Assignment 1: Research Topics
Up to this point in the course, you have learned about the change process, the role of the change leader, ethical considerations, and the challenges and issues that bring about resistance during times of change. In this module, you also revisited leadership styles and studied some of the characteristics of effective followers.
Research the concepts, theories, and models explored in this course. Use resources from professional literature in your research. Professional literature may include the Argosy University online library resources; relevant textbooks; peer-reviewed journal articles; and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, or .gov).
On the basis of research, experience, and information accumulated in this course, in a minimum of 400 words:
- Identify three possible research topics related to organizational change.
- Discuss some of the problems or opportunities that each of these three studies addresses.
Offer specific suggestions for research. Support these suggestions with rationales, research sources, and/or examples from your own experience in leading change or participation in implementing change.
- By the due date assigned, post your responses to this Discussion Area.
- Through the end of the module, comment on at least two of your classmates’ responses. You can ask technical questions or respond generally to the overall experience. Be objective, clear, and concise. Always use constructive language, even in criticism, to work toward the goal of positive progress. All
Module 6 Overview
In this module, leadership styles and characteristics of effective followers will be discussed. As a change leader, you will need to understand your team members’ skills and characteristics in order to adopt the most effective leadership style to bring about change. You will investigate the leader’s role in developing strategy and setting a direction for change. Because of the life cycle curve, the leader must be constantly aware of the organization’s position on the curve and, therefore, implement the changes necessary for the organization to survive. An organization must have an effective leader, who can respond to changes in the internal and external environment and who can develop strategies and systems to move the organization through the renewal process. There are internal and external factors that have an effect on organizational change, but the internal factors can be determined or manipulated by the leader. For organizational change to be successful and effective, the leader should understand the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organization and develop a realistic plan to implement the change. In this module, you will explore the concept of change facilitation from the change facilitator’s perspective. You will find answers to the following questions:
- What does it take to be a change facilitator?
- How important is the role of the facilitator in accomplishing change?
- What exactly does the change facilitator do and how?
- Do the facilitator’s personality and cognitive style impact performance?
- What are the prerequisite skills for a change facilitator?
comments should be posted to the appropriate topic in this Discussion Area.
Roles of Leaders and Followers
Change facilitation is important because the change process is delicate and, at worst, sometimes traumatic for an organization. On one hand, well-managed change can leave the organization stronger and more confident, with a sharper, clearer focus. On the other hand, poorly managed or unmanaged change can leave an organization weaker, less focused, and less willing to take any necessary risks to meet the challenges of the market.
To be effective in facilitating change, strong and capable leaders are needed. Effective leaders are individuals who understand their organization, including the capabilities of their teams. Leaders who have worked their way up through an organization may have a better understanding of the workforce and, thus, understand what they need during times of change. In addition, leaders who have worked their way up through the ranks will know the various team members and would be able to identify those members who could be frontline champions for the changes. Securing frontline champions can help to create support and buy-in from the field.
Since the role of the leader is so important in change process, the leadership style has a lot to do with how smoothly change is implemented and how much resistance is encountered. Therefore, the leadership style will also have an effect on how the followers will react to the behavior of the leader and how they will respond to strategic implementation. Leaders are now aware that the work environment involves integration, and this integration requires thinking about the effects of change on systems, therefore, it will take multiple styles of leadership to effectively implement change.
A change facilitator or leader must also have great energy and patience. He or she should be a good listener and engage a broad spectrum of people within the organization to work toward a common goal. This requires the ability to build effective teams of diverse people and guide them through a series of change tasks designed to create short-term wins, generate enthusiasm, and instill confidence.
A successful change facilitator is able to communicate and nurture enthusiasm and handle setbacks and difficulties with maturity. He or she is a master communicator, able to convince skeptics to come on board with sincerity and conviction, and dedicated to the success of the change venture.
