Strategic Leadership Role in Change Management

Executive Summary

The most recent debates on leadership concepts tend to stress on leadership and innovation. Innovation is one of the key matters facing businesses at the moment. Innovation and generation of new ideas are important for product development and overall productivity. Every leader knows that an organization needs a change to sustain itself. Change management is, therefore, regarded as the backbone of any organization.

Change is synonymous with strategy; hence, change management requires a strategic leader. This report aims at examining the role of strategic leadership in change management. Before delving into our main topic of study, the report defines keywords such as strategy, strategic leadership, vision, and mission statement. The report also explores strategic management processes, change management processes, change resistance, and how to manage change resistance.



Leadership is the process of putting up a practice for people to throw in their efforts to make something happen or bring change (Burns, 1978, p. 6). The kind of a leader that an organization has will determine the direction that the organization will take in terms of development. Visionary and exemplary leaders will steer an organization to prosperity and success, while inefficient leaders will drive the organization to disarray.

According to Chen and Silverthorne (2005, P. 289), the people under a leader will often derive their modes of behavior from their leader. They always look upon the leaders to give them directions and instructions aimed at steering the organization forward. The overall definition of leadership is not easy to find. However, most leadership definitions include elements found in the standard definition proposed by Stogdill (1974, p. 5).

Stogdill defined leadership as a process of influencing the actions/operations of a structured group of people to establish or achieve a specific goal. Leadership as a process entail three fundamental aspects: first, influencing people to act in a given manner; second, working with individuals as a group; and last but not least, influencing the group towards goal setting or goal attainment (Stogdill, 1974, p. 5; Sosik & Godshalk, 2000, p. 366).

On the other hand, change is a widespread feature in the life of an organization or institution, and the capability to handle such changes is the core competence of success. The main drivers of change over the last two decades have been globalization, advancement in technology, and fluctuations in the global economy. This has led to a distressing exploration of mechanisms for achieving competitive advantage through increased radical forms of change (Denti, 2012, p. 1).

For that reason, leaders need to cultivate creativity and innovation in the organization to counter the challenges that come with such changes. Also, creativity and innovation will help to improve the level of production and also to maintain the identity and the existence of the organization. When an organization is short of new ideas, then it will be forced to continue using the old ideas. These old ideas do not add any value to the organization and, therefore, contribute to the obsolescence of the organization. Innovation entails merging known ideas and practices with new ideas that have never been considered before (Deardoff, 2005, p. 15).

Report Purpose

The main focus of this report is to examine the role of strategic leadership in change management. Before delving into our main topic of study, the report defines keywords such as strategy, strategic leadership, vision, and mission statement. Besides, the report also explores strategic management processes, change management processes, change resistance, and how to manage change resistance.

Leadership Styles

Over the last century, numerous studies have been conducted on leadership. Among them are studies related to different styles of leadership (Sosik & Godshalk, 2000, p. 366). According to Northouse (2004, p. 7), leadership style is the prototype behavior of leaders and how they related to their juniors. Woods and King (2002, p. 4) define leadership style as a pattern of relations between the executive/leaders and junior staff/followers.

This includes method and mode used by the executive/leader to inspire the followers/junior followers. Several factors influence leadership styles, including the organizational environment, leadership traits, and characteristics of the junior staff/followers (Northouse, 2004, p. 8).

As a result, leadership styles can be identified following the influence and behavior of the leaders. Some of the most common leadership styles include autocratic leadership, egalitarianism, and laissez-faire (Sosik & Godshalk, 2000, p. 369). Woods and King (2002, p. 4) emphasize that different leadership styles may be embraced due to the leader’s discernment of their followers’ preferred approach. Therefore, leadership style preference could be altered following the authority exercised by a leader over the followers. For this reason, power is very important in achieving organizational goals.

One of the most common leadership styles in the current competitive business environment is the “hands-on” style, which offers stress intercession, management of operations, and relations between followers at all levels (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison, 2003, p. 5). Woods and King (2002, p. 55) confirmed that a “hands-on” management style is common in the service sector. They add that the “hands-on” style is the most effective style in realizing the work satisfactorily since most managers work closely with the junior staff and are always more concerned about their welfare. Nonetheless, there is no single ideal leadership (Bolden et al., 2003, p. 6).

On the contrary, experts argue it is never easy to embrace the laissez-faire style of leadership. This does not imply that the dictatorial style is favored. Sosik and Godshalk (2000, p.369) recommend transformational leadership, which makes efficient use of human resources. A transformational leader can develop a strong vision, which assists in clarifying and communicating organizational goals. Also, transformational leadership creates an environment that cultivates enthusiasm, loyalty, and steady improvement.

