Willa Seldon’s Leadership Style at the Tides Centre

Introduction

The leadership field is evolving at a high rate. Initially, leadership focused on studying individual leaders. Nevertheless, today, leadership touches on the working environment, leaders, peers, and organizational culture, among other factors. Today, individual personalities or differences do not characterize leadership. Rather, people view leadership as shared, relational, and intricate (Avolio 25-28). Attempts to come up with a clear understanding of leadership have led to the establishment of numerous leadership theories. These theories were established based on leadership qualities and characteristics exhibited by various leaders. Most of the existing leadership theories perceive leadership as a relationship or a process.

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Other theories perceive leadership as specific behaviors. In all the existing leadership theories, there is mutual agreement that leadership entails swaying a group of people with the aim of realizing certain objectives (Avolio 29-33). This paper aims at using the existing leadership theories and knowledge about the application of leadership in organizations to evaluate Willa Seldon’s leadership at the Tides Centre. Additionally, the paper will use the knowledge of change management to evaluate Seldon’s strategic planning and the implementation of her strategic plans. Finally, the writer will confirm if he could have used similar strategies to those applied by Seldon to run Tides Centre. If not, the writer will describe the changes he could have made to ensure that the company achieved its goals.

Leadership theories

Based on character traits portrayed by different leaders, scholars have come up with varied leadership theories. Among this leadership, theories include skills theory, situational theory, and transformational theory (Den Hartog et al. 19-34). The different theories try to explain why some leaders are successful in achieving certain organizational goals and why they use certain models in executing their leadership roles. After realizing that the trait theory had numerous flaws, scholars came up with the skills theory. The theorists sought to identify some of the skills that made certain leaders successful.

Hence, the theory focuses on the leader. According to the skills theory, the success of any leader depends on his or her technical skills, conceptual skills, and the ability to deal with people (Sims et al. 148-153). Looking at the leadership that Seldon exhibits in Tides Centre, one can use the skills theory to evaluate her success. Seldon has the capacity to deal with human capital or employees as underscored by her ability to establish and relate well with different management organs within the organization. Having worked with different organizations, Seldon knows that the success of any organization lies in the ability to involve all stakeholders in coming up with organizational mission and vision as well as the strategies to achieve the vision.

The move to delegate various leadership roles to individual employees and call for an All-Hand meeting regularly is well calculated. Seldon is well versed in dealing with employees, and she knows that one way of winning an employee’s trust is by involving and consulting them in different organizational issues, thus achieving organizational goals. This aspect underlines the reason why she makes an extra move to meet with every employee individually. The meeting helps her identify the strengths and weaknesses of all employees, hence managed to assign them to specific responsibilities based on their capacities. Seldon is technically qualified. She initiates discussions that she knows will stir all the staff and make them think about where the company has failed to meet its objectives. Moreover, the terms she uses in her discussions prove that she knows how to make employees come up with reliable ways of identifying with the organization. Instead of the term “project,” she comes up with the term “customer,” which helps her stir the desire by employees to improve on their performance standards.

Effective leadership entails both acts of management and leadership. This aspect is in line with the situational leadership theory. Based on the degree of each of these vital acts, leaders can use four different leadership styles, viz. delegating, directing, coaching, and supporting (Sims et al. 154-159). Seldon is purposeful in her direction. Consequently, she evaluates the abilities of her followers prior to delegating specific duties to them. Before making an appointment, Seldon evaluates the applicants to make sure that they have the desired qualities. In her selection of members to run the Strategic Action Team, Seldon consulted the senior management team to ensure that she hired qualified personnel. Seldon opts to delegate the role of coming up with strategies to transform Tides Centre into a customer-centric organization since by involving other employees in this activity, the entire organization would embrace the established policies. Seldon had just joined Tides Centre; hence, employees would probably oppose any move to impose new policies, particularly from a person who knows little about the company.

Desire for high performance in all organizations is compelling organizational leaders to look for ways and means to inspire their followers. Leaders are gradually adopting a transformational leadership style to inspire their cohorts. Transformational leaders are visionary, risk-takers, daring, inspiring, and thoughtful thinkers (Avolio et al. 951-954). Seldon understands that by inspiring her employees, Tides Centre would enhance its operations. This understanding underlines why she involves all her employees in establishing organizational mission and vision. For an organization to succeed, it has to have a consistent mission, vision, and established organizational values. Seldon induces a sense of meaning to her staff in a bid to transform her followers. Besides, she challenges the employees in order to make them go a step further in looking for ways to enhance organizational performance. She makes calculated moves in all her undertakings. For instance, she poses the question of what employees would perceive as the main reasons for organizational failure if Tides Centre failed to meet its goals. The question intends to inspire the employees to look for all possible loopholes that might lead to organizational failure and come up with measures to address them. In a way, she empowers the employees to make decisions on matters affecting organizational performance.

