Importance of Leadership in Managing Change

Topics: Leadership, Management, Change management Pages: 9 (2912 words) Published: November 1, 2014
This assignment will analytically assess the statement “Leadership is the most important factor in Managing Change”. Firstly it will look at defining leadership, and will make a comparison of leadership versus management. It will discuss the importance of leadership and its role in managing change. The essay will consider the strength and weaknesses of the current theories and models exploring the leadership impact on change within organisations. The essay will also consider the key principles to change management as well as the reason why we experience resistance to change within organisations. It will outline key theory in relation to both successful and non-successful change management implementation and will also consider some process and solution to overcoming the common error in change management.

Armstrong (2011) defines leadership as “…the process of setting direction and ensuring that the members of the leader’s organization or team give of their best to achieve the desired result. It is about getting people to go where you want them to go, gaining their commitment, and motivating them to achieve their goals. Armstrong believes that leadership has three essential roles, which focus on defining the task, achieving the task and maintaining effective relationship. (p.117)

Leadership is the act of guiding, directing and mentoring a group or another individual to achieve a shared goal.
When looking at leadership versus management Grint notes that management is traditionally about ‘executing routines and maintaining organizational stability’ where as ‘leadership is concerned with direction setting, with novelty and is essentially linked to change, movement and persuasion’ (Grint 2005 P15). In smaller organisations, especially third sector organisations the delineation of roles may not be as distinct as this suggests; they may be more blurred and interchangeable. Adair suggests that ‘leadership and management are different concepts but they overlap very considerably’ and that the overlap is increasing (Adair 2009 P50-51). Change however, remains crucial and linked to survival for any business. Adair also says that leadership and change are linked and he goes on to say that ‘change throws up the need for leaders, and leaders tend to create change’ (Adair 2009 P53). He goes as far as to say that ‘leaders like change’ (Adair 2009 P53). This can be linked with Kotter (1990) who sites that leadership is establishing direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring, and producing change (p.6).

There have been many definitions of leadership. Yukl (2002:4-5) argues that the definition of leadership is “arbitrary and very subjective”. According to Grint (2010) leadership “means different things to different people” (2010:4). Grint says that we might simply be able to define leadership as “Having followers”. He doesn’t believe that we need to agree on one simple definition of leadership, but that the consensus of definitions seem to hang around four areas of dispute; leadership defines as position or person or result or process. The organizational culture literature reminds us that a wide range of factors affect organizational change as produced during a merger, and that those leaders hoping to initiate organizational change and generate follower acceptance face a daunting task (Michaela and Burke, 2000). The challenge is to select a set of actions that are achievable within the capacity of the organization to absorb change and resource constraints. Early research building upon the ‘great man’ theory of leadership (Judge et al., 2002) found that the situation also plays a vital role in determining leader effectiveness and that, to be effective, leaders must behave differently in different situations (Stogdill, 1974; Yukl, 2002). Much has been written about leadership qualities and types of leadership (e.g. Bass and Avolio, 1994; House, 1996; Conger and Kanungo, 1998). Bass (1985) suggests that leaders must promote...
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