An excellent leader offers a sense of inspiration and motivation for the organization’s followers, and also helps the followers meet the organizational goals and targets. Leadership is an element that is enshrined in the behavior of an individual; this helps the individual to mentor a group of individuals to accomplish a specific target that is shared by all of them. Leadership consists of strategies that include: motivating, inspiring, and encouraging individuals to spur growth and development. It is always a philosophy that any leadership style directly reflects on the performance of the particular organization; there is a direct relationship between leadership and performance (Bolden et al., 2003, p. 9).

Today’s business environment has evolved, and it is highly competitive, this call for pragmatic and visionary leadership that can spur invention and innovation for the organization’s sustainability. Many studies that explore the relationship between leadership and organizational performance have revealed that efficient leadership has a positive impact on the development of the organization and also on the performance of the organization. The leadership provides a dynamic platform that equips the organization to handle new challenges that might come with its operations (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 81).

The organization’s performance is reflected through attaining maximum proceeds, producing high-quality products and services, efficient strategies, and excellent returns. All of these are determined by the quality of leadership that is in place in the organization. The organization’s performance is what makes the organization stand out among other competing organizations in the same line of business or operations. Also, the performance of the organization reflects the level of productivity of the followers. The level of productivity of the followers of the organization is determined by how much revenue is generated, how much profit is generated, how large the organization grows, and how large the organization expands (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 83).

Many researchers who are exploring the concept of leadership have focused their studies on how effective leadership impacts the performance and the development of organizations. Therefore, it is very important to understand the relationship between the concept of leadership and its impacts on any organization. Northouse (2004, p. 12), in his study, argued that effective leadership is the engine that drives and propels any organization.

The organization is bound to achieve economies of scale and, therefore, gaining a competitive advantage and stand out among its peers. Transactional leadership in an organization has the impact of pushing the organizational members to meet the set objectives by availing the required necessary resources.

On the other hand, visionary leadership involves looking at the future of the organization by strategically setting visions that create a sense of commitment and dedication among the organization’s members so that they work to achieve the goals. Visionary leadership has an overall impact of inculcating togetherness, dedication, trust, and motivation among the organization’s members. This, in turn, raises the organization’s level of performance (Northouse, 2004, p. 13).

Transformational leadership

The process by which a leader persuades the supporters draws the line between transformational leadership and other leadership forms. A transformational leader uses his attributes, such as his character and values, to inspire and motivate the followers. On the concept of transformational leadership, the leader and the followers work together to elevate each other. Motivation from the leader will make the followers trust the leader and be loyal and respectful to him.

Motivation also helps the followers prioritize by concentrating on the goals of the organization rather than their personal goals for the sake of the development of the organization. Transformational leadership aims to provide followers with a new mindset so that they change the ways and procedures of operations to achieve the desired results (Chen & Silverthorne, 2005, p. 282).

Chen and Silverthorne (2005, p. 283) argue that “transformational leaders have outstanding characters that set them apart.” According to scholars, transformational leaders are charismatic, motivators, intelligent, and concerned. Being charismatic helps the leader have a clear vision and a strategy for the organization and plants the same in the followers’ minds so that they can have the same mission. In the same way, the charismatic leadership enables the followers to have confidence and pride in the organization and the leader and, therefore, choose to serve the interest of the organization rather than their interest.

The second character of the leader, which is being a motivator, normally comes together with being charismatic. The leader is capable of setting up higher standards in the organization, acting as a source of motivation or inspiration to the followers. The followers, in turn, will identify the leader as a reference for higher standards. The followers normally look up to the leader as he is the source of hope and confidence to them. The leader inspires them to increase their loyalty to the organization and enable them to understand the organizational goals better (Chen & Silverthorne, 2005, p. 284).

The leader offers inspiration to the followers by telling them success stories and being confident and hopeful about the organization’s future. He encourages the followers that the future is always bright and that with hard work and dedication, all things can be achieved (Abdow, 2015, p. 5). Motivation comes from assigning the challenging task to the followers. These challenging tasks aim to open up the followers’ minds and strategically position their mindset to open up new ways of operations. The third attribute of a transformational leader is to be intelligent. The leader typically exhibits this by deliberately presenting and regulating new thoughts and ideas to the organization and, in the meantime, moving gradually from the old methods of doing things. Knowledge empowers the leader to grant to the adherents with key considering, sensibility, and critical thinking abilities (Abdow, 2015, p. 6).

The fourth attribute of the transformational leader is being concerned for the welfare of the followers. The followers need to be empowered through appropriate training and mentoring programs. The leader is in a better position to be the mentor by providing exceptional leadership to the followers. The leader should understand the followers fully so that he can determine what kind of empowerment is relevant to them. The leader should treat followers with respect and dignity and guide them to follow the correct path to attain both their individual and organizational goals (Abdow, 2015, p. 6).

Strategic Leadership

The term ‘strategy’ is very common in the business world today. However, the word ‘strategy’ has been broadly used that it has lost clear meaning. Despite the significance of strategy, there is astoundingly little consensus on what it means (Abdow, 2015, p. 9).