Setting the Direction for Change
A change facilitator helps an organization scale heights by fulfilling its vision, meeting its potential, and competing successfully in the marketplace. Though it sounds specific, the details of implementing that role and helping the organization reach its true potential can make it a messy process.
One challenge leaders may face is the difficulty in breaking through organizational resistance and influencing stakeholders to develop a vision; plan, communicate, and implement change; and sustain the desired change. In many cases, members of an organization may want to achieve change but may shrink from the demands of the change process. If that happens, the change facilitator must influence the organization to embrace and complete the actions, however painful, to bring about beneficial change.
There can be different strategic reasons for wanting to establish change. For example:
- There may be a need to increase profit, gain more market share, enhance customer satisfaction, or implement a major change in technology to enhance organizational effectiveness. All of these factors may cause an organization to have to move in a different direction.
- There may be a requirement to change organizational structure, and in many cases, there may be a need for downsizing.
Any of these issues may instigate an organization to develop strategic plans to strategically differentiate itself and become more competitive. An evaluation of the organization and the internal and external environments will dictate what will be the most strategic direction for change.
The organization will need to establish the direction for change as per the optimum combination of factors that will place the organization in the most competitive position within the market it competes. When setting direction for change, the organization must develop strategic plans that would lead and enable the change process. Some organizations may develop outstanding strategic plans, but they are seldom implemented correctly, or in many cases, they are not implemented at all. Therefore, directions as to how the plans will be implemented must be established and the resources required for the implementation must be provided.
Once the strategic plans for organizational change have been developed for implementation, the vision and direction must be communicated to the organization. This must be communicated in a way that all members of the organization can have an opportunity to buy into the change.
Open and honest communication is essential to the success of the change process. It is also important to try and obtain employee buy-in because technology has made most markets so competitive that organizations must now function at a very high level even though they may constantly have to implement changes.
Additionally, when setting the direction for change, leaders must also consider the number of millennials (Generation Y) who are now in the workplace. This demographic does not have the same amount of commitment to staying with an organization as generations of the past. Therefore, how the change may benefit these individuals must be communicated if retention of their skills and talents is a high concern. It will be very difficult to engage them in the change process if they do not believe that the direction in which the organization is moving will assist them in their expectations of employment.
There are several leadership styles, and each style may have a different impact on the implementation of change. A leader with a transformational style may focus on organizational development, whereas a leader with a servant leadership style may have more concern for the development of the followers. Hence, transformational leadership is often thought of as one of the best styles for change, especially as it applies to developing the followers.
Leaders, however, must also be versatile and strategic. Leaders must recognize the importance of people in the organizational change process. In developing a leadership style to implement change, the behavior and attitudes of the employees must remain a major consideration or they will not follow the strategic plan.
A charismatic leadership style can be very effective during organizational change because this style has clear behavioral characteristics that can create a vision to enhance follower commitment to a common goal, which can aid in reducing resistance to change. A charismatic leader has the ability to energize members of an organization and motivate them through his or her own sense of confidence, thus enabling them to accomplish the mission.
While a charismatic leadership style can excite some members of the organization in accomplishing change, an instrumental leadership style may also be successful. An instrumental leadership style would involve managing change through structuring, controlling, and focusing on developing consistent behavior in support of the organizational change.
There are some basic leadership styles, such as the commanding style, which focuses on performance. There is the logical style, seen in individuals who attempt to cover all alternatives, and the inspirational style, which is used by those who look toward using radically new ideas.
Additionally, instead of using one of the classical leadership styles of the past, successful strategic leaders will seek information to enhance their decision-making process. These leaders accept the fact that it may take multiple styles in order to successfully implement change. In fact, flexibility in leadership comes from the leader accepting the fact that change is not a one-time occurrence but a comprehensive process that involves initiation, formulation, and implementation.
Regardless of the nature of the change task and the facilitator’s leadership style, the facilitator has to modulate the organizational provocations and disturbances that have emerged as a consequence of the change tasks. The facilitator should negotiate with parties that perceive change as a loss and try to accommodate them or perhaps even count the benefits. In the process, the change facilitator may become a barometer of change progress and the lightning rod for bringing attention to the change process. The facilitator may even embody change.
