Essay: Leaders Can Effectively Manage Change

Pages: 13 (3903 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] In highly engineering-centric cultures including Google, this is an essential attribute of leadership. Managers at Google are given 360-degree performance reviews every year. Their subordinates also participate in these reviews, and rate their leadership skills specifically in the area of leading professional development efforts. As intellectual stimulation is such a core aspect of the company's culture, managers are often evaluated on this aspect of their performance alone. Google's competitors and comparable companies in high technology re also taking a comparable approach to this dimension of transformational leadership as well.

The third attribute of transformational leaders is inspirational motivation. This is the most visible attribute of a leader as it is often discussed by the media and internally within companies. This is the one attribute of transformational leadership that many theorists cite as critical for charismatic leadership to also emerge as well. The best leaders are able to bring their own unique style of inspirational motivation to their organizations, often infusing a unique identity to this aspect of their leadership style. Some of the most effective leaders have continually relied on showing how committed they are to a vision or mission, further bringing their entire teams along in the process. They model the behavior and attitudes that are essential for the entire teams to succeed.

The fourth attribute of transformational leaders is idealized influence. When leaders are role models and provide ample evidence of how committed they are to a goal or objective, combined with consistency of focus and direction, idealized influence is created. This is also a component of charisma for many leaders as they seek to continually fuel the passion for a vision they have. The best leaders have the ability to interpret situations and challenging conditions both within and outside an organization and use idealized influence to navigate their teams through them. This fourth aspect of transformational leadership also relies heavily on the EI skills of a leader to accurately assess when this aspect of their leadership skill needs to be used (Piel, 2008). For many leaders who are considered transformational based on their accomplishments, this is a foundational element of their leadership styles. It is what many of the best leaders have consistently used to continually earn and keep trust while also increasing a high level of autonomy, mastery and purpose into their teams. And those three elements in turn fuel long-term motivation to continually improve over time. Excellent leaders balance idealized influence as part of their unique leadership style.

Leading Organizational Transformation Through Trust

One of the resonating findings from the literature review completed for this analysis is how precious trust is as a catalyst of organizational change (Douglas, Zivnuska, 2008). Without trust in a leader, even the most brilliant plan cannot succeed. The many mergers, acquisitions and layoffs that have occurred and will continue to reshape entire industries require leaders to define more challenging, often daring visions of the future if their companies are to survive. Every employee realizes this who studies their specific industry, as does every manager and certainly every CEO. To gain buy-in for programs and initiatives, leaders must continually seek to reinforce the authenticity, transparency and trust they have within their organizations and across the broad, often highly varied base of stakeholders they must also work with. All of these actions, which great leaders orchestrate so well so they all align perfectly to their vision, further reinforce and strength the trust others have in them. The finding that trust is the currency that makes lasting organizational transformations possible (Douglas, Zivnuska, 2008) is seen in empirical studies of how Google and other high technology companies rapidly move through new product development and quickly translate knowledge into customer-driven products and services. The lightening fast pace of Google's development organization is attributed to the high level of transparency and trust throughout the organization, even if it means negative feedback has to be given at times. This keeps the entire culture open and honest, and arguments with regard to new products are often lengthy and very complex, with their culture of continuous improvement and testing dominating many of the decision processes. Not all organizational cultures are as intense as Google is, yet many have their unique attributes and characteristics. This is why trust is such a critically important attribute for any leader to cultivate and continually provide over time.

Leading organizational transformation through trust must also keep transactional leadership in its place as well. There are a myriad of studies that show how powerful transactional leadership is in the context of attaining short-term strategies (Burke, Sims, Lazzara, Salas, 2007). Between the short-term gains inherent in using transactional leadership approaches and the long-term visionary strategies of the best transformational leaders, there is a balance many leaders are able to maintain over time, using a situational leadership approach to meld these two strategies (Douglas, Zivnuska, 2008). This is also an area that researchers have seen the value of EI as a component of transformational leadership as well. EI is essential for determining which aspects of transactional vs. transformational leadership need to be used in a given situation. The highest-performing leaders have the innate ability to determine which transactional vs. transformational approach needs to be used, how, and when. This EI-based intelligence is essential for their continual support of a strong corporate vision everyone identifies with and supports. It is also the foundation for ensuring the vision of a transformational leader gets translated into reality, and continually gets reinforced through the actions of the organization. For change to be made permanent there needs to be a continual focus melding the best possible transactional and transformational leadership styles for the needs of employees, teams and stakeholders over time (Fitzgerald, Schutte, 2010) (Leban, Zulauf, 2004).

How Leadership Transforms A Vision Into Permanent Change In An Organization

While transactional leaders seek immediate results and often attempt to use rewards to change short-term behaviors, transformational leaders must continually reinforce the vision to be achieved and provide concrete feedback regarding progress (Bromley, Bromley, 2007). Managers who rely on transactional leadership can often attain short-run objectives, yet the more challenging aspects of creating, navigating toward, and accomplishing a vision requires a synthesized approach to both transactional and transformational leadership (Piel, 2008). This hybrid or synthesized approach to managing the fulfillment of a specific vision or strategy must also continually reinforce a teams' belief in their ability to accomplish the goal as well. Leaders make change permanent throughout their organizations by using four dominant strategies. These include first showing a high level of confidence in the team's ability to accomplish the challenging goals (Bromley, Bromley, 2007). Second, leaders who are effective at making their visions a reality and a permanent part of the organizations they are part of are also highly empathic, have strong EI skills and operate from a solid foundation of trust as well (Douglas, Zivnuska, 2008). These are adept at creating a culture of high achievement where employees take ownership of outcomes and continually strive to deliver exceptional results. Insightful, intelligent leaders also realize that the more they strengthen their team's confidence and ability the more willing they will be to continually learn more and further support the transformation of the shared vision into reality. This is particularly true in companies that rely on information technologies and a rapid pace of innovation to continually fuel new products such as Google. Transformational leaders also routinely self-sacrifice for the attainment of the vision of a company, further differentiating their leadership style from transactional leaders (Singh, Krishnan, 2008). The act of self-sacrifice further underscore the value of the vision to the leader and also shows that it is worthwhile to every team member and stakeholder as well (Schneider, George, 2011). The unifying aspect of this approach to leadership also relies heavily on EI as the galvanizing force that brings together all elements into a cohesive, trusted leadership style over time (Leban, Zulauf, 2004).

The Moment of Truth For Transformational Leaders Is Getting Results From Cross-Functional Teams

Transformational leadership within one's own organization can often be accomplished through the use of the techniques included in this analysis. To make leadership effective across cross-functional teams however is significantly more challenging. The forces that must be taken into account to attain this level of performance are based on share outcomes of long-range goals and objectives and the alignment of leadership expectations across an organization (Antonakis & House, 2002). This ability to create a solid alignment of leadership expectations across an organization is directly linked to how well a leader can illustrate through role model behavior why adhering to shared expectations is critical for building trust with other departments throughout an organization. This is also especially important for managing the balance between transactional and transformational leadership as well (Fitzgerald, Schutte, 2010). The most effective transformational leaders also seek to create a shared expectations model with other stakeholders throughout the organization as well. Their focus is on how to create enough transparency and visibility into their interdepartmental… [END OF PREVIEW]

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