Nonetheless, the fact is that behind every success, there must be a strategy. According to Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015, p. 84), a strategy is an ambiguous term normally linked to long-term planning, prearranged goals, and a preferred system of creating a balance between the organizational resources and externalities. The contemporary schools of thought in strategic management strongly suggest that strategy should be comprehended as the creation of the organization’s goals, which is realized through joint effort, regarded as a constant process, and distinctive Strategic vision and core values are terms that are often used in strategic management. Strategic vision refers to the executive views on the long-term direction. On the other hand, core values are the principles and norms that help in crafting a strategic vision.

Strategic leadership is about changing an organization through its vision and qualities, traditions and environment, and arrangement and frameworks and also through its system. In doing so, administrators and officials can build up transparency, make more grounded associations, and extend their managerial credentials. Also, they can add to their association’s prosperity. So how is strategic leadership different from other forms of leadership? According to Abdow (2015, p.1), strategic leaders require diverse skills and viewpoints than other forms of leadership because of the following: first, they see the organization as interdependent and interlinked so that activities and operations of one department are seriously taken since it can affect other departments; second, they work with an expansive schedule, coordinating transient results and a long haul focus; lastly, they are usually the main initiators of organizational change. The impact of their work is felt through the organization.

For this reason, strategically leading entails finding the rare things an association needs to thrive and to expand. Just as essential is making the conditions expected to act all in all on the ramifications of that discovery. To do this, associations need to comprehend strategy as a process of learning. The motivation behind a key initiative is to drive associations to wind up persistent learning motors. Strategic leaders are the individuals who constantly create and find a strategy and hold it in a continuous condition of a plan, usage, reassessment, and update.

Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015, p. 85) explain that strategic leadership encompasses strategic reasoning, acting, and influence. Strategic reasoning takes into account organizational vision and new ways of overcoming challenges and grasping opportunities. On the other hand, strategic acting involves the coordination of efforts needed for the implementation of visions derived from efficient strategic reasoning.

Last but not least, strategic influencing is all about developing conditions of lucidity, obligation, and concerted effort throughout the organization. While we recognize the three components of how to lead strategically, it is imperative to welcome the vibrant way that strategic reasoning, acting and influencing interface with one another. They are not distinct, particular, or direct procedures. For instance, strategic leaders every so often need to work together with other partners to address an intricate hierarchical test. That includes reasoning and acting together, not simply making all decisions alone. In other words, reasoning, acting, and influencing simultaneously.

Given that there is always limited time for profound or protracted strategic reasoning before an action can be taken, strategic reasoning and acting must be done together. In a nutshell, building the capability for strategic leadership starts with a shift in institutional and personal mentality. For this reason, strategic leadership is more of a procedure and not a status. It demands the corporation from all the stakeholders and commitment to learning. Making changes in an organization is neither simple nor swift. Still, when people and groups sanction strategic leadership, the result is a maintainable upper hand for the organization (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 86).

Role of Strategic leaders in the strategic management process

Organizations are working in progressively intricate situations, in which an adjustment to external changes is fundamental. Organizations’ attempts to adjust their main goal, objectives, and procedures with the outer environment are truly the quintessence of strategic management, which is the sphere of strategic leadership. Numerous researchers and specialists concur that organizations’ efficiency is affected by the level of fit between their interior qualities and external factors in the large scale environment. This procedure of adjustment is emphatically affected by the elucidations strategic leaders make of the surrounding. Interpretation of internal and external surroundings has an expansive impact on prospective actions that strategic leaders make to stay focused and to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage (Abdow, 2015, p. 10).

One region in which change is definite is the international competitive environment. Nearly every organization, vast or small, confronts rivalry for basic assets and business sector opportunities from rivals in the domestic front and from far off and regularly remote areas of the world. How fruitful an organization is at taking advantage of new prospects, and managing related dangers depends essentially on leadership capability to develop a worldwide mentality among executives and subordinates. It is about streamlining the association to perceive change not as a risk, but rather as an open door. Now and again, change is activated by an unanticipated occurrence with considerable negative impact.

Additionally, basic for strategists working in this period of high competition, globalization, and technical transformation is the need to take quick actions. Strategists must react faster to meet immediate and future demands. This is where strategic planning becomes possibly the most important factor. The pressure brought about by the hyper-competitive global environment has forced many organizations to ignore planning to act quicker (Abdow, 2015, p. 11).

According to Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015, p. 82), attaining success in the current business environment is neither an easy affair nor an accidental event. This is made possible by decisions made by strategic leaders. Executives must follow up on the organization’s interior and outside situations, build organization assets and abilities, monitor industry patterns, look for new opportunities, identify emerging threats, and develop vision and mission for the organization. All the above constitutes what is commonly referred to as strategic leadership. It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of strategic leadership in today’s vibrant and dubious business setting. It is one of the crucial elements considered basic to an organization’s capacity to adjust, develop, and succeed amid a turbulent environment.