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Employees feel inspired when given the responsibility of making a decision on matters that affect them directly. A transformational leader exhibits intellectual stimulation (Avolio et al. 961-968). The leader spurs creativity and innovation in his or her employees. The leader allows his or her followers to come up with new ideas and never criticize their mistakes publicly. Seldon understands that for Tides Centre to attain its goals, employees and especially the managers must assume the responsibility of acting as the change agents rather than being the targets for change. She establishes the M-Team to ensure that senior managers meet with the middle managers and share ideas on what they need to do to enhance organisational performance. Through brainstorming, the two groups of managers would come up with innovative strategic directions for the organisation. The two groups of managers are responsible for daily operations within the organisation. Hence, they are aware of the hardships they encounter during their operations, which leaves them in a better position of coming up with creative strategies to deal with these hardships.

An organisation requires understanding the level of employee satisfaction to determine if it is heading in the right direction. It is hard for employees to give their best if they are not satisfied. One way of measuring employee satisfaction is by conducting a thorough employee evaluation (Avolio et al. 961), which can be done through the help of a 360 degree appraisal instrument. Seldon emphasises on implementing this appraisal instrument in the company since it helps immensely in determining the level of employee satisfaction and the nature of their relationships with other staff. She intends to come up with an appraisal method that gives room for employees to appraise their colleagues. Such a method would help the organisation in establishing a picture of how employees relate with one another, thus looking for measures to enhance cooperation between the employees. Moreover, this approach would help in determining the degree of organisational commitment to achieving its goals. For decades, Tides Centre has not been conducting employee appraisal to all staff members. Hence, the company has not known those staff that are committed to organisational goals and those that are not.

Change management strategies

When one intends to introduce change in an organisation, he or she ought to consider numerous factors. Prior to change implementation, a leader should evaluate the organisation to determine if the intended change will have negative or positive effects. Moreover, the leader is supposed to come up with a picture of how the organisation will look like after implementation of the change (Bouckenooghe 500-531). Involving all stakeholders in change management reduces chances of resistance. It is hard for an organisation to implement changes if it does not have proper communication channels. Besides, the implemented changes are likely to force some employees to change their roles. Hence, leaders ought to come up with a solid plan to assist the affected employees in moving to their new roles.

In introducing change in Tides Centre, Seldon started by assessing organisational readiness to any change. In her first meeting with senior managers, she talked about her likes and dislikes as a way to determine if the management were ready to embrace her leadership. She conducted personal interviews with all employees within the company. Some of the employees may have seen such a move as time consuming. However, this direct interaction with all the employees gave her a clear understanding of the organisation, thus knowing where to start when implementing the intended change. Seldon established the Strategic Action Team as an organ to help in preparing the company for the coming change. The team had the mandate of looking for solutions to problems that affected the company. In other words, the team would help the company identify all areas that hinder its growth and prepare for relevant remedies to address the problems.

In Kotter’s model of change management, he argues that it is hard for change agents to realise their objectives if they do not establish a sense of urgency (Kotter 93). Organisational leaders and employees need to feel that the changes are overdue in their organisation and thus they need to do something urgently to avoid further delay. Presenting statistical data on how the company has been performing poorly cannot help in creating urgency (Kotter 101). Instead, the change agents should initiate an open dialogue about the changes in the business environment and the position of the company in the market. When employees start discussing this issue, they would see the need for urgent changes thus supporting the implementation plan. By holding the All-Hands meetings, Seldon manages to update all her employees on the position of Tides Centre. Besides, by assigning different responsibilities aimed at helping the company come up with a strategic direction to different people, she gives all the stakeholders an opportunity to know their company and identify the problems affecting it. This move allows the stakeholders to see the need for urgent changes in the company if they need to witness a projected growth.

Employees would only be in a position to realise the intended organisational changes if they have a clear picture of the changes and understand the requisite steps to follow to achieve these changes. This aspect underlines why leaders are required to articulate their intended changes in ways that all the stakeholders understand. Failure to ensure that all the stakeholders have a clear picture of the changes may lead to the failure of the implementation process or the stakeholders might stray from the expected changes. Seldon involves all the stakeholders in curving out the mission and vision of the organisation to ensure that they have a clear image of the intended changes. In this way, she ensures that there is no inconsistency in all the departments. All departments work together towards a common vision. Besides, involving all the stakeholders in the establishment of organisational mission and vision helps Seldon arouse their creativity in coming up with strategies to achieve this vision.

