Leadership and Change Management

26th April 2021

Change is Inevitable

Change is always happening in our lives. In Singapore, “Policemen used to wear shorts” a common phrase used locally to candidly describe the changing times. The way millennials prefer to text over phones calls are also evident of the way we communicate today (Howe 2016).

Companies that do not embrace the changes in society  has experience their downfalls as we have seen with Kodak, Nokia, Yahoo, Hitachi, Motorola, Borders, Atari, Nortel, Enron, HMV, Tower Records and Toys-R-Us (Aaslaid 2019).

Figure 1 reflects the drivers that generates these transformations. Changes that impacts businesses can be planned or emergent. Therefore, change is inevitable, and resistance is futile (Mullins 2010). Grab adapted their ride-hailing business and added food delivery to their repertoire with the changes in personal habits and increase in home-food delivery in 2018. However, exhorted by the global lockdowns in 2020, it helped sustained their business as their ride-hailing demand was impacted but their food delivery services were boosted (Kwang 2018).

Grab adapted their ride-hailing business and added food delivery to their repertoire with the changes in personal habits and increase in home-food delivery in 2018. However, exhorted by the global lockdowns in 2020, it helped sustained their business as their ride-hailing demand was impacted but their food delivery services were boosted (Kwang 2018).

Resistance is Futile

Oppositions to change, could lead to disapprovals and conflicts. Thus, leaders apply their transformational or transitional leadership style (TTLS) to mitigate. Figure 2 illustrates the reasons for resistance which leaders need to identify before jumping into implementing the changes (Chrissy 2020).

Change

Organisations identify change agents to implement planned change or align the organisation to emergent changes. Several change management models can be adopted but analysing all will reveal a common element which is the capabilities and effectiveness of the change agent and communications which will determine the outcome (Lunenberg 2010). 

Conflict

Conflicts will arise and this will test the leader’s capabilities. Collaboration is a win-win resolution where it combines assertiveness and cooperation as seen in figure 3. The solutions will satisfy everyone and minimize discords. Usually, all parties will contribute to a solution thus leading to long-term resolution (Corvette 2013).

Transactional Leadership (TNL) and Transformational Leadership (TFL)

Leaders provide direction, plans, and applied different leadership styles to influence and compel their teams. Table 1 illustrates 8 contemporary leadership styles that are inherent in TNL and TFL styles (Brian 2014).

At Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings described as a transformational leader is committed to performers and empowering them with transparency and autonomy. The organisational culture advocates constructive criticism and positive feedbacks, with alternative solution to be given anytime and anywhere. Building on feeling of ownership and responsibility, employees have access to critical and financial information usually reserved for senior executives. Failures are accepted and shared their assessment of what went wrong and the learning lessons (Hal 2020). Figure 4 illustrates the traits of the TTLS.

Elon Musk has displayed TFL traits and motivated his followers to be creative and innovative to adapt to the changing environmental needs when he took over the leadership at Tesla in 2004 (Wingard 2019).
TNL focuses on the exchanges between leaders and followers. For instance, managers promote employees who exceed their goals. When Steve Jobs took over at Pixar Studios, he displayed his TNL to motivate his team to achieve his visionary goals, His chain of command was clear and explicit. Incentives and penalties were instilled, whilst processes were judiciously monitored in every element of the change management (Wall Street Journal 2012). Other leaders who have portrayed TNL in their change management such as task-oriented, incentivising, and reprimanding failures are Donald Trump (Trump 2020) and Jeff Bezos (Frontline PBS 2020). Figure 4 illustrates the different traits of TFL and TNL (Northouse 2013).

At Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings described as a transformational leader is committed to performers and empowering them with transparency and autonomy. The organisational culture advocates constructive criticism and positive feedbacks, with alternative solution to be given anytime and anywhere. Building on feeling of ownership and responsibility, employees have access to critical and financial information usually reserved for senior executives. Failures are accepted and shared their assessment of what went wrong and the learning lessons (Hal 2020).
Applying Lewin’s 3-step change model as adapted, analysed, and illustrated in figure 5 (Cummings et al. 2016), Hasting’s TFL traits such as communicating his vision and inspiring his team to ‘unfreeze’ the current situation. He broke conventional work norms and compelled the team to accept the changes through his open communications and minimized the resistance (McCord 2014).