Even though many writers have offered different versions of what a strategic leader is, they all appear to agree that a strategic leader must anticipate, envision, and work with other stakeholders to initiate changes in an organization that will ensure sustainable competitive advantage. Strategic leadership must be all-encompassing; that is, it should involve everybody in the organization from top to bottom. However, the executive must be held responsible for the company’s short-term performances and develop an environment that guarantees the organization’s survival (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 102)

. As per Abbas and Asghar (2010), strategic leaders must be capable of the following: first, they should be able to anticipate and predict events in the exterior environment that have a considerable effect on the performance of the business; second, they should be able to find and sustain competitive advantage by developing core competencies and prospecting markets; third, they should be capable of assessing strategy execution and outcome analytically, and making necessary alterations; fourth, they should be able to build a highly efficient and inspired team; fifth, they should be able to decide on suitable objectives and priorities for realizing them; lastly, they should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Nevertheless, a strategic leader may opt to focus on decision-making at the top and delegate other duties. This approach is favored by many organizations since it has a considerable impact on followers or followers in terms of their motivation and commitment. The delegation of responsibilities creates a sense of belonging and enhances strategic thinking from top to bottom. Also, it provides leaders with ample time to address key issues.

All the above operations and roles of strategic leaders fall under the domain of strategic management. The main question and focal issue in strategic management are why certain organizations are doing well while others are doing poorly. The answer to this question is pegged on the role of strategic leadership in the organization. One of the principal roles of a strategic leader is ensuring that the strategic management process is efficaciously accomplished to yield a positive outcome. A fundamental difference between strategic leadership and strategic management is that strategic leadership envisages where the organization ought to be in the future.

In contrast, strategic management concentrates on how to achieve long-term goals or objectives. Strategic leadership and strategic management are interdependent; that is, they strengthen and support each other. However, in most cases, this is not always true. There are numerous cases nowadays, where strategic leadership has completely failed (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 103).

Strategic management process

As mentioned above, organizational success depends on the decisions and actions of the executive all through the strategic management process. The strategic management process starts with the formulation of a strategic vision. Strategic vision refers to where the organization wishes and wants to be later on, given the environment in which it operates. The vision statement establishes a framework for the advancement of a statement of purpose (mission statement) that mirrors the organization’s core values, convictions, philosophy, and goals (Abdow, 2015, p. 11). The statement of purpose answers the question, “what is the organization’s drive?” It identifies the organization’s scope of activities and market conditions. The formulation of strategic vision is followed by the definition of long-term goals, which is essentially defining results that an organization is striving to accomplish to achieve its mission.

The last stage involves SWOT analysis or simply internal and external environmental audits. SWOT is an abbreviation for strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is carried out before the formulation of strategy. The perpetually vibrant nature of the external environment calls for an occasional reassessment of an organization’s current strategies and vision, purpose, and long haul targets. Strategy formulation indicates the methodologies for accomplishing an organization’s targets. Strategies are the ways of achieving the objectives. Strategy execution happens through fundamental organizational design that ensures that the entire process is successful. Last but not least, the strategic management process also involves strategy evaluation when the actual results and compared to expected results after the execution of the strategy (Abdow, 2015, p. 12).

Managing Change

Change management is the execution of a new strategy. Change is always part and parcel of leadership; that is why it is incorporated in the definition of leadership. Remember, we defined leadership as a process of putting up a practice for people to throw in their efforts to make something happen or bring change. Other authors have defined leadership as swaying leaders and supporters to accomplish certain targets through change.

The main emphasis of different leadership styles has always been on change and not the status quo. In the current stormy and competitive environment, where change is part and parcel of life, organizations must continually adapt to new events or circumstances to survive and remain focused. Companies and state establishments invest a huge amount of resources on change efforts. Example of change efforts includes process enhancement, streamlining operations, acquiring or merging companies or institutions, adoption of new technologies, embracing a new culture, change in leadership and many more (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 112)

Change can be transformational or progressive, and once in a while, a progressive change can develop into a much greater and drastic change than was expected. In a few cases, far-reaching change might require a redefinition of vision and statement of purpose, and subsequently change in plan and targets. Organizational change is any move that requires an adjustment in individual output. Change is about individuals doing things another way (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 113).

Why do we need to change? In the last 20 years, many authors have provided more information on processes that bring about institutional stability than those that explicate institutional change. However, speedy environmental changes are bringing on major changes that are dramatically affecting organizations and bringing in new threats and prospects for leaders. Therefore, writings on organizational change are progressively being seen as adjustment of structures, frameworks, and procedures, as well as the change in leadership style. Leaders must acknowledge the need to impart novel mission when conditions merit such initiatives.

The first step to change management involves identifying and analyzing the need for change before the execution plan. A thorough analysis that provides a lucid and meticulous evaluation of the existing conditions in the interior and exterior environment should be a precondition before initiating any change management process (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 114).

