Leadership and Change Management

Essay, 2014

9 Pages, Grade: 88%




The Relationship Between Leadership and Change Management

Problems Associated with Leading Change Management

Strategies for Mitigating Problems in Leading Change




The pace of change is much greater today than it was a century ago, and in order for organizations to be successful under these changing circumstances, the presence of strong leadership is needed (Bridges, 2009, p.102). Because change is a natural and inevitable process in organizations, as well as the way for organizational growth and success, leaders should embrace change and assist others in the process. Additionally, effective change leadership involves addressing human needs, as well as issues associated with the process. However, organizational change is underpinned by a vision and set of values, which may or may not be shared by everyone (Jackson & Burnes, 2011, p. 135). The paper concludes that effective change management is a combined effort between leaders and employees, which ensures that organizational change fits with the people in the organization and that everyone’s needs are met.

This paper will begin by discussing the relationship between leadership and change management, which will describe the distinction of transformational leadership and how it connects to change management. Next, it will discuss some of the problems associated with leading change, such as inauthentic leadership and employee resistance to change. Lastly, it will discuss three strategies for mitigating problems in leading change: 1) shifting the way people talk about change, 2) addressing the core human needs of employees, and 3) viewing change as a challenge.

The Relationship Between Leadership and Change Management

Anderson and Ackerman Anderson (2010) argue that transformation is the new change and that we need to move beyond change management toward conscious change leadership, which involves creating a shared future through a transformative approach to change (p. 2). This approach involves being more receptive to both process dynamics and human dynamics. Process dynamics refer to the content and process of change, such as unfolding actions and ideas over time toward a desired result (Anderson & Ackerman Anderson, 2010, p. 214). Being in control of the process requires an understanding of what needs to change in the organization and how the change will be designed and implemented to include considerations of human dynamics (Anderson & Ackerman Anderson, 2010, p. 24). Human dynamics include emotions, communication, mindset and relationships, as transformation requires a psychological shift in the way people relate to changes. Therefore, transformational change requires paying attention to both internal and external dynamics at the level of the individual, as well as the collective.

Change management is a form of organizational change that involves a system or plan of action for moving people from one point to another in a change process (Griffith, 2002, p. 297-98). Transformational leadership is characterized by transforming employees to make them more receptive to change (Bommer, Rich & Rubin, 2005, p. 734). It has this effect by inspiring others through a shared vision, rather than through manipulation or incentives to adhere to change (Hechanova & Cementina-Olpoc, 2012, p. 12). Vision, shared values and culture, strategy, empowerment, motivation and inspiration are all components of effective change leadership (Gill, p. 312-316). Other strategies used by transformational leaders, such as keeping people informed and allowing people to contribute to the change process in planning and implementing changes, are found to influence the success of change leadership and lead to reduced cynicism by employees toward change (Bommer, Rich & Rubin, 2005, p. 733). Everyone affected by the change should also be involved in the process, as people will be more likely to accept and adapt to the change if they have the opportunity to contribute to the process and have a vision of the wider purpose of the change (Karp & Helgo, 2008, p. 93). People will also be more favourable to changes if they believe that the changes are implemented fairly (Caldwell, Harold & Fedor, 2004, p. 869). This perception depends on the leader’s ability to supply accurate information about the change and demonstrate their commitment to the change. For example, it can be useful for managers to communicate who is making the decisions regarding changes and what their attitude is toward those who are affected by the change (Haidar, 2006, p. 13).

Problems Associated with Leading Change Management

Resistance to organizational change can arise if leaders fail to address people’s needs or if leaders demonstrate inauthenticity during the change process. A study by IBM showed that 60 percent of change efforts fail to meet their objectives (Anderson & Ackerman Anderson 2010, p. 19). The main reason that change initiatives fail is because leaders do not fully understand the complexities of change related to human nature and instinctive reactions to disruption (Karp & Helgo, 2008, p. 86). Gill (2003) argues that effective leadership for change requires an integrative approach that includes a cognitive dimension, a spiritual dimension, an emotional dimension and a behavioural dimension (p. 309-311). These dimensions are necessary in order for leaders to connect with the collective psychological impacts of transition that go along with change in organizations (Bridges, 2009, p. 7). Cognitive change involves altering the way people think about the organization by imagining a new vision, mission and values for the organization (Gill, 2003, p. 311). The spiritual dimension concerns the employee’s pursuance of meaning and purpose in their work, which requires aligning with the organization’s mission (Gill, 2003, p. 311). The emotional dimension requires that leaders have emotional intelligence and involves the use of personal power, rather than authoritative power (Gill, 2003, p. 311). Behavioural change involves a leaders’ ability to persuade others to focus on specific ideas by communicating through their physical behaviour (Rock & Schwartz, 2006, p. 16).

These behavioural changes should also be reflected in the leader’s own behaviour, as employees will not be persuaded to accept changes unless they have a role model to demonstrate the change. However, authenticity on the part of leaders is important in this demonstration. Even if leaders demonstrate the change through their actions, if it does not match what they say or vice versa, employees will not likely be convinced of the importance of the change. Thus, another problem influencing change management can come from the leaders or managers themselves. If they are not willing to change their mind sets or behaviours to model the change they are promoting for the organization, others will not be convinced to follow (Anderson & Ackerman Anderson 2010, p. 20)

Resistance to change can also occur when organizational values are not in alignment with individual’s values or if the change challenges people’s identities. The most successful organizations are those where the goals and values of the organization are shared with the leadership and the staff (Burnes & Jackson, 2011, p. 136). When these values are not in alignment during the change process, resistance will likely occur. People naturally resist certain forms of change and leadership, particularly mangerialist change initiatives (Rock & Schwartz, 2006, p. 11). This resistance occurs because change can challenge peoples’ identities. Therefore, if people see aspects of their identity in the change process, they will likely be in agreement with the change (Karp & Helgo, 2008, p. 88).

Strategies for Mitigating Problems in Leading Change

Rather than focussing on what people should do during times of change, it is more effective for leaders to focus on what people already do in organizations in terms of how people behave and communicate, as this is a reflection of organizational identity construction (Karp & Helgo, 2008, p. 95). In accordance with the constantly changing environment of organizations, the dominant organizational discourses should alter how they respond to change. A main component of leading others through change is shifting the way people talk (Karp & Helgo, 2008, p. 89). For example, rather than viewing change as an ending, which can invoke sadness and conflict, leaders can promote the language of change as a new beginning, which implies the creation of new organizational practices and identities.


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Leadership and Change Management
Conflict Specialists as Leaders
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Leadership, Change Management, Dispute Resolution, Public Administration
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Emily Lewis (Author), 2014, Leadership and Change Management, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/350859


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