Organizational Change and Development: Effective Leadership Matter

Dr. Said Malki
School of Business Administration
Al Akhawayn University
Ifrane, Morocco
Phone: 1 (646)-641-6555
Email: [email protected]
This paper will focus on the characteristics and roles of effective leadership.
This latter should not be confused with management roles and tasks. A special attention
will be given to the roles of leaders with respect to organizational change and
Leadership is an influence process involving two or more people. The person
who is the target of the influence effort must attribute that effort to a specific person and
consider it acceptable. Leaders and managers play different roles in organizations.
Leaders seek to change organizations, while managers sustain and control them.
Organizations also have diverse needs for those roles at different levels and at different
times in their history. An effective leader has the following skills: (i) listen more than
talk, (ii) cooperate more than compete; (iii) value talent more than title; (iv) value
teamwork more than individual glory; (v) pursue purpose beyond profit; (vi) fix things
than are not broken; (vii) take appropriate risks; generate new ideas; (vii) embrace
change. Moreover, effective leadership requires a focus on VABEs (values, assumptions,
believes, and expectations) at the organizational level.
Challenges and issues related to organizational change translate the importance of
the leadership point of view: (1) seeing what needs to be done; (2) understanding the
underlying forces at play in a situation; and (3) initiating action to make things better.
Effective leaders aim organizational change because the success--even the mere survivalof organizations depends on their ability to adapt to change. There are many trait theories
that describe traits consistently associated with leadership, such as intelligence,
dominance, self-confidence, energy, the desire to lead, honesty, and task-relevant
knowledge. In addition, behavioral theories of leadership describe task- and peopleoriented behavior as stable dimensions of leader behavior. Two contingency theories give
different views of how situations affect leader behavior. Concerning Fiedler’s
contingency theory of leadership, it says that leaders have a predisposition to focus on
people or a task. With respect to House’s path-goal theory of leadership, it states that
leaders can choose from four behaviors and combine them according to the needs of the
situation. Those behaviors are directive, supportive, participative, and achievementoriented. The alternative leadership theories are the leadership mystique, transformational
leadership, and charismatic leadership. Each theory emphasizes the role of charisma and
vision in effective leadership.
It is vital to mention though that the growing use of self-managing work teams
particularly in American and Canadian organizations is changing the role of leaders
inside and outside the teams. Many observations apply to such teams and can guide team
leaders and those who coordinate activities of several teams. This said and done, it is vital
to note that situations surrounding leaders have many factors that substitute for leader
behavior, neutralize the behavior, or enhance the behavior. Understanding a situation’s
characteristics is an essential step in being an effective leader in an organization.
Furthermore, the core values that define the relationships between leaders and followers
or managers and subordinates vary across cultures. People in nations with values that
specify hierarchical relationships in organizations react more positively to directive
approaches than to participative approaches. Besides this cultural dimension, the ethical
leader should consider moral dilemmas, reward ethical behavior, and build an ethical
organizational culture. Such qualities are especially significant to consider for leaders
who have strong effects on their followers.
In general, the role of a leader is different than a manager. Indeed a manager
needs to know what objectives must be achieved within a specific timeframe and be able
to communicate them effectively to other people. He/she should be capable of building a
plan in order to meet objectives. Other management characteristics are: (i) Actionoriented; (ii) Able to deal with ambiguity; (iii) Approachable; (iv) empower others; (v)
intelligent; (vi) organizational ability; (vii) educated; (viii) organizational power and
influence. A good manager reinforces organizational ethics by being a good example for
employees and also considers interests of different stakeholders (customers, distributors,
suppliers, regulators, etc). While managers think incrementally (case by case), leaders
usually think radically considering the whole picture and the overall organizational vision
and purpose.
Regarding the organizational change, it includes both unplanned and planned
change. Unplanned change occurs when forces for change overwhelm the organization.
Planned organizational change is deliberate and clarifies series of phases that are not
always different from each other. Planned change efforts can have different aims,
including the organization’s culture, decision processes, task design, and organizational
design. It can proceed in incremental steps (evolutionary change) or at a fast pace
(revolutionary change). People resist change for many reasons. Some people may see the
change as causing them to lose something valued. Additionally, misunderstandings about
the intended change goal can lead to resistance reactions. Other reasons for resistance
change are lack of trust, lack of a common perception about the value of the change, low
tolerance for change and the uncertainty associated with it. Managers and leaders should
view resistance to change as a problem to overcome or as a new source of information
about the organization.
There are ways to manage the change process and to reduce resistance. Using
dramatic ceremonies and symbols to signal disengagement from the past can move a
system forward with little resistance. The ceremony may consist of recognition of job
well done on some finished programs. Ceremoniously burying the old program and
launching the new one can go together with reducing resistance to change. In addition, it
is useful to communicate information about the change in order to reduce resistance to
change. Leadership and management should be ready to answer the question: What it is
for me? Why the change happens? How it will happen? What are the effects of the
change on various groups of the organization? Involving the key people who will be
affected with the suggested change also helps decrease resistance. Moreover, managers
can support an important change by committing sufficient resources to make the change
easier on those affected. Furthermore, an indirect and politically based approach involves
different forms of manipulation of those who are the target of change (e.g. Co-optation).
It goes without saying that managers and change agents sometimes have no choice than
to force coercively change onto the target system especially when change must come
quickly. One should keep in mind though that pressing or forcing a system to change can
increase resistance to change.
Another important aspect of the organizational setting is organizational
development. It is a systematic approach to planned change using social and behavioral
science theories and concepts. It occurs in a series of stages and often uses data to assess
the current state of the organization and to diagnose the organization to identify needed
changes. Managers and consultants can choose from four classes of organizational
development interventions: (1) human process interventions, (2) structural and
technological interventions, (3) human resource management interventions, and (4)
strategy interventions. Organizational development has its intellectual roots mainly in the
United States with some branches in England, Northern Europe, and Scandinavia. The
assumptions and values of consultants, and the nature of many interventions, reflect the
values of those cultures. Those assumptions and values are different from the
assumptions and values found in many other nations. The ethics issues in organizational
change and development center on misrepresentation by a client or consultant, data
confidentiality, and full awareness and consent to behavioral changes by people who will
experience the changes.
The concept of leadership is not static since it is constantly influenced both by
internal dynamics of organizations and the external environment. While power-with,
effective communication, and coordination are vital elements, it is important to develop
awareness for cultural diversity and ethics especially in international settings. Other
aspects of leadership are connected to socialization, organizational culture, motivation,
and conflicts management.
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