Pretty much every sort of organization is confronting an exterior environment typified by swift socio-economic and technological changes, as well as stiff local and global competition. These changes have opened new business prospects, such as fewer trade barriers and new markets in developing economies. On the other hand, it has created new threats in the form of local and global rivalry, technological obsolescence, rapid innovation, and short product life cycle.

Some scholars are of the view that threats are what bring about real change. They argue that real change cannot occur without any form of external threat that exposes the organization’s internal flaws (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 82). Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015, p. 83) emphasize the need to develop a sense of urgency, which they refer to as survival anxiety. Survival anxiety means having a feeling that unless changes are effected in an organization, there is a risk of running out of business. According to Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015, p. 84), survival anxiety is a necessary condition, but not sufficient condition for influencing change.

This is because there is always a possibility of change resistance as a result of learning anxiety. It is because of this reason that several scholars believe that real change cannot be effected until the followers are bought or convinced. Awareness of the need for change, a leader’s capability to persuade followers to rise above their interest for the sake of the institutional goal, underlines the significance of competent leadership in executing change.

Role of a strategic leader in executing change

Despite the developing agreement that change is significant if an organization is to develop and flourish in the present and future environment, influencing change, particularly noteworthy change, is still not a simple undertaking. Numerous change endeavors do not meet the expectancy of the organization. The accompanying three measurements recount the story: around three-quarters of mergers and acquisitions among Western organizations fail to achieve their monetary targets or anticipated cooperative energies; less than half of organizations experiencing rebuilding, (for example, cutting back) attain the projected costs or revenue; and around a third of all mergers and acquisitions usually tumble completely (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 82).

A vital focal test for some leaders in overseeing individuals amid the change process and managing resistance. Imperviousness to change and the nonattendance of effectual leadership are key reasons why most change endeavors fail. While emphasizing on the role of effectual leadership, a research conducted in France uncovered that the probability of follower resistance mirrors the sort of influence a leader utilizes and the style of leadership (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 114).

There is a developing interest in comprehending how to enhance the degree of success of change efforts. Professionals emphasize on the significance of leadership inclusion all through the strategic management process.

There has been increased emphasis on procedures that leaders can utilize to oversee change instead of responding to it efficiently. These strategies entail clarifying motives behind change efforts; having unconfined and normal interchanges, a guide for execution, and preparing programs for requisite competencies/aptitudes; shaping an alliance of followers and specialists on the ground amid the early phases of the change process; finishing what has been started regardless of supposed challenges; perceiving and remunerating the commitments of others to the procedure; deliberately overseeing assets and needs; keeping the procedure straightforward; and to wrap things up, having an arrangement for managing resistance (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 115). Leadership should attempt to eradicate arrangements, systems, and practices that undermine the change efforts.

Followers who are responsible for actualizing change must make sure that the conduct of their leaders is fair in terms of partaking in the difficulties of the change. The leader should be willing to adjust his or her conduct if it helps to minimize resistance. A leader must encapsulate the change that he or she needs to find in devotees. This is in line with Mahatma Gandhi, who stated that every individual should embody the change he or she wants to see.

Finally, a genuine change representative must be an excellent listener. As a result, they help the leadership in comprehending the source of resistance. A greater comprehension of the motive behind change can help the leader develop a better solution. Eventually, the leader’s role is to actualize change that leads to enhanced performance; in any case, the question has consistently been how to carry it out efficiently and meritoriously, given the anxiety, distress, and separation connected with it. For instance, a change in leadership might influence individuals’ early trust in the new leader, correspondences with the new leader, encouragement to work, job fulfillment, and even turnover.

The change management process portrayed above enhances the odds of fruitful change execution and the probability that more individuals will back and focus on the change execution as opposed to it. It is an instrument or the way to get to the outcome (Abbas & Asghar, 2010, p. 116).

Change Management process

Numerous scholars and researchers suggest seeing change as a process, not an item. The change process is a way of transforming an organization and an approach to understanding the novel vision for the organization. It necessitates traveling through several phases and implementing distinctive assignments, including performing a hierarchical review, strategizing, planning the change methodology, corresponding, influencing others, and solidifying the change.

It takes compelling transformational leadership to perform every one of these exercises (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 86). One of the initial and most broadly utilized change process models is the force-field theory. This model suggests that the change procedure is classified into three phases, that is, unfreezing phase, changing phase, and refreezing phase. A more current theoretical model is the eight-stage theory of arranged hierarchical change. The two theories are interdependent and support each other.

They only differ in the execution phase. The eight-stage theory of arranged hierarchical change offers substantially additional information in the execution stage that is its counterpart. It proves eight sequential steps matched to one another. The model involves the following: establishing a sense of urgency, forming a support group, communicating the vision although the organization; training and empowering followers, permitting short-term achievements and rewarding good performance; and institutionalizing the change process (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 87).

