce change successfully within an organisation?

One of the fundamental questions that the researcher was interested in answering was the theoretical models that a leader can use to introduce and manage change in an organisational setting. The question has been answered in detail in chapter two of this dissertation. Different theoretical models have been identified and discussed. Kurt Lewin’s model of change was identified as one of the most preferable tools that a leader can use to address the challenge of resistance to change (Tang, 2019). McKinsey 7s model is another popular tool that is often used to define the path that an organisation needs to take when introducing change. Other models identified in the literature search include Kotter’s change management theory and Bridges’ transition model.

Each of these models may require a unique approach of implementation, but they all emphasise the need to prepare stakeholders adequately before introducing change. They also underscore the role that a leader has to play in ensuring that there is a successful implementation of change even when numerous challenges exist. Leaders should have the capacity to determine which model is appropriate when implementing a change process depending on the capability of the workforce. It is also advisable to inform relevant stakeholders about the choice of model that would be used in the change process.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Transformational change involves a radical shift from standard practices within an organisation to a new normal. It often occurs when an organisation is introducing a new product or production method. The study shows that such changes are often propelled by the emergence of new technology or a major policy change within a given country. Unlike gradual change that happens over a long period of time and less susceptible to resistance, transformational change may face numerous challenges, the top of which is resistance from different stakeholders. As shown in the discussion above, there is always the fear that such a change may result in job loss, demotion, or unwanted transfer among employees. Those who feel threatened may make deliberate efforts to frustrate change as a way of protecting their position within the company. Sometimes such attempts may be rejected by the shareholders of the organisation when they feel that financial implications are greater than the expected returns.

Organisational leadership plays a critical role in enhancing transformational change. The management has to ensure that it addresses the problem of resistance from all the possible parties. Shareholders will need to be convinced that the intended change will have long term benefits to the organisation, especially in ensuring that it remains sustainable. Concerns of the employees, especially regarding issues such as possible loss of job or position in the firm, must be addressed before introducing change. The analysis of data also identifies the government, customers and members of the public as other major stakeholders that may stop a company from implementing change. The organisation must ensure that the planned change is implemented as per the rules and regulations set by the government. Customers can only support such a transformation if they are guaranteed superior service delivery. Members of the public are often concerned about changes that may disrupt their normal ways of life. Addressing these issues is critical in ensuring that the change process is not affected by resistance from different stakeholders.

The study has identified numerous roles that leadership has to play in an organisation’s transformational change beyond managing resistance. Creating a platform that supports creativity and innovation is another role that leaders have to play diligently. Change easily takes place in an environment where people are used to trying something new. Some leaders are rigid and often discourage their subordinates from trying new practices. Such management approaches may limit the ability of a firm to achieve transformational change when it is needed the most. Such changes also require resources to ensure that they are completed as per the expectation. The top management unit has the responsibility of budgeting for such initiatives in a way that does not disrupt other normal operational activities within the firm.

Communication is an important component of a successful transformation within an organisation. The study shows that management has an important role in ensuring that there is open communication where employees can share information amongst themselves and seek clarification from the managers. Open communication helps in addressing rumours that may have a negative impact on the implementation of a new practice. Protecting the public image of the company and engaging other external stakeholders is another role that a leader has to play. The following are the recommendations that managers should consider when planning to introduce transformational change:

  • Transformational change requires regular training of employees to ensure that they are adequately prepared for change. They should be equipped with skills that they can use to operate under the new system;
  • Leaders should ensure that they create an effective communication system that would enhance sharing of information during the period of change. Employees should easily have access to the top managers in case they want clarification over a given issue;
  • Budgeting is critical when introducing transformational change. In many cases, such a transition may require substantial investment. It is the responsibility of the top management to ensure that the needed resources are made available.
  • Leaders have the responsibility of creating a culture of innovation among employees by encouraging them to try new practices. The goal is to ensure that they are always ready to try new practices.

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