Research Paper: Organizational Transformation and Leadership

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[. . .] These people see the leader as someone who gives orders, and they confuse leading people with managing people. Many leaders are managers, but not all managers are true leaders. In other words, when a person is really a leader, he or she will acquire followers who follow willingly because they understand that they are valued by the leader and by the company (Vroom & Sternberg, 2002). A leader must show his or her followers (employees) that value, so they see it and recognize it in themselves (Chemers, 1997). Once that value has been recognized, employers and their leaders can work together to improve things for everyone. Not every company understands this leadership role, though, and sees leaders as dictators who give orders to employees who must follow them (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2012). Companies can and do operate this way, but the morale will never be as high as it will with a company that understands transformational leadership.

Currently, Wal-Mart's leaders are transactional in nature. They provide rules and orders, by which the employees must abide if they want to keep their jobs. However, the employees have no say in anything, and many of the excellent suggestions they have for how to improve the company go unheard. Leaders who are transformational in nature do not seem to believe that employees are intelligent enough to have good ideas (Spillane, et al., 2004). As such, these leaders miss out on many suggestions that could be highly valuable to them if only they would focus on the actual ideas and stop concerning themselves with the thought that the ideas came from someone who was "beneath" them when it comes to work status. That should not be relevant, as anyone can have a great idea.

Barriers to Success

There are barriers to success that all companies face when they consider a significant change in leadership (Chemers, 1997). It is not easy to move from one style to another, and can take some time to do so. There will be confusion and disagreement, and the company should be prepared for that before it makes any decisions about change (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2012; Spillane, et al., 2004). Once the decision has been made, though, there is no going back. A company that decides to change to a more transformational way of leadership must have a plan and must acknowledge barriers to success in order to decide how to get through (or around) those barriers (Vroom & Sternberg, 2002) For Wal-Mart, these barriers are significant, and they include:

Leadership resistance to change. If something is not broken (in their eyes), then there is no reason to fix it.

A lack of understanding about what transformational leadership really is and how it differs from current leadership style.

Concerns about how the change-over can be made, because business has to go on during any changes. The company cannot just shut down in order to work on changing the way management relates to employees.

It is very important to be considerate and mindful of changes that need to take place when it comes to leadership adjustments (Vroom & Sternberg, 2002). Nearly any barrier can be overcome, but only if done correctly. There are ways to get proper advice on how to address these barriers, and that is something Wal-Mart should do if it moves from a transactional to a transformational leadership style.

Overcoming the Barriers

Getting through or around the barriers that Wal-Mart has when it comes to a change to transformational leadership is something that has to be carefully considered and planned for by the company. It is not realistic to just decide to be more open or allow more teamwork. Careful adjustment over time is the only realistic way to address the issue. As far as current leadership and its resistance to change, that is one of the strongest barriers to be overcome. The employees want change, so there will be fewer arguments there. The leaders are not interested in change, so it must be shown why the changes will be beneficial to them. There are many ways to do that, including raises, promotions, better working hours, or different responsibilities (Chemers, 1997; Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Simply educating leaders on the value of what is being done can also work (Vroom & Sternberg, 2002). With many different options, there are excellent ways to get past the leadership resistance barrier.

Education is important for the leaders and the employees, because many of them may not understand that transformational leadership really entails (Spillane, et al., 2004). Even if they have heard the term, they may not be clear on what will change and how it will make the company work better. Once they understand the value of it, most people will be on board with the changes. Those changes can be made even while the company is up and running. The way to do this is through gradual implementation of various changes that will make the company more transformational and less transactional. This is not an overnight process, and will take months to carry out. However, as employees see positive changes being made, they will be more likely to work harder in order to see even more positive changes take place (Chemers, 1997). That will keep the entire project moving forward.

Conclusion

Wal-Mart is an excellent company in many ways. It provides a lot of jobs in towns where it opens stores, and many other people work in warehousing, shipping, and distribution for the company. It gives back to the communities in which it is located, as well, and people who may not otherwise be able to afford certain things find that they can purchase them because they are affordable at Wal-Mart. However, the way the company treats its employee stakeholders leaves much to be desired. The working conditions and hours can be poor, and there are no benefits. Additionally, the company does not pay well for what it demands of its employees. That is a serious concern, and one that both employees and advocacy groups have been outspoken about in the past. There are great opportunities in the future for Wal-Mart, though, and these would be magnified if the company would make some changes to its leadership. Moving from transactional to transformational leadership would allow the company to give back much more to its employees and to its customers.

Businesses have to make money, but when profits become too much of a focus there is a lack of attention to the employees who helped the company create those profits. Rewarding these employees by seeing them as part of the team and listening to their ideas could keep them much more loyal to the company. It could also provide Wal-Mart with great ideas they can use to provide even more value to their customers and investors. That would raise the value of the company and allow the employees to reap those benefits. Everyone wins in that type of situation, which is one Wal-Mart should more carefully consider. While not easy for a large company to make significant leadership changes, the transition can be one that will bring increased value to many groups of people.

References

Chemers, M. (1997) An integrative theory of leadership. NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Hackman, M. & Johnson, C. (2009). Leadership: A communication perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Hughes, R.L., Ginnett, R.C., & Curphy, G.J. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Spillane, J.P., Diamond,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Organizational Transformation and Leadership.  (2014, March 2).  Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/organizational-transformation-leadership/1923519

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"Organizational Transformation and Leadership."  Essaytown.com.  March 2, 2014.  Accessed April 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/organizational-transformation-leadership/1923519.