Going back to the stages in force field theory, the unfreezing phase is normally initiated by charismatic and transformational leaders. Followers are often made aware of the need for change. The charismatic and transformational leaders usually motivate followers with a dream of a greater future that is adequately alluring to persuade them that the long-standing methods for working together are no more satisfactory. This acknowledgment might happen as a consequence of an instant crisis, or it might come about because of the endeavors of a transformational leader capable of describing dangers and prospects that are still unknown to many individuals in the organization.

The key is to distinguish the issues or dangers confronting the organization that calls for an immediate need for change. It is essential to spend more time at this stage to unearth looming danger and its origin(s) because whatever remains in the later stages will be the emphasis on a particular threat. Individuals must be persuaded of the need for change, and attention to the wrong danger and underlying drivers can convolute later phases of the change management process. When supporters are not persuaded of the need for change or do not comprehend it, there is a more prominent probability of resistance (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 87).

The changing phase is where the real change happens. It is the execution stage. At this stage, individuals search for a leader to help them find better approaches for doing things. The absence of a deliberately composed arrangement of activity at this stage will bring about an unsatisfying result. As specified over, the distinction between the power field model and the eight-stage model happens amid this stage.

Last but not least, the refreezing stage is where old approaches are completely abolished and replaced. Complete change can take place when requisite behavior turns into norms. Refreezing entails the institutionalization of new habits and culture. This phase is crucial since resistance that ought to have been ironed out may resurface, bringing about antagonism (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 88).

Resistance to change

From an organization’s context, resistance can be said to mean the subsequent reaction of the follower in regards to his/her disapproval of the proposed change. Follower resistance has been identified as the main reason why many organizations lag regarding the implementation of their strategy. The resistance of the followers to change has consequences in regards to the management because of the significant role that the followers play to contribute to the success of any organization; therefore, follower resistance to organization’s change is a very vital element that needs to be given keen attention in the course of the development of the organization (Coetsee, 1999, p. 60). Two notions of the organization exist goal succession and goal change. Goal succession occurs when the organization has already met the previously set goals and now has to set new ones.

On the other hand, goal change occurs when the organization has failed to meet its set goals and have to set new ones. The goals of a business are not permanent. Almost all establishments change their goals from time to time to remain viable. With the advancement of technology, new ways and processes of doing things have emerged. This has called for organizations to modify their goals from time to time. The resistant followers are perceived as radicals who believed that the goals and the views of the organization clashed with their own individual goals and needs. Resistance is an impediment to change, and for change to occur, organizations need to eliminate resistance (Coetsee, 1999, p. 64).

Many researchers have argued that conflicts in many organizations are caused by follower resistance. The unity of the followers is considered to be a strength to the organization. But when the followers have divergent views and attitudes towards a new proposed change, the organization will be highly affected. These different precepts and approaches are the contributing factors to follower resistance. Some followers can argue that the proposed change will result in unemployment; others may have the belief that the proposed change can lower remunerations or allowances, while others might say that the change will no longer need their skills and talents.

Therefore, this implies that the bigger problem to solve in this case is not resistant to change, but rather to look at the bigger picture of the outcomes of the change. Organizations have basic goals and supportive goals. The supportive goals are aimed at helping them attain basic goals. The goals are changed in line with the vision of the organization. There are some instances where there is a great demand for change regarding the ways of operation to enable it to remain viable (Woods & King, 2002, p. 77).

Follower resistance greatly impacts the stability of the organization. The current business environment calls for flexibility due to the pressure emanating from the inside and outside of the business environment. This has called for organizations to try to strike a balance between the stability of the organization and the business continuity. Organizations realize this by controlling the implementation of the change processes while keeping in mind the viability of the organization. Many scholars have outlined that it is not the change that the followers are opposed to, but rather the likely aftermaths that come with the change (Woods & King, 2002, p. 78).

In a nutshell, the management of organizations must recognize the nature of the resistance to be the sign for the cause of the resistance. The management should eradicate the symptoms of change rather than wait to cure the consequences. The second advantage of the change process is that it brings about an inflow of energy to the followers/followers. The followers will realize that there is an urgent need for the organization for growth and expansion.

Follower resistance has a positive element to it. It helps the organizations to point out the harmful elements of the proposed changes. This is attributed to the fact that the organization will take a considerable time to investigate what it is that hinders the followers from embracing the change. After identifying the problem, organizations will change certain aspects of the change to mold it so that the followers will appreciate it. This will motivate them to put more effort into the existing procedures to improve the quality of the output and efficiency. Also, the implementations of the change need extra energy (Woods & King, 2002, p. 79).

