Leadership and Organizational Change

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Topic: Business & Economics
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Introduction

The efficiency and success of an organization greatly depend on the type of leadership approaches or strategies that are practiced in the corporate organization.

According to some organizational change scholars, a leader must be capable of influencing, motivating, and enabling others to contribute to the success and efficiency of an organizational process (Maxwell, 2005; Kirimi, 2007). Undertaking the stabilization of an organization, after the commencement of a change process, is very critical to the success and continuity of an organization.

The Strategies of Addressing Resistance to Change

There are a number of strategies that I would use to address any resistance to an organizational change. These strategies include education and communication, participation and involvement, facilitation and support and negotiation and consensus (Vukotich, 2011).

With respect to education and communication, one of the best approaches used in dealing with resistance is to provide the appropriate training to stakeholders, especially employees, about the change efforts at hand. Besides, upfront communication and education assist employees in appreciating the need for every planned change (Vukotich, 2011).

On the subject of contribution and participation, when workers are engaged during the change, they are highly likely to provide their support to change initiatives. Facilitation and support provided to employees can help change managers to deal with resistance during difficult moments, especially when a planned change process is just about to be implemented (Daft, 2007).

This is particularly very important when the change process is supposed to be done rapidly. In providing support to employees, I would ensure that all the resources they need to fully and confidently participate in the change process are provided.

The last strategy I would use is negotiation and agreement (Daft, 2007). With this strategy, managers are able to deal with resistance by providing incentives to employees so that they may be induced to provide their full support to the process.

I believe that all these strategies would ensure that the change process in the organization would be planned and executed without any jeopardy from employees. However, I acknowledge that despite all these strategies, employees and, probably, a few of other stakeholders might still present a big challenge to the change process. In this case, I would employ the use of a minimal force or coercion to ensure that the process does not fail (Sharma, 2006).

The Organization Selected and the Leader Interviewed

Clayton County Library System has been described as one of the most prominent libraries in Craighead County. It was founded in 1941 through the collaborative efforts of the Jonesboro Women’s Club. Following its establishment, Clayton County Library System has experienced tremendous growth; it has grown to become one of the largest corporate organizations in the region.

This, together with the gradual expansions, represents a progressive organizational change that has had great benefits to both the local communities and the staff members working in the library (Clayton County Library System, n.d).

In terms of services, the Clayton County Library System has a well-organized system to ensure that the unique needs of different groups of people are met using appropriate approaches. For instance, the library has tailor-made services for youths, adults, and children (Clayton County Library System, n.d).

The leader of Clayton County Library System, who is also the outgoing director, is Carol Stewart. Even though there is an interim director, the outgoing director was more resourceful to the interview because she was the one credited with most of the organizational changes that took place in the library for the last thirty years (Clayton County Library System, n.d).

She began working for the library in the year 1980; this a time when the county was still a part of the Flint River Regional Library System. Since she joined the organization, she has presided over the construction of the library’s new branches with the latest construction being the Forest Park branch (Clayton County Library System, n.d).

The Leadership Interview

Carol Stewart possesses a number of leadership styles that she has manifested in various ways while leading the Clayton County Library System. In this case, she has been exhibiting three main types of leadership styles: servant leadership, participative leadership, and situational leadership styles.

Servant leadership

One of the most prominent leadership styles exhibited by Carol Stewart is servant leadership. Servant leadership was first proposed by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s (Wallace, 2011). It is a kind of leadership that can be described as a framework of ideas whose main emphasis is service to others. The proponents of this style contend that service to others is what motivates leaders who exhibit its elements (Hannay, n.d).

Servant leadership arises when a person subjugating a leadership position takes up the position of a helper during her or his dealings with followers. Carol Stewart has always shown the desire to serve both the employees of the organization and the library users (Dierendonck & Nuijten, 2011).

Another important feature of servant leadership is that a leader should acknowledge that he or she has a responsibility towards followers as individuals, and must possess a sense of stewardship for all of them and the organization. In this case, Carol Stewart has shown that she prefers and practices the act of servant leadership. For instance, she has been encouraging service to others among the employees.

Again, leadership scholars argue that a servant leader should be one who always pays a lot of attention to the development of work environment and support structures that encourage high levels of satisfaction among employees (Dierendonck & Nuijten, 2011). This is what Stewart has been doing.