Identify the Leadership Style
Role of Leader
The role of the leader in the strategy development process is to ensure that the vision is communicated to and understood by all. The vision should be at the core of the change strategy, and it is the leader’s role to ensure that there is clarity in moving forward. In addition, the role of a leader is to focus on the critical tasks and create strategies that can be used to pursue the vision and accomplish the strategic objectives.
Inspire and Motivate
It is not necessarily the role of the leader to personally accomplish the objectives, but it is his or her role to ensure that resources are in place and that the objectives are accomplished. This is always a confusing point for some leaders and especially for most young leaders. It is not doing it yourself that is important; what is important is inspiring and motivating employees to ensure that the strategies are implemented.
Develop a Supportive Organizational Culture
The role of the leader is to develop an organizational culture where the strategies can be executed. Great strategies are wasted if they are not implemented correctly. The leader should take the time to create an organizational culture that supports change. This can be a challenge if there is a deeply engrained culture, but it should be done. Otherwise, the team members may have difficulty implementing the changes.
Manage and Direct Change
The leader has a vital and formal role in the formulation and implementation of strategy, and the leader’s role can often change very quickly, especially in high-performance organizations. The commitment of the leader is a key element in driving the organization to success. After developing the vision, goals, objectives, and strategies for change, the leader has to manage and direct the organization toward change.
Moderate Feedback and Monitor Implementation
The major role of the leader in the strategy development process is to ensure that the environment is conducive to change. Key individuals can assist with this process to ensure that the whole picture is clearly communicated. It then becomes important to create a system for evaluating each process along the way so that feedback can assist in developing any changes that might be necessary. This position of moderator and decision maker is indeed a very important role in the strategy development process. This provides the leader with the opportunity to monitor implementation and ensure that the process is conducted according to the strategic plan.
Characteristics of Effective Followers
Moral Responsibilities of Leaders
Great organizational leaders display diversity in leading individuals, teams, and the overall organization. The qualities and competencies needed by a truly great organizational leader consist of integrity, a deep understanding of the business, consistency, a willingness to admit to making a mistake, the ability to listen, and the confidence to be decisive in decision making.
Leaders have moral obligations to society, their professions, and their followers. Even in the face of uncertainty, moral leaders concentrate on doing the right thing, not on doing things right.
Respect the Use of Power
Ethical leaders develop the skill to respect the use of power in their role. Ethical leaders should accept accountability for their own faults and limitations. They should also avoid the temptation to hide behind power and status. This controlled behavior will result in a growing confidence of followers that the leaders will act responsibly and fairly.
Be Fair and Consistent
Ethical behavior in leading individuals must be constant and should not be contained in reserve for decisive incidents. Leaders’ responsibilities are rooted in integrity, and individuals respect and admire leaders who are fair and consistent. This consistency helps leaders to get individuals focused on accomplishing the organizational goals and objectives.
Focus on Strengths of Diverse Individuals
Ultimately, the overall objective of leading individuals is to get a diverse set of individuals, who have different strengths, to focus on their strengths and to organize these resources in a manner that will help accomplish the organizational goals and objectives. The effective leader recognizes these individual strengths and engages individuals to work in their respective areas so that they may reach their full potential.
Adhere to Moral Obligations
Having moral obligations to society, to a profession, and to followers, a leader frequently finds that it is not clear what is right or wrong or what one ought to do. The morality of a leader ultimately rests on established guidelines that the moral leader must adhere to in order to maintain ethical responsibility.
Establish a Practice of Reflection
Lastly, moral leaders need to establish a routine of reflection. The practice of reflection on activities during and after situations is a powerful tool to assist leaders in establishing a mature process for ethical reasoning and ethical thinking. With continued practice, ethical thinking will become more prominent and assist leaders in putting ethics into action.
