Question: It is said “real lasting change can only be affected by the leader”. Discuss your views on managing change and the leader’s role in being a catalyst for change.
1. Introduction: The past three decades has seen an upsurge in the correlation that “true leaders” have a positive impact on a given situation, organization or country. The world today is uncertain, and faces many challenges from the environment, conflict and the economic woes that have affected all nations; organizations need level five leaders. Although as Jim Collins clearly annotates the characteristics and skills of a level five leader are rare (Collins 2001).
Stephen Robbins and Timothy Judge (2009) state “that transformational leaders inspire followers to transcend their own self interests for the good of the organization and are capable of having a profound and extraordinary effect on their followers.” Appendix one clearly annotates the difference between transformational and transactional leadership characteristics.
Change is the only constant in today’s world and if an organization fails to change to meet the needs of the market and its clients it will become extinct. Isaac Asimoc (2004) clearly states “The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be”.
2. Change: So what is change? There are a number of definitions for change but, to alter; to make different; to cause to pass from one state to another; as, to change the position, character, or appearance of a thing; to change the countenance is the definition that I feel encapsulates change (Brainy Quote). Change and moving into the unknown can be a stressful time for people. Robbins & Judge state evidence indicates that uncertainty is the biggest stress factor people have with organizational change (Robbins & Judge, 2009:672).
Organizational change will predominately lead to downsizing. Organizations change to become more effective and efficient; automation, outsourcing and benchmarking lead to change. Kets de Vries & Blazas (1997) suggest that a major contributing factor is the increasing popularity of global benchmarking where businesses are increasingly comparing their overhead and cost structures not only with domestic competitors, but also with international competitors.
Therefore change is not just about the physical but the psychological effects that it can have on us. We all like to be in control of our lives but during change this control can seem to be removed.
A number of psychologists have made significant impacts on our understanding and how humans perceive the world. Abraham Maslow was one of these psychologists that has left a legacy on the study of human behavior. Maslow created a unique concept of Humanistic Psychology (Robbins & Judge, 2009:210). Maslow clearly identifies a hierarchy of needs physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self actualization; during change all of these needs can be negatively impacted upon.
A number of modern day versions of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have been published from Stephen R Coveys 8th Habit (2006) to Anthony Robbins seven master steps to creating lasting change and unleash the power within. Although their approach is different there are fundamental synergies with Maslow’s theories.
Change invokes a number of human reactions Cooper 2007 explains that there are seven key events on the announcement of change; numbness, denial, depression, acceptance, testing, rationalization and internalization. We must remember that people are different and therefore there is no laid down time scale for these emotions or reactions. People may revert to earlier stages; this is not a systematic or linear process.
3. Leadership: It is therefore paramount that before a leader embarks on change he or she must have an...
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