Besides, she has always exhibited her servant leadership quality by building a learning organization in which individual employees are motivated to grow and nurture their careers as to be of distinct value to the Clayton County Library System. She has been empowering and developing employees to serve the library’s clients in better ways.

The reason Carol Stewart has been exhibiting the servant leadership style can be explained by the fact that the library’s mission is to serve the community members who are in pursuit of knowledge and information (Clayton County Library System, n.d). Therefore, in order to serve the clients better, servant leadership has been very crucial to the leaders and employees of the Clayton County Library System.

Participative Leadership

This leadership style is also known as a democratic leadership style. A study conducted in 1939 under the leadership of Kurt Lewin found out that the participative model is the most successful leadership style when compared with all other styles (Ray, 2012).

It is a type of leadership in which a leader involves all stakeholders, including employees, in the identification of the essential goals and objectives and developing approaches or procedures to reach those goals and objectives (Ray, 2012). From this viewpoint, a participative leadership can be seen to be a style of that relies greatly on a leader specifically acting as a facilitator and not simply issuing instructions or orders to his or her subjects (Ray, 2012).

The most important aspect of a participative leadership style is that it enables a leader to develop other leaders, especially for a future takeover. This is because leaders who adopt this style often encourage the active involvement of all the team members within an organization (Dubrin, 2008). When this happens, all the team members are able to demonstrate their creativity and further develop their skills and capabilities.

The advantage of this is that it exposes the talents and abilities that cannot be revealed when other styles are used. This has a lot of benefits to the current team; one of such benefits is that the current leaders are able to point out the potential future leaders and those who should be given opportunities to handle specific responsibilities (Dubrin, 2008).

The interview outcomes showed that Carol Stewart had been able to demonstrate this leadership style in many ways. First, she has been providing opportunities for every team member to contribute his or her ideas during the operations of the library. It is important to note that the Clayton County Library System has many departments dealing with different issues.

This would make it difficult if Stewart were to use authoritative or any other type of inappropriate leadership style. By practicing participative leadership, Carol Stewart has always been able to run the entire organization; she used to allow different team members of various departments to make decisions and come up with different courses of action in certain situations.

However, it is worth noting that she still held the right to make the final decision, but after considering the contributions of all the team members.

There was no other time when Stewart demonstrated the participative leadership style more than during the library’s change periods. When the library was planning for any change process, she ensured that everybody was involved in the entire process. This allowed the team members to support and fully participate in the change processes.

She also demonstrated this during situations when there were technical problems that required technically able team members to cooperate by combining their expertise to find appropriate solutions.

Situational Leadership Style

Following an interview, I also realized that Carol Stewart also practiced the situational leadership style; evidenced by how she blended different types of leadership styles. The situational leadership theory was first developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. It was first introduced as a life-cycle theory of leadership during the 1970s (Blanchard, 2009). Life cycle theory of leadership was later renamed situational leadership theory (Blanchard, 2009).

The simple foundation of the situational leadership theory is that there are no leadership styles that are better than others (Blanchard, 2009). Efficient leadership does not only differ according to the leader of the persons being led; it also hangs on the kind of tasks, roles or jobs that need to be assumed or accomplished (Blanchard, 2009).

Therefore, the situational leadership style requires that a leader be able to demonstrate different kinds of leadership in different situations. This means that a leader should possess a blend of different styles. Carol Stewart demonstrated this kind of leadership on different occasions.

First, she would change her leadership style depending on the prevailing situations within the library. She would use the different leadership styles she has to steer organizational changes, strategic planning processes, procurement of library supplies, deal with problems and influence the performance of employees.

Qualities, Characteristics, and Skills of the Leader

Stewart, as a leader, has a number of qualities. One of the qualities she has is that of humility. Humility is the quality of being respectful and modest when interacting with others (Owen, 2006). A humble leader lacks pretense as he or she strives to be realistic (Owen, 2006). This quality has enabled her to be effective in many ways. It is important to note that to involve others during decision-making processes requires a lot of humility (Owen, 2006).

This is what has made Carol Stewart’s leadership to be very successful. The interview further revealed that Stewart also possesses the quality of courage. Stewart used courage to meet some of the goals and objectives of the Clayton County Library System. She mostly took risks when dealing with issues of change processes.