A good leader of individuals must develop a purpose that is larger than the self and establish a balanced personality and skill set to effectively set that purpose into action. A leader who finds this balance will likely encounter less resistance when facilitating the change process.
Moral Responsibilities of Followers
The moral responsibilities of followers outline the role of followers in the leadership equation. Without followers, the leader’s efforts are ineffective and hopeless. Followers establish the collective acknowledgment of a leader’s abilities and enable the leader to demonstrate power and influence.
The role of the follower principally conflicts with the Machiavelli (1985) perspective that politics and ethics do not mix and that the sole objective of the leader is the acquisition of personal power. The follower defies this concept by demonstrating his or her rights and responsibilities and being recognized by the leader as a faction within the overall association.
It is the role of the moral follower to help leaders keep their decision-making processes ethically effective. When assessing a need for change, this perspective from followers is invaluable in the overall decision making and change implementation equation.
Machiavelli, N. (1985). The prince (H. C. Mansfield, Jr., Trans.). Chicago, IL:University of Chicago Press.
Leaders and Followers
The terms “leader” and “follower” imply that the behavior of either is one of freedom and independent judgment. A true leader is one who is not required to lead, and a true follower is one who is not required to follow. For both, it is a choice. If either is forced or contractually bound, the relationship is altered and will be significantly different than the ideal leader-follower relationship.
The leader-follower relationship is one that is based on influence and persuasion. These behaviors are the essence of the leader-follower relationship, and any other compelling behavior is the result of tyranny and constraint.
True leaders are those who behave in ethical, open, and honest ways. They are those who exemplify a sense of community and enable the emergence of shared values and beliefs. While the tendency of the true leader is inherently good, it is important to remember that induced behavior can also be destructive and evil.
The leader-follower relationship is, thereby, one that is determined through the interaction of individuals with different degrees of motivation, power, and skills in the pursuit of a common purpose. This interaction can ultimately take on two fundamental forms:
- The first is a transactional relationship, which occurs when one person takes the initiative in making contact with others for the purpose of an exchange. There is no enduring relationship that is sought, and once the exchange has taken place, they go their separate ways.
- The other form of a leader-follower relationship is transformational. This leader-follower relation occurs when one or more persons engage with others in a way that raises all involved in the engagement to higher levels of motivation and morality. Conceptually, the most modern examples are Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both had effectively elevated the hopes of millions, whose lives were enhanced in the process.
During the change facilitation process, a healthy and well-balanced leader-follower relationship is essential in enhancing the support needed to effect the desired goals and elevate organizational performance.
Through this module’s online lectures and assigned readings, you learned about leadership styles and characteristics of effective leaders and followers. You also explored the concept of change facilitation from the change facilitator’s perspective. Additionally, you reviewed the moral and ethical responsibilities of change leadership and facilitation and the relationship between leaders and followers during the change implementation process.
Here are the key points you covered in this module:
- Effective leaders are those who have learned to be effective followers because it is important to understand what it is like to be a follower.
- Effective followers display certain characteristics that lead to their success and aid in organizational success. These are loyalty, candor, the ability to see obstacles and adversity as opportunities, and persistence.
- Flexibility in leadership comes from the leader accepting the fact that change is not a one-time occurrence but a comprehensive process that involves initiation, formulation, and implementation.
- The leader-follower relationship is determined by the interaction of individuals with different degrees of motivation, power, and skills in the pursuit of a common purpose.
- Great leaders effectively and efficiently guide, mentor, and inspire their followers. They face numerous ethical dilemmas, and the decisions they make in these situations demonstrates their moral responsibilities and adherence to ethical standards.
- Followers establish the collective acknowledgment of a leader’s abilities and enable the leader to demonstrate power and influence.
- The role of the moral follower is to help leaders keep their decision-making processes ethically effective.
- The overall objective of leading individuals is to get a diverse set of individuals to focus on their strengths and to organize these resources in a manner that will help accomplish the organizational goals and objectives.