The story of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center serves as an example of an influence that a committed leader can have on an organization. The corporate turnaround was successful because the leader, Levy, set realistic, although tough, goals. Levy also focused on transparency – this approach allowed him to connect to both employees and customers (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2016). Next, the CEO outlined his value of quality performance and motivated the staff by appealing to their competitive spirit and desire for self-improvement.
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However, he also was not afraid to take urgent action since he fired some workers in order to decrease spendings and avoid a financial crisis. Finally, Levy paid significant attention to establishing relationships with all departments and staff members, creating new communicational channels, and improving employee-manager interaction.
Levy’s role in this turnaround was substantial – his influential approach and positive view of people allowed him to raise morale and use communication as a way of enhancing workers’ experience. According to Yousef (2017), workers who have a strong sense of commitment to their organization are more likely to have a positive outlook on changes if the latter is targeted at resolving problems. A change leader, in such cases, has a vital part in inspiring and organizing employees.
Levy’s unwavering belief in transparency, for example, can teach one that workers and clients value openness. The lessons from this experience can be used in various settings. When designing a plan for change, one should consider the internal problems such as the lack of training or communicational issues, instead of trying to employ punitive measures. The idea that commitment helps introduce change can be applied to the majority of business settings as well.
Eddie Lampert’s leadership can be considered autocratic – he has used his position as an opportunity to enforce new rules, completely restructure the company, and propose new ways of dealing with customers (Amanchukwu, Stanley, & Ololube, 2015). If should be noted that some of his actions may be viewed as examples of transformational leadership as Lamper aimed to influence workers to see his long-term goals as a source of positive change.
Nevertheless, the inability to show flexibility in decision-making created a competitive and toxic environment for the management and employees. The leader’s approach to restructuring was not based on the company’s situation as much as on Lampert’s personal preferences and aims. While it was clear that the businesses’ merger resulted in a financial problem, the scope of change that Lampert proposed was larger than some other chairmen might have introduced.
The information in the case shows that the restructuring process created many additional issues for the company. The profits continued to decrease; employees were unhappy since managers competed to make their division the most profitable. The leaders and chairpersons disagreed with Lampert’s practices, but his ineffective meeting attendance and autocratic style of communication left other decision-makers powerless.
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On the other hand, the leader has increased profits from the online store – this is a positive change that could be used by Sears in the future. Overall, the organizational change, however, significantly decreased commitment and brought unbalanced internal competition to staff. The main lesson that one can use is tied to the appropriateness of drastic change. The situation in Sears was not improving, but it was relatively stable and salvageable. Lampert, as a contrast, treated this case as an urgent one, being autocratic and dominating the opinions of subordinates with real experience.
J. C. Penney
Ron Johnson came into the company with a positive attitude and a goal to change the company quickly and radically. Such active involvement can be considered praiseworthy– Johnson wanted to participate and help the business grow. Moreover, he acted as an inspirational leader with creative ways of rebranding and appealing to the employees. However, Johnson failed to connect with both employees and customers in a meaningful way, basing all decisions on his personal opinion.
The newly hired directors did not establish any rapport with workers, and the two groups of people developed negative views of each other. Previously targeted customer sectors were ignored as well since multiple popular brands were dropped running the renovation of stores. As one of the JCP’s specialists pointed out, the factor of “people” was not accounted for by Johnson and his team (Palmer et al., 2016). As a result, the brand’s image was damaged by these changes.
Another problem lies in Johnson’s ambitious but unfocused behavior. The lack of communication and his focus on innovation-led to Johnson viewing the state of the company from a detached perspective. As an outcome, he was not seen as a transformational leader but as a person who exercises authority to make decisions. The future of the company, therefore, became endangered since future directors were unlikely to follow in Johnson’s steps.
In order to avoid such mistakes, one should be more attentive to the customer base. It is vital to assess the target audience and collect their feedback to reveal issues and strengths. Next, communication among employees and managers is also vital –detached professionals cannot increase organizational commitment. Similarly, interactions of Johnson with other board members should have been less autocratic and more involved.