Reflections

There is no perfect team but a perfect synergy. Experienced managers recognize there is no one best way to lead thus adapt their style to encounter the requirements. Putting it all together change will happen, and the resistance will come from people showing signs from factors in figure 2. Whilst utilising a change management model, a leader communicates to his team of the changes coming and during the course itself. Leadership styles mitigate the resistance and successfully achieve the goals, but both have their distinct benefits and pitfalls. In transformational leadership, when there is a conflict, a win-win solution is pursued. Oppositely a transactional leader may solve the conflicts – ‘my-way’ or as Donald Trump’s reality TV show would say: ‘You’re Fired’ (Trump 2020).

References

Aaslaid, K. (2019) 50 Examples of Corporations that failed to innovate. [Online]
Available at: < https://www.valuer.ai/blog/50-examples-of-corporations-that-failed-to-innovate-and-missed-their-chance > [Accessed 25 April 2021].

Brian, T. (2014) Leadership. NY: Amacom.

Cumming, S., Bridgman, T., Brown, K. ((2016) Unfreezing change as three

steps: Rethinking Kurt Lewin’s legacy for change management. [Online] Available at: < https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0018726715577707 > [Accessed on 30 April 2021]

Chrissy, C.(2020) Managing Stakeholder Resistance to Change. [Online]
Available at: < https://www.batonglobal.com/post/managing-stakeholder-resistance-to-change&gt; [Accessed 22 April 2021].

Corvette, B. (2013) Conflict Management. Harlow: Pearson.

Frontine PBS (2020)  Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos. [Online]
Available at: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVVfJVj5z8s&gt;
[Accessed 26 April 2021].

Hal , K. (2020) 7 Leadership Lessons from Netflix CEO Reed Hasting’s New Book. [Online]
Available at: < https://builtin.com/company-culture/netflix-book&gt; [Accessed 7 April 2021].

Howe, N.(2016) Why Millennials Are Texting More And Talking Less. [Online]
Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2015/07/15/why-millennials-are-texting-more-and-talking-less/?sh=3f291b9c5975&gt; [Accessed 25 April 2021].

Jobs, S. (2011) Steve Jobs passion in work. [Online]
Available at: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PznJqxon4zE&gt; [Accessed 26 April 2021].

Kwang, K. (2018) Grab launches GrabFood in Singapore; to offer service soon in Southeast Asia. [Online] Available at: < https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/grabfood-ubereats-launch-ubereats-singapore-no-minimum-order-10283298 > [Accessed 25 April 2021].

Lunenberg, F. (2010) Managing Change: The Role of the Change Agent. International Journal of Management, Business, and administration, 13(1).

McCord, P (2014) How Netflix Reinvented HR [Online] Available at: < https://hbr.org/2014/01/how-netflix-reinvented-hr > [Accessed 30 April 2021].

Mullins, L. (2010) Management and Organisational Behaviour. Harlow: Pearson.

Trump, D. (2020) Trump: Whats the deal?. [Online]
Available at:< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYU2FJxsSeE&gt; [Accessed 26 April 2021].

Wall Street Journal (2012) Steve Jobs Remembered by Larry Ellison and Pixar’s Ed Catmull. [Online]  Available at: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Yk4k2tG4A&gt;
[Accessed 25 April 2021].

Wingard, J. (2019) Elon Musk And The Pitfalls Of Creative Leadership. [Online]
Available at: < https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonwingard/2019/04/10/elon-musk-and-the-pitfalls-of-creative-leadership/?sh=5aa82e033f3e&gt; [Accessed 25 April 2021].

9 thoughts on “Leadership and Change Management

  1. I like the example of Hastings as a leader. True to form he disrupted the industry by side stepping the paradigm and changed the way productions transacted. Thanks for sharing – great insights and research!

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  2. Thanks Joe! Willingness to accept change is one of the biggest things adults have to accept. Sometimes we need a leader to bring it out of us. Personally the best way to accept change is to find that common ground with my beliefs. Great write up! Cheers.

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  3. I Like “There is no perfect team but a perfect asynergy”. Grab is a very good example explained how changes happening in the organization. Enjoy to reading your blog and learn a lot. Thanks for sharing.

    Looking forward to you next blog.

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  4. Wonderful sharing, Joe. The blog shows the big efforts of doing a lot of researching on the leadership styles and effect on change management! Leaders play a crucial role in steering organisational change and inspire or stimulate people for achieving excellence at work by realising the pre-defined goals.

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  5. A very well written piece which have touched based with various change strategy. Personally i would have chose 1 to expand and discuss. But again, thats me.. hahaha.. Great work and lots of blood sweat and tears bro. You continue to work this hard, you get 1st class.

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