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Leadership and Change Management (Research Paper Sample)


The report will require you to investigate a situation of organizational change, analyzing the multiple causes, organizational and social consequences, using academic and professional literature to support your findings. Your report will also include recommendations to lead and manage organisational change, reflecting on appropriate leadership styles, employees’ engagement and organisational development.
max. 3,500 words


Leading Change in Organisations
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Leading Change in Organisations
In the past decade the business world has changed to become more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). As such, volatile, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are the biggest challenges facing leaders (Sinha & Sinha, 2020). Leaders are forced to challenge their ways of doing things. For example, traditionally organizations were structured such that they had well-defined business functions and reporting structures. When restructuring these businesses want to divide functions into blocks to resolve problems that arise. However, the market works differently in that functions and problems overlap. As such change has to be systemic and holistic. To navigate these changes good leadership is essential. Leaders must navigate the organization successfully and safely through this VUCA world. Also, in a VUCA world, information is unreliable, priorities change, and it is difficult to predict results (Minciu et al., 2019). Managing change in a VUCA environment thus becomes one of the most important abilities of a leader (Bennett & Lemoine, 2014). The uncertain nature of a VUCA environment calls for reactive rather than proactive change (Rimita et al., 2020). The paper discusses how different leadership styles address change and resistance to change.
Selected Topics
Change and its Importance
Change is a constant that entails altering or modifying something. In an organization, change can be caused by internal or external factors. The external factors that can cause a change in an organization include economy, culture, politics, technology, and societal changes (Teece, 2018). In most cases, organizations do not influence external factors hence the recommended action is to accept the change and align internal processes accordingly. Internal factors that cause a change in an organization include the organization's structure, policies, management, and financial situation (Teece, 2018). Organizations can prepare and control the outcome of internal influences.
Change is inevitable hence organizations need to adapt and accept change as part of the organization. Change is important since it helps organizations to grow, expand their capabilities, and adapt to external events (Carayannis et al, 2015). Further, the change allows organizations to explore new opportunities. Employees also learn new skills and exercise their creativity in many ways. Change allows companies to address gaps in performance, it helps them to adapt to the crisis, address changes that may arise, and leverage opportunities (Teece, 2018).
Reaction to Change
The common reaction to change includes denial in that some people feel a change is not necessary and hence are reluctant to consider and support it; anger arises from the norm being uprooted prompting some people to be uncooperative; resistance stems from the fear of the unknown; acceptance happens when people perceive the positive influence of changes involved; indifference happens when people do not care about the changes proposed more so if the change does not impact their routine (Mangundjaya et al., 2015).
To facilitate the change process organizations should incorporate open communication, education, training, and flexibility, and involve all affected parties (Carayannis et al, 2015). Organizations should have open communication before, during, and after the change. Also, all parties should be educated on the reason for the change, the expected outcomes, and the importance of the change. All parties should also be trained and equipped with the skills and material required for change. At the same time, the organization should be flexible to address unforeseen events that may arise during the change. Additionally, the parties that are affected by the change should be involved in the change process (Carayannis et al, 2015). Undertaking these activities will reduce resistance to change and increase acceptance.
Leadership Theories and their Application
Trait Theory of Leadership
The trait theory argues that the underlying leadership capabilities are rooted in the traits possessed by individuals (Chao & Chang, 2013). The theory states that there is a common pattern of personal traits among effective leaders that contribute to their ability to mobilize followers towards a common vision (Shafique & Beh, 2017). These traits include sets of capabilities and skills, personalities and motives, and behaviours. Under personality, research has shown that comfort with ambiguity, adaptability, and disposition tendencies that include values and motives are correlated with effective leadership. Under task competence traits such as conscientiousness, intelligence, emotional stability, and openness to experience are associated with effective leadership. Additionally, interpersonal attributes such as agreeableness and extroversion are also highly correlated with effective leadership expected (Nawaz & Khan, 2016).
Essentially, the traits theory argues that certain leaders' traits are essential to an organization's success. Traits theory is based on an assumption that finding the right traits increases organizational performance (Chao & Chang, 2013). Traits theory is applied in tests designed by human resources to assess and benchmark the leadership skills of candidates. Further, some organizations use tools such as the leadership trait questionnaire (LTQ) and Myers-Briggs to find people with the right traits (Chao & Chang, 2013). However, traits theory is limited by the fact that it has too many leadership measures with low reliability. It is difficult to separate the different traits that make leaders effective in different situations. Also, the rationale behind the selection of the specific variables is not known expected (Nawaz & Khan, 2016).
Arguably Steve Jobs possessed leadership traits that made him successful as a leader. Steve Jobs was an independent thinker who acted on his values, ideas, and rules. He was visionary and acted on his ideas thus transforming the personal computing, phones, animated movies, music, digital publishing, and retail stores industries (Isaacson, 2012). Secondly, Steve Jobs was courageous, comfortable with ambiguity, and highly adaptable. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple Inc. in 1997, he was courageous he was going to help the company recover even amid a potential bankruptcy. In just one year Steve Jobs helped Apple Inc. record a profit of $309 million from a loss of $1.04 billion (Toma & Marinescu, 2013). Steve ignored the negativity and restructured the company to greater heights. Thirdly, Steve Jobs knew how to keep the employees motivated through intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Employees were motivated to work at Apple Inc. since they received greater satisfaction from creating great products. Also, Apple Inc. rewarded employees with extrinsic rewards such as pay rises and proportions. Steve Jobs naturally possessed the traits of a leader that made him successful. Steve Jobs was emotionally stable amid failure, intelligent, open to new experiences, and embraced adaptability (Isaacson, 2012). These traits came in handy in managing change. For instance, after returning to Apple Inc., Steve streamlined the saturated product line by cancelling 70% of the redundant products (Toma & Marinescu, 2013). Jobs later revealed the first Apple iPhone which took the company to greater heights.
Contemporary Leadership Theories
Contemporary leadership theories reframed leadership as a reciprocal and dynamic process between people pursuing a shared goal (Nawaz & Khan, 2016). They include transformational theory, servant theory, authentic theory, and relational theory.
Transformational leadership
Transformational leadership focuses on achieving practical organizational objectives whereas transforming leadership is more focused on social reform by elevating the values and needs of followers. Shafique & Beh (2017) argued that transformational leaders comprise of these behaviours: idealized influence; inspirational motivation; individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation. It comprises intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration that nurture creativity. Transformational leaders make followers aware of the task's importance, they induce followers to transcend personal interests for the organization or team's sake, and they move followers towards higher needs (Abu-Rumman, 2021). As a result, followers of transformational leaders make followers feel great trust and have confidence, loyalty, admiration, respect, and trust in their leader. Followers of transformational leaders also achieve more than expected (Nawaz & Khan, 2016). The shortcoming of transformational leadership is that there is a risk of the leader's influence getting lost if the followers disagree with the vision. Also, transformational leaders overlook details as they focus on the big picture. Additionally, continued communication is needed for transformational leadership to be effective.
An example of a transformational leader is Richard Branson. His company, Virgin Group owns more than 400 companies (Bradley, 2020). Branson started with a youth-culture magazine for students which opened an opportunity for Branson to venture into a mail-order record company by the name Virgin. After 10 years of successfully running Virgin, Branson started a record company by the name Virgin Music (Bradley, 2020). While at it, Branson saw an opportunity in airlines from his frustrations with terrible quality airlines hence he launched Virgin Atlantic. Richard Branson is focused on bringing socia...

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