Through developing organisational mission and vision, employees come up with the nature of the organisation they want. Hence, as they work towards its realisation, they have a clear view of the relevant changes that would facilitate in this course. By coming up with the Strategic Action Team, Seldon hoped to enhance cooperation within Tides Centre and boost employee motivation. The establishment of numerous teams within Tides Centre was to ensure that all stakeholders have an idea of what lacks in the company and the measures to take thereafter. For instance, the M-Team would bring together middle and senior managers to deliberate on the appropriate measures to use in establishing a strategic direction for the company. Poor communication between the two groups had made it hard for the groups to learn from each other. Nevertheless, through Seldon’s assistance, the groups got a chance to meet and work together towards the establishment of strategies to implement changes in Tides Centre.

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In any organisation, change implementation process is doomed to fail if it does to receive the support from organisational leaders. Consequently, any change agents ought to ensure that organisational leaders buy-in to their proposed changes (Spreitzer 1077-1098). One of the strategies used by Seldon to ensure that leaders buy-in to her ideas is holding regular meetings with senior managers. Besides, she comes up with the M-Team to facilitate in the change implementation process. The team comprises of senior and middle managers. She deliberately allows this team to come up with strategies to apply in achieving organisational change, which makes the managers act as change agents thus allowing them embrace the changes. By holding the All-Hands meeting regularly, Seldon manages to lure all the stakeholders to rally behind her in support of changes in the organisation. She ensures that the company comes up with values and mission that are acceptable by every staff member. Allowing the staff to develop the organisational values and standards is one of methods that Seldon applies to earn support from all the staff members.

In most cases, employees oppose changes implemented without their consent. They fear losing their jobs or having to adopt new ways of doing things in their workplaces (Hodgkinson and Healy 387-417). However, Seldon gave the staff the liberty to come up with organisational values and mission, which convinced the employees that she managed Tides Centre transparently, thus they accepted to embrace changes. Seldon knows that Tides Centre would only witness changes if she comes up with a powerful coalition. Her establishment of a Strategic Action Team would enable her create a coalition to assist her in influencing other leaders to embrace the intended changes. In addition, she continues recruiting people for varied responsibilities. Seldon hires people she had worked with previously in other institutions. She does this to establish a strong group that would help in ensuring that changes are implemented across entire organisation. She raises emotional questions during her meetings with the senior managers as a way of inculcating the sense of urgency in the management team. This strategy helps in stirring the desire in managers to ensure that the organisation achieves the set objectives.

For an effective change implementation process, change agents not only deserve to involve the organisational leaders in the process, but also ensure that they effectively communicate the desired changes to all stakeholders. Prior to change implementation, change agents ought to establish a communication strategy and plan aimed at ensuring that all leaders accept the changes (Herold et al. 942-951). Seldon ensures that she communicates regularly with all the stakeholders through holding regular meetings. The All-Hands meetings gives her a platform through which she informs the managers about the progress made so far in achieving the intended changes. Seldon ensures that the organisational vision remains fresh in the minds of all the stakeholders by always talking about the changes and assigning duties aimed at achieving the changes to different staff. She organises interviews with every employee in the organisation to assist in identifying the needs of every employee. Seldon took over leadership at a time when there was a lot of anxiety after the layoff of several employees. Consequently, it would have been hard for employees to embrace change for such a move would seemingly amount to signing their own termination papers. She holds interviews with all employees to clear the anxiety and show them that the intended changes would help in improving their welfare in the company. Besides, she takes an active role in implementing the changes thus winning trust from other leaders.

Personal reflection

If I were in Willa Seldon’s position, I would have managed things in the same way though with slight differences in some areas. It is difficult for a leader to assume leadership in a new organisation and implement changes without facing resistance from other organisational leaders and employees. Before initiating changes, a leader ought to build a rapport with all the stakeholders (Anderson and Anderson 89). Just like Seldon, I would take time to meet all the stakeholders to identify their attitude towards the organisation. This move would give me an opportunity to gauge the degree of commitment within employees thus having a clear knowledge of the employees I am dealing with.

After understanding the kind of employees one is dealing with, one can formulate viable strategies to facilitate in change implementation. After talking with individual employees, Seldon learnt that all employees were devoted to organisational growth. Nevertheless, the company lacked the machinery to facilitate any substantial growth. Just like Seldon, I would involve the employees in coming up with strategies to help in organisational growth. By involving employees in managing daily operations in their departments, they develop the sense of owning the company thus stirring motivation.

