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Leadership Resource Group

Leadership and Managing Change
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Introduction

 

Leadership has a large impact on the success of forming and implementing new strategies in an organisation. Change management is becoming an ever increasing area for concern as organisations attempt to change and adapt to their environment. Leaders play a large role to implement and facilitate the change process to ensure all employees are happy and understand the new direction of the organisation. This report discusses the importance of leadership in change management and the different styles the leader may adopt during this process.

 

Change Management

 

Strategic management requires constant adaptation to the external environment which gives rise to the idea of change management (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). It is extremely important for an organistation to be aware of the importance of change management. Change management is concerned with the relationship between the organisation and its environment and can encompass changes to processes, structure, skills, resources and culture (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). The challenge of successful change management is to deal with all of these aspects at the same time and this requires the understanding of the whole organisation and good leadership.

 

Change and Leadership

 

Leadership is important in implementing and promoting effective organisational change (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). Employees of a particular organisation generally don’t have high levels of acceptance for organisational change and it is the job or role of the leader to facilitate the change and motivate and reassure the employees to make the change run as smoothly as possible. Understanding the dynamics of organisational change, including level of acceptance, is a key feature between successful and unsuccessful leadership (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). McKinseys Seven-S model demonstrates that managers should deal not only with the systems, structures and employee’s training and skills, but also with the culture, motivation, values and affiliation (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). These aspects are all linked together and should be showed the same amount of care and attention. McKinseys Seven-S dimensions can be separated into hard and soft S’s. Hard S’s relate to the organisation and the soft S’s relate to the human resources. Figure 1 in 'illustrated models' below shows the McKinsey Seven-S model.

 

            The Hard S’s

         Strategy – strategies an organisation plans to change with its external environment.

         Structure – the overall structure of the organisation.

         Systems – procedures that support the strategy and structure.

The Soft S’s

         Style – management’s behavior shows what they consider as important.

         Staff – human resources.

         Shared Values – guiding concepts and fundamental ideas.

         Skill – of the organisation as a whole.

 

It is important for management not to be sucked into focusing more on the tangible and measurable aspects of this model (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). Top management needs to consider each point with the same importance and care. How the leadership group manages this change and the Seven-S’s will result in how their organisational culture is created. If they facilitate change well and get all employees to adapt with the changes then they will find that they have created a strong organisational culture. If they have not done well to facilitate change then employees may be somewhat lost for direction with the organisations culture.

 

Strategic Leadership Style

 

The way strategic management is practiced in organisations is strongly influenced by the collective and collaborative beliefs of senior leadership groups about issues including authority, participation in decision making, team work and hierarchal relationships (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). These beliefs have a large influence to how leaders will behave when an organisation is in the process of change. There are 4 ways in which a leader can behave when strategic change is upon them.

 

            Autocratic Leadership

           

This leadership style is based on the belief that top management contains all the thinkers of the organisation and that all other employees are the doers (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). This method of thinking implies that top management think of the strategies while it is the job of the employees to implement them. This method of leadership style can create separation between employees and management. This causes employees to be come less innovative and more demotivated. For example, in the case of One.Tel, Jodee Rich, the CEO, often humiliated people that brought problems to his attention therefore causing the structural design to be an autocracy. Managers then tended to what was told of him and few told him the truth about the company’s concern because when they did he commented on their incompetence (Robbins, S. and Barnwell, N., 2006). This also gives rise to bossiness rather than leadership as Rich had lost the faith and trust of his employees (Moss Kanter, 2005).

 

Collaborative Strategic Leadership

 

This style is based on the principle that the quality of strategic decisions can be improved if the organisation was to include middle and lower management in the decision-making and strategic implementation process (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). This style is probably the most common and effective form of leadership in change management. Its effectiveness is increased by the views of middle and lower level managers, most of who will be heavily involved in the implementation process and receiving their feedback about how the change is progressing. They are also involved in leading their subordinates through the change process.

 

Participative Strategic Leadership

           

This style believes that the best strategies should be developed from not only the top down, but also the bottom up (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). This means that all the employees of the organisation are encouraged to become involved in the decision making process. This type of leadership can only be used in a workplace that has high levels of trust as sometimes this style can be seen as a gimmick and employees will not trust senior management.

 

Cultural Strategic Leadership

 

This style is based on the view that the culture of an organisation exerts a strong influence on the way strategic leadership is practiced (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). It is an attempt by management to instill in all employees the core beliefs and values of the organisation and then allowing employees to manage themselves using these beliefs and values as a guide (Viljoen, J, Dann, S, 2003). It is often hard to facilitate change in this environment for leaders. Some employees may struggle to understand the organisations beliefs and values and struggle to keep up with or understand the decisions made. This also makes the leaders life difficult as he can’t get everyone on the same ‘wave length’ to ensure efficiency and a smooth change process.

 

Conclusion

 

Strategic leadership is important for managers to consider when implementing change. There are many aspects of the organisation that need the same care and attention when moving the organisation and its employees through change. If leaders have not done well to facilitate change then employees may be somewhat lost for direction with the organisations culture. It is therefore important to choose your approach to change management carefully as the right leadership strategy can provide great results whereas the wrong one can spell disaster.

Illustrated Model

Figure 1: McKinseys Seven-S Model
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