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Leadership Theories & Change Management

written by: Tara Duggan • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 9/9/2010

Choosing the right leadership style can help a leader implement leadership theories change management successfully in his organization. Managing the change management process involves creating a vision, communicating a plan and evaluating results.

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    3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept Effective leaders create management systems that enable their employees to produce quality products and services in the most cost-efficient way. Developing a clear mission statement allows leaders to communicate their vision and set a strategic direction for their organization. Then, ideally, all activities in the organization can align to the strategic goals set by executive leaders. Managing change in an organization involves preparing people for working differently and motivating them to modify their behavior. Leaders who can manage change expertly by utilizing different leadership theories change management or styles earn profits, achieve growth and maintain a competitive edge.

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    Leadership Theories

    In today’s changing global marketplace, leaders need to be able to assess situations accurately and respond quickly. Learning to apply the right leadership style when coping with a particular situation can help a leader become more effective in his business. Leaders also use their experience, beliefs and values to manage their daily operations. A participative leadership style involves other people when making decisions. An autocratic leadership style makes all the decisions himself. A transactional leadership style establishes a structure for his staff to carry out tasks and earn rewards or punishment as appropriate. A transformational leadership style establishes trust and confidence in his followers so that new policies and procedures can be adopted. Each of these styles or