It is worth pointing out that organizational changes and processes are often beset with risks, some of which are foreseeable while others are not (Donaldson, 2001). The result of this is that Stewart has been able to achieve the goals and objectives of the library. This is exemplified by the number of development projects the library has accomplished under her leadership.

Integrity is another of Stewart’s leadership traits. In every leadership position, integrity is a vital component of the important traits an effective leader should possess and exhibit. Integrity can be defined as a concept of dependability of actions, measures, and expectations (Donaldson, 2001).

With respect to ethics, integrity implies honesty accuracy and truthfulness on the part of an individual. An effective leader needs to have all these qualities (Donaldson, 2001).

With respect to this, the interview showed that Stewart always showed integrity during her thirty years of leadership. Integrity helped her to win the respect and trust of everybody who worked for the library. In fact, it clearly came out that this was one of the reasons she served for the entire thirty years as the director of the library.

Decisiveness is a quality that Stewart utilized in making decisions within the organization. It is the ability to weigh the available options and arrive at the most appropriate options. In relation to this, while making decisions, she also defended her morality. This made her come out as somebody with moral courage (Donaldson, 2001).

It is also important that, besides characteristics and qualities, an effective leader should possess some skills, especially those that are most appropriate to different leadership responsibilities (Donaldson, 2001). Therefore, Carol Stewart was also found to have some fundamental skills that made her leadership be successful during the thirty-year stint at Clayton County Library System.

Some of the top-rated skills that a leader should have are communication skills. One of the most important components of communication is interpersonal communication skills. These skills come in handy when interacting with other people within the organization (Donaldson, 2001).

Stewart demonstrated her communication skills throughout the period she was the library’s director. She was able to communicate effectively while conducting staff meetings, performance appraisals, and company meetings. She used her interpersonal communication skills to rally all the stakeholders behind common objectives. This also helped her to communicate and coordinate the change issues with much efficiency.

In addition. She was found also to have coaching skills, which are very important for leaders who are mindful of the future leadership of their organizations. Stewart demonstrated this by providing informal training to other employees of the library in preparation for future promotion or more responsibilities. This ensured that the library never lacks competent individuals who are able to take up more responsibilities.

For the thirty years she worked as the director of Clayton County Library System, Stewart demonstrated the spirit of collaboration, which is also another significant skill for a leader. She involved all the departments in every change initiative that took place in the organization.

The Motivational and Empowerment Strategies used by the Leader

The leader, who was interviewed, used numerous motivational and empowerment strategies during the period she led the library. One of the strategies she has been employing is to monitor the individual needs of every employee. Each employee in an organization has his or her own unique concerns and needs; some of the needs may be related to family matters (Silva, 2009).

Stewart realized that when the personal needs of employees are not taken care of, they may not be effective at work. According to the interview outcomes on this issue, Stewart seemed to have been conversant with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and she used it to the advantage of both the employees and the organization.

The net effect of taking care of employees’ personal needs was that the employees worked hard to achieve the organizational goals of the library. Moreover, by paying attention to their personal needs, Stewart has been able to enlist the full support of the employees during change processes.

The other strategy she used was the provision of support and resources required for the performance of tasks. When employees do not have the necessary resources and support to do their work, they may not be motivated to work (Silva, 2009).

In relation to this, Stewart has been making sure that employees are equipped with the necessary skills to efficiently perform their duties. Besides, she also made sure that the employees had all the vital resources needed to achieve the library’s organizational goals and objectives.

When employees are given the opportunity to participate and contribute their ideas during the operations, they are highly likely to be motivated to work without coercion; they are also likely to be more creative than when they are not involved (Silva, 2009).

For the year Stewart has been working as the director, she has been ensuring that all the stakeholders, especially the junior employees, are involved in the running of the organization. This has also won the trust and commitment of the employees who are always determined to help the library achieve its objectives.

The Role of the Leader during an Organizational Change

Carol Stewart played a major role during the last major changes that took place in the library. Before discussing her role, it is important to describe the change that took place. Clayton County Library System recently underwent a physical expansion in which a new branch was constructed in Forest Park. The construction of the new branch was informed by the need to expand the operations of the library.

The community members seeking the library services had been increasing in numbers. It also meant that the library would change the manner of its operations in order to accommodate any necessary adjustment in the tasks of every employee in different departments (Clayton County Library System, n.d).