Communication is of great importance in every organisation. Failure to communicate effectively may lead to some departments not attending to their responsibilities (Shockley-Zalabak 123). Besides, different departments may blame each other whenever a problem arises making it hard for leaders to hold any department accountable. Accountability in every department is crucial since it enhances performance and makes every department responsible. As Seldon worked towards nurturing accountability and improving performance standards, I would also work towards that. One of the major problems that hindered Tides growth was lack of accountability in the various components. The different departments worked independently making it hard for Tides Centre to deliver its services on time. Communication between the human resource and finance departments was poor thus affecting the service delivery processes. I would work towards enhancing communication between the different departments. Besides, I would ensure that every department appreciates the role played by other departments coupled with the fact that no department can work autonomously.

No matter how urgent Tides Centre requires change, it would be hard to implement any change based on the situation in the company. Just a few months ago, the company embarked on a downsizing process leaving scores of employees jobless. Those left in the company would not be willing to embrace changes until the leaders guarantee them of their job security. Seldon took time to talk with all employees and assure them of their job security and the benefits of changes she intended to introduce into the organisation. I would also work closely with employees to instil a sense of urgency in them. Besides, I would convince them that these changes would not lead to their sacking, but would facilitate in enhancing their operations. Communicating with employees is the ultimate way through which a leader can win their trust and draw them to his or her team.

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Prior to change implementation, it is imperative to ensure that one has all the requisite machineries and resources required during the implementation process (Bartunek et al. 182-206). Seldon ensured that she assigned different roles to experienced people. For instance, she established a Strategic Action Team and M-Team to help in identifying areas that required changes. Besides, she worked with senior managers in identifying all organisational needs that Tides Centre failed to meet. This move helped in ensuring that thorough preparations were made prior to change implementation. I would also ensure that every staff member who assumes leadership in the change implementation process is competent. This element would guarantee the smooth running of implementation process. Besides, it would guarantee that the implementation process runs in line with the identified organisational values and vision.

The senior management team ought not to be parochial in a bid to enhance collaboration in an organisation. Isolating the senior management leads to other employees not sharing their opinions on matters affecting the organisation (Begley 305-329). For the first two months in the company, Seldon did not take time to link the senior management with other management organs. The management team remained insular. Immediately after settling in the company, I would work on establishing the spirit of teamwork in the company since this aspect is one of the drawbacks that made it hard for Tides Centre to achieve its objectives. An organisation can only realise change if all the stakeholders collaborate in establishing the strategies for change implementation. Consequently, I would begin by bringing together all the stakeholders and nurturing teamwork among them. Besides, to ensure that all the stakeholders develop a sense of change, I would take time with them to identify the values and mission of Tides Centre and help them in assessing if the organisation is working towards achieving these values and mission. Letting the employees know the position of the company would make them cooperate in ensuring that Tides Centre moves towards the realisation of its goals.

Employees need motivation throughout the change implementation process. Hence, to ensure that employees in Tides Centre are ever active during the change implementation process, I would set short-term goals aimed at helping the company achieve its ultimate goals in the end. Establishing short-term goals would give the employees a taste of triumph at the earliest stages of the change implementation process, thus motivating them to pursue the changes (DiLiello 319-337). One of the goals in the organisation is to enhance employee performance and instil accountability. Therefore, I would set goals that are achievable within two months and help the employees in working towards their realisation to improve employee performance. Whenever employees pursue long-term goals, they are always sceptical of actually achieving the goals. Eventually, the employees end up relaxing along the way. Nevertheless, if long-term goals are split into numerous short-term goals, employees feel motivated since they can assess their progress. I would start with early targets, which are inexpensive, and move towards the expensive targets.

Conclusion

Seldon starts her change implementation process by working with the management team to develop the mission, vision, and values of Tides Centre. If I were in her position, I would also begin by coming up with the mission, vision, and values of the company. Organisational culture dictates what happens in an organisation (Ellemers et al. 459-478). Hence, I would make sure that daily operations in Tides Centre reflect the established organisational values, mission, and vision. I would make a follow-up to see that every element of the organisation reflects change. This move would facilitate in entrenching change in the organisational culture. I would always update the management team on the progress whenever I have an opportunity to ensure that it continues supporting the change implementation process. When recruiting new employees, I would bear in mind the intended changes to ensure that I hire people with relevant skills that would facilitate in realising the intended change.

Works Cited

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