When the resistance is intolerable to the organization, the management should use motivational techniques to address the situation. Another advantage that comes with the follower resistance to change is that it creates an avenue to explore other substitute procedures to absorb the clash of interests. Management of organizations should make rational decisions that provide an avenue to explore other possible solutions to the existing problem of follower resistance. It is not easy to implement change in an organization when the followers are reflexive. This calls for an urgency to address the problem that is in existence.

In the case of the existence of the followers’ resistance, the management should closely examine the nature of the resistance to devise the possible solutions. The management should keep in mind to maintain the balance between the stability of the organization and the implementation of the change. In their studies, many researchers have pointed out that follower resistance remains a top obstacle to the development of organizations. The scholars have categorized follower resistance into 2, for instance, attitudinal resistance and behavioral resistance. The followers’ resistance can be demonstrated by the followers’ not showing interest, having negative attitudes, having negative views, engaging in go-slows and boycotts, and violent behaviors (Woods & King, 2002, p 79).

Several scholars have explored real causes of change resistance. As already been mentioned, change resistance can be caused by psychological factors. This can be attributed to the attitude of the followers/ follower. In the case of followers, they need to have a positive attitude to their work. Past failures also contribute to the resistance to the psychological factors hindering the organization’s change. When a follower had tried to change and work out something different but failed, the follower will not be motivated to change, but rather maintain the same way of doing things. When the followers do not have faith in the management of the organization, it affects them psychologically.

In the same way, followers will oppose any change that has been suggested. The frustrations of the followers at the workplace are another contributing factor in regards to the psychological factors. Frustrations will affect the attitude of the follower, which in turn affects the same follower psychologically. In the same way, anxiety and fear will also influence followers psychologically; thus, affecting how the followers embrace the organization’s change (Coetsee, 1999, p. 66).

The second factor that causes the followers’ resistance is the money-oriented nature of the followers. When the wages or salaries are low, the followers will highly resist change because followers will feel that any change will make them worse off than the current situation at hand. The threat to the security of jobs will also hinder followers from embracing change. Another element in line with this is comfort. Followers who feel comfortable with their current position and status in the organization will not embrace change. Maybe followers are enjoying certain rights and privileges that can be lost when the change occurs (Coetsee, 1999, p. 66).

The third factor that contributes to change resistance is the constant abilities of the followers. Some followers have existing skills and have not added more skills on top of their current skills. Organization’s change may make their skills obsolete, and in the process, the followers will lose their jobs. These followers will seriously oppose any form of organization’s change for the sake of their sustainability.

Similarly, an organization may have a big gap between the highly capable followers and the lowly capable followers. Organization’s change is meant to bridge that gap by introducing new concepts in regards to the execution of duties, but unfortunately, many organizations find it expensive and time-consuming. Thus, the organizations may take a step back in regards to the organization’s change (Coetsee, 1999, p. 67).

The fourth and the last factor that has been identified by scholars as a contributing factor to the change resistance is the followers’ concern for their organization. When the followers identify faults in the organization and realize that the change is not beneficial to the organization or the followers, then the followers will strongly disagree with the change. In the same way, the followers and the management of the organization might have a big clash of opinions in regards to how the organization’s change should be implemented. In such a scenario, followers could be at loggerheads for quite some time, and it can take long before the followers, and the organization reaches an amicable solution.

The owner of the organization and the followers can have a clash of opinions regarding the organization’s goal. The owner of the organization might have goals that are materialistic and self-centered to him. On the other hand, the followers will need goals that are beneficial and safeguard their future (Coetsee, 1999, p. 68).

Managing change resistance

Several authors have written articles about managing followers’ resistance to the organization. The top managers need to understand the concept of resistance to come up with the appropriate methods of handling follower resistance. Once the management goes wrong from the onset, then an amicable solution cannot be forthcoming. The followers also have a role to play when the resistance to change does no work to their advantage.

Therefore, understanding the concept of resistance is a dual concept that involves both parties, for instance, the leaders and the followers. Many writers have identified follower participation in the organization’s decision-making process as a potential remedy to their resistance to change. Many scholars have explored this concept of followers’ participation since the 1940s.

The followers should be involved in the processes, for example, planning for the change, facilitating the training programs to equipping the followers with the relevant skills, and implementing the change itself. When this happens, the attitude and the perceptions of the followers in regards to the change will be streamlined in line with the goals of the organization. This will make them receptive to the proposed change, rather than oppose it (Coetsee, 1999, p. 122).

Follower participation ensures that the followers support the change and be part of the change process. The followers put their heads together with the leaders in a roundtable and consult heavily through constant communication and information sharing. This represents the fact that the followers are committed to the change process rather than just complying. Many organizations that anticipate a higher resistance level often resort to follower participation in the change process to avoid the instances of heavy debates and arguments. The management of the organization wants to keep the resistance level to a bare minimum to adopt the change that the organization needs.

Before initiating the change process, the top management should know the level of the anticipated change for the sake of preparation in advance. This will guide them on the parameters to use in the process of implementation. Also, the nature of the resistance should be evaluated pre-emptively to determine the pros and cons of the resistance.