Hence, one of the roles she played was that of a motivator. She is the one who motivated the need to have a bigger library structure to ensure sufficient library services to the community members.

The interview revealed that she sensed the urgency of having bigger structure and subsequently shared it with all the stakeholders, including the employees. In essence, once she realized the need for the required change, she took an early opportunity to communicate the ideas to the employees and all other stakeholders. This gave them time to internalize the change and give their full support.

Carol Stewart also provided the necessary resources required to effect the change process (Burke, 2010). Once the new library branch was opened, she ensured that the employees had all the resources and support they needed to successfully go through the change period. This helped them to feel comfortable during the process. Moreover, she also played the role of the decision maker.

In many cases, change processes often come with a lot of risks, which may have negative consequences for individual employees. Due to this, most people fear to make decisions that may appear risky to the entire organization (Burke, 2010). With respect to the construction of the new branch and the subsequent transition to the new building, Stewart was always ready to issue instructions about what was to be done so as to guarantee that nothing went wrong.

She motivated the employees to view the positive aspects of the new change and take advantage of the new facilities to enhance services to clients who seek the services of the library.

Addressing Resistance to Change and Implementation of Rapid Change

Organizational changes normally attract support and resistance almost in equal measures (Einbinder, 2010). The interview conducted revealed that Stewart, having been aware of this possibility, came up with specific strategies to deal with any possible resistance to change. One of the strategies she used to address resistance to change in the library was effective communication.

She clearly communicated all the details of the change to all employees and other stakeholders before the planning process commenced. Through communication, she was able to convince about the importance and necessity of having a new building with an increased capacity. Moreover, she made sure that communication was sufficiently interactive so that employees could also give their views (Einbinder, 2010).

The other strategy used by the leader was to provide support and all the necessary resources required during the transition period (Einbinder, 2010). After the construction of the new building, all the staff members were required to transit from the old to the new building. This implied that they had to go out of their normal routine, which could be stressful and time intensive.

In order to facilitate the process, the leader provided employees with the necessary support and resources. Furthermore, in order to ensure a smooth change, management scholars advise that employees should be involved during the planning and execution processes.

This is what Stewart did to deal with any possible resistance. She took into account the ideas and concerns of all employees while leading the process; this made the employees feel that their inputs were valued.

With respect to the implementation of rapid changes, the leader employed the strategy of negotiation and agreement (Einbinder, 2010). During a rapid change, employees are in most cases caught unaware (Einbinder, 2010). This may result in opposition from the employees. Therefore, to avoid any resistance during rapid changes, Stewart negotiated with employees to come to common agreements that the change objectives would be achievable.

Besides, the leader also provided incentives through various rewards to those who exemplified outstanding performances. The rewards were very instrumental in persuading the employees to provide their support during rapid change processes.

During the interview session, the leader was asked whether the strategies were effective or some of them failed. She argued that all the strategies were very effective, given that she had used them for the past thirty years.

Literature Review

This section will review and synthesize literature materials on servant leadership, participatory leadership, and situational leadership styles. In this case, it will compare and contrast various ideas on leadership styles.

Servant Leadership

There are sufficient research studies that have been done about servant leadership. Evidence shows that this type of leadership style was first proposed by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay he wrote in 1970 (Jones-Burbridge, 2012). According to him, servant leaders are individuals who consider themselves as servants first, then leaders second. Such persons have a normal proclivity to serve other individuals.

This motivates them to always want to lead (Jones-Burbridge, 2012). According to other literature, this is in sharp contrast to the traditional leaders whose main aim is often to mitigate an uncommon power drive (Waterman, 2011).

Behavioral scientists who have conducted extensive research on the theory of servant leadership have associated it with certain qualities: conceptualization, commitment to the development and growth of other people, foresight, community building, empathy and listening (Vargas & Hanlon, 2007).

Other scholars have come up with twenty attributes of servant leadership. They have further divided the attributes into what they refer to as eleven accompanying attributes and nine functional attributes (Vargas & Hanlon, 2007).

Remarkably, researchers have categorized the attributes described by Greenleaf as accompanying attributes instead of considering them as functional ones. For instance, listening, persuasion, and stewardship attributes have been categorized by many researchers as accompanying attributes (Vargas & Hanlon, 2007).