A Change Story
A change in my life occurred when I started a new job after being employed by another company for 12 years. While I felt that this decision was thought-out and reasonable, the timeframe of this change has turned this transition from a simple part of one’s life into a real story. When I worked in U.S. Seal Mfg. as an Operations Management, I have completed many goals that were set for and by me. I have exercised creativity and innovativeness to move the company forward, increasing sales, creating an educational environment for workers, and reducing waste.
However, at my new job, I have encountered challenges that required more effort and attention than before. I have viewed this as a valuable opportunity to find new approaches, but the experience at my old job frustrated me when I was reviewing the state of the new business. Thus, I was hesitant to implement major changes after changing jobs apart from those that worked for my previous occupation.
Now, I can see that my initial frustration was caused by the fact that I relied on my previous working experience. Similarly to Johnson, I have tried to use the same strategy for both companies, ignoring the fact that my new workplace differed significantly from the previous one. I did not have the same amount of authority as Lampart, but the lack of initial trust towards other workers’ ideas could be found in both of his and my decisions. In contrast, Levy’s involvement in his subordinates’ jobs can be brought up – this leader, although being unacquainted with the new industry, adapted to the new environment. The lesson of flexibility is what I have learned as a result of this change – my professional decisions should be designed to complement and enhance the current organizational structure.
The most common issues in the situation of organizational change include resistance, urgency, assessment of the change’s scope, and the level of involvement. While choosing to change something in their business, leaders, board members, and other major stakeholders have to understand their expectations and goals of all future actions. For example, the company should evaluate whether changes are urgent or they can take some time for implementation.
Next, the leaders should appraise whether the business needs radical change or some small improvements can fix the existing problems. The discussed cases show that a failure to make such an assessment can be devastating for a firm. In the story of Beth Israel, Levy has made a reasonable decision to let some people go, while giving others additional training resources. At the same time, he created both short- and long-term goals, using a step-by-step approach to solving the arising crises. Furthermore, he chose a single strategy of transparency and communication, increasing morale.
In contrast, both Lampart and Johnson failed to analyze the processes of their businesses thoroughly. While the first did not connect with employees, the second also did not acknowledge clients. In these cases and my experience, the lesson of decisions’ appropriateness is revealed – leaders need to evaluate their environment and acquaint themselves with its opportunities and unique features. The lesson of miscommunication is absent from my story – I have tried to establish a connection from the very start.
All future projects may benefit from the idea that employees’ commitment and customer’s interest are reliant on honest and transparent interaction. The three main conclusions are to invest time into understanding the current values and goals of the company, highlight openness in admitting weaknesses to inspire growth and structure all change activities in defined and understandable steps.
The stories of change show how problems can be dealt with by different people. The leaders in the presented cases all went in a similar direction, but some used their personal experience as the basis for making decisions more than others. Here, it is vital to note that organizational change is a creative process because it involves the issue of urgency and restricted resources, requiring unusual strategies.
At the same time, a leader should approach change rationally, keeping in mind that any significant decision has long-term effects on the business. While the change-related activities may be creative, their implementation should follow a specific order and be approved by the board.
The central tensions and paradoxes are strongly connected to actions’ consequences. For example, the leader should decide whether a small or significant change is necessary for a crisis. The speed of change is also a complex subject – small and slow changes are safe, but they may be ineffective for solving an urgent problem. On the other hand, a major transformation can lead to more problems if it does not have any logic behind it.
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Another paradox lies in the leader’s position in the process of change. In some cases, a strong leader is essential in implementing new processes. In others, a group of professionals or even all workers can be effective in improving their environment. The current understanding of the field shows that people know how to appraise the situation and adapt to fix mistakes. Nevertheless, as many different approaches to change exist, there is no singular way of solving all issues. Thus, personal opinions are still relevant, and individuals continue to find new ways of bringing change.
Amanchukwu, R. N., Stanley, G. J., & Ololube, N. P. (2015). A review of leadership theories, principles and styles and their relevance to educational management. Management, 5(1), 6-14.
Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Akin, G. (2016). Managing organizational change (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Yousef, D. A. (2017). Organizational commitment, job satisfaction and attitudes toward organizational change: A study in the local government. International Journal of Public Administration, 40(1), 77-88.