Follower resistance can also be managed by constant communication with followers. The followers need to know about the proposed change in advance, and the followers should be given time to fully understand the nature of the change and the likely benefits that the change will have on their role as followers. Change is inevitable, and at some point in any organization, it has to occur. Therefore, communication is seen as an act of preventing likely fallout in the organization’s structure.

The organization’s structural change should not take the followers by surprise, but rather the followers should anticipate it in advance. Communication involves a lot of sharing of information and presenting facts (Coetsee, 1999, p. 125). Planning for the change is very important for the stability of the organization. There are changes that, if implemented, will positively impact the organization.

On the contrary, there are some changes that, if implemented, can destabilize the organization. Some changes are costly and expensive to implement. When such a change backfires, the organization can be in deep trouble.

Similarly, some changes can lead to massive follower turnover, which is a reputational risk to the organization. Planning, therefore, is a necessary element for the successful implementation of the change. Planning involves carrying out an overview or an assessment of the situation in advance to have an idea of what the people on the ground say. The surveys involve directly interviewing some selected followers as a representation of the entire population. The aim here is to have a feeling and an understanding of their perceptions (Coetsee, 1999, p. 126).

Followers’ resistance to change is still considered an intricate spectacle because it has both positive and negative dimensions of the organization at large. Managing followers’ resistance is very important to the organization (Boal & Hooijberg, 2001, p. 555). Successful implementation of the change implies that all factors have been considered and evaluated and that the final change will not make the organization more harm than good.

The two components of followers’ resistance, which are procedural conflicts and goal conflicts, should also be taken into account when handling the situation. Proper utilization of the current organization’s resources will mean that the leader is in close contact with the rest of the followers. Followers’ resistance has a direct impact on the performance of the organization in the long run. Keen argued that “just one-third of the many corporate changes end up succeeding.” The natural behavior of the followers instigates the followers’ resistance. Normally, in any given scenario of followers’ resistance, the management often has their interests at heart over the interests of the rest of the followers; this causes them to resist change (Boal & Hooijberg, 2001, p. 557).

A structural change in the organization that involves the introduction of machinery to replace the work efforts of the existing followers will be met with hostility by the followers. This will be viewed as a plot to get rid of the followers. The followers will oppose structural changes in regards to moving the office to a new location because the followers will have additional transportation expenses. In the same way, moving the office from one location to another will make the followers shift to a new location and lose touch with family or friends. Structural changes that involve the introduction of a new leader will be met with hostility if the potential leader is a no-nonsense and a ruthless person. Also, there are structural changes that come with the restructuring of the organization’s hierarchy.

These changes can lead to the potential loss of some job titles which the followers feel is not safe. Some structural changes in the organization normally come at a bad time when the organization of the followers is already facing problems. At this point, it is not easy to embrace the proposed change because of the current problems that are in the organization. For instance, if different heads of department clash over an issue regarding a proposed change, their various supporters might also clash in regards to the proposed changes. Timing, therefore, is of the essence regarding the implementation of the change process.

While other followers spend much of their energy on resenting change, another group is more than willing to welcome and accept the change. Many factors are attributed to the welcoming of the change by a section of the followers. Many scholars have pointed out that the main reason followers welcome change is because the followers want to send a sign to the top leadership that the followers are willing to take the organization to the next level. Still, first, some issues need to be selectively addressed to achieve this objective. The followers who jump in to embrace the proposed change normally have high expectations in terms of the benefits that are expected to come by. The structural change can come with a pay rise, or elevation to the next level in terms of status and position (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 87).

It can also bring about a sense of job security, which pacifies the anxieties of the followers. The other factors that have been identified by scholars as to contribute to the followers’ reception of structural change are: additional responsibilities brought about by the structural changes. These responsibilities build on the followers’ level of experience, which is very beneficial to the followers. The followers will be motivated to embrace change if there are expectations to increase the volume of self-satisfaction. Satisfaction comes with a feeling that an objective has been accomplished, and a new status has been achieved. Followers also embrace change because of the urge to explore new challenges in their careers, thus allowing them to have a challenging job with many benefits (Dudin & Al-rbabah, 2015, p. 88).


Leadership has evolved continuously throughout the years, passing through various stages. The evolution of leadership can be traced from the pre-industrialization period to the modern internet era. Leadership is the capacity to put in order a group of people to accomplish a common objective or bring change. On the other hand, strategic leadership is about changing an organization through its vision and qualities, traditions and environment, arrangement and frameworks, and system. Since strategy is synonymous to change, strategic leadership essentially involves managing change in an organization or institution.

It involves the institutionalization of new habits and culture. However, there are instances where followers may resist change; hence, it is the strategic leader’s responsibility to make sure that this does not happen. Change resistance can be avoided by incorporating followers in the strategic management process, and through constant communication and motivation.


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