Values are crucial components of servant leadership. Theorists have reasoned that the features develop out of the intrinsic principles and individual beliefs of leaders. This implies that values are at the core of every leadership philosophy (Dierendonk & Nuijten, 2011).

With regard to applicability in the case of Clayton County Library System, Stewart embodies most of the attributes described by most of the researchers: humility, service to others, empathy, honesty and integrity among others.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that servant leadership theory has been hailed by a significant number of authors and scholars as one of the best styles, it has been criticized on various grounds. Like other social sciences, the modern study of organizational behavior utilizes scientific techniques and needs empirical validation (Dimitrova, 2008).

In this respect, leadership theories need to be precisely translated into specific functional models. The models act as the foundation for establishing hypotheses that can be examined and verified or rejected. Based on this, servant leadership has been censured for remaining grounded in a philosophical model and for lacking experimental substantiation (Dimitrova, 2008).

Participative Leadership Style

Participative leadership is a leadership paradigm that focuses on equality. Researchers have broadly defined it as a leadership style that entails all forms of shared decision making with subordinates and delegation of authority to individual juniors (Hamidi, 2009).

Evidence from many literature reviews and meta-analyses show that the reviews have not returned consistent quantitative research results; this means that the studies about participative leadership are still scanty.

However, Vroom and other researchers developed a theory that specifies certain conditions for participative leadership; research studies conducted with the conditions have generally proven that the model improves the quality of organizational decisions (Horowitz & Jago, 2007).

Other studies have shown that when a leader uses a participative decision-making strategy, the quality of decisions made is enhanced. This is because the leader is able to get ideas he or she does not possess from employees and other stakeholders (Horowitz & Jago, 2007).

The outgoing director of Clayton County Library System exhibited the traits of participative leadership style by involving all stakeholders, especially employees, in the decision making processes within the library. She mostly demonstrated the attributes during change periods. This kind of leadership is also applicable to the library since its services are divided into departments; this requires a participative leadership to help in the coordination process.

It is also important to note that some scholars have criticized the paradigm of participative leadership. Such scholars argue that participative leadership may succeed in some situation and fail in others (Somech, 2005). They further posit that the success of this kind of leadership style depends on the personality of the individual using it, the nature of followers, the task to be performed and the prevailing climate within an organization (Somech, 2005).

Situational Leadership

Carol Stewart also embodies the situational leadership style. There are lots of literature materials that have been produced in relation to this leadership style. The situational leadership theory stems from the idea that behavioral theory is not sufficient for the intricate world of work and society due to the fact that particular behaviors are most beneficial only in specific types of situations (Yeakey, 2002).

It was created by Paul Hersey in an attempt to define what a leader can do in different situations. Proponents of this leadership model propose that a leader should change his or her leadership style depending on the maturity of his or her followers (Fisher, 2009; Farmer, 2005).

The leader of the Clayton County Library System demonstrated this leadership style by determining who, when and how to consult on certain issues. She would change the way she dealt with people depending on the issues at hand. Situations in the library kept on changing due to organizational changes that took place. Every change required a different leadership style to ensure that the library achieved its goals.

The theory has also been criticized on the ground that it is not a consistent style of leadership. Moreover, due to its inconsistency, leaders are prone to cause a lot of confusion among employees, especially those who struggle to please the leader (Graeff, 1997).

Conclusion

One of the elements of organizational culture in Clayton County Library System is the connection of diversity to work outlooks; this constitutes the integration of diversities. This, therefore, requires a leadership style that encourages team members to work together. This is what made Stewart’s participative leadership style to be one of the most effective styles she embodies.

Besides, the library has a culture of initiating changes as it seeks to expand its services to more community members. This implies that situations keep on changing within the organization. With respect to this, the leader was very successful with the situational leadership style applied during change processes.

Again, in an organization where there is cooperation among team members, sharing of knowledge is always very important. The team members get to learn from one another and from the management personnel. This calls for the servant leadership style. Clayton County Library System fits this description; Stewart was therefore very successful with the use of her servant leadership skills, especially during the normal operations.

However, the interview outcomes revealed that the participative leadership style was the most effective. This was followed by the situational leadership, leaving servant leadership to be the least effective.

Through this work, it is clear that situational leadership encompasses a mix of all other leadership styles exercised either differently or together. A leader is supposed to know when to use specific types of leadership to fit different situations within a corporate organization, especially during different processes of change.

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