Nikole Pagan PA 720, Managing Organizational Behavior Spring 2008 Dr. Carol Edlund
Review of “The Leadership Challenge – A Call for the Transformational Leader” By Noel M. Tichy and David O. Ulrich. In their article The Leadership Challenge – A Call for the Transformational Leader,” Noel M. Tichy and David O. Ulrich seek to define a new brand of leadership consistent with the changing nature of the US Economy and world market. They seek to define the qualities of a transformational leader and delineate the organizational dynamics of change a leader must manage, in terms of structure, culture and the individuals that make up an organization. The following discussion provides an over-view of Tichy and Ulrich’s main points, questions the outcomes of transformational leadership, and compares and contrasts a transformational leader with the concept of level 5 leadership. Tichy and Ulrich argue that the changing nature of the US economy in the early 1980s was driving the need to revise organizational culture to ensure that US companies remained competitive in the world market. To navigate this cultural shift, Tichy and Ulrich call for a new breed of leaders who can help an organization develop a new vision, gather support and buy-in from stakeholders, guide the organization through a transformative phase and possess the capacity to institutionalize changes over time. (1984) These leaders are called transformational leaders because they create something new from something old. Whereas a transactional manager might make adjustments to the organizational tri-pod of mission, structure and human resources, a transformational leader goes beyond, bringing about fundamental changes in the organization’s basic political and cultural systems. It is the latter that sets transformational leaders apart from transactional managers. Tichy and Ulrich begin to develop their argument by presenting Lee Iacocca, former CEO of the Chrysler Corporation as a case study in transformational leadership. Starting in the late 1970s, Iacocca
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“provided the leadership to transform a company from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability” (Tichy * Ulrich, p. 65). He revamped internal politics and systems, changed management structure, trimmed tens of thousands of employees, won concessions from the UAW, and translated the “loser” stigma of a government bail-out into a positive cultural shift. Beyond the description of a transformational leader, Tichy and Ulrich delineate the organizational dynamics of change, based on a number of assumptions. The first assumption is that a trigger event indicates that change is needed, for Chrysler, the trigger was impending bankruptcy. The second assumption is that change unleashes mixed feelings – a positive impetus for change as well as strong, negative resistance from individuals and the organization. Resistance can come from 3 areas: Technical systems, Political Systems and Cultural Systems. Technical systems resistance includes task-based habit and inertia, fear of change, loss of sunk costs. Political systems resistance can come from internal coalitions against change, limitations on resource availability, and the idea that admitting that change is necessary is an indictment on past leadership. Cultural systems resistance includes the perception that an organization is one thing, and cannot be another, that the past holds security, and that current organizational culture makes change difficult. The third and fourth assumptions of organizational change are closely tied together. The third assumption is that a quick-fix cannot work, and a transformational leader is needed. The fourth assumption takes the third to a deeper level, suggesting transformational Leadership is the key to revitalization. In order to revitalize an organization, a transformational leader must create a new vision, mobilize commitment to that vision, and institutionalize these changes in...
Cited: Collins, Jim. Good to Great. Harper, Collins, New York, NY. 2001. Tichy, N.M., & Ulrich, D.O “The Leadership Challenge – A Call for the Transformational Leader” (1984) in Classical Readings of Organizational Behavior, edited by Ott, Parkes, & Simpson. Thomson-Wadsworth, Belmont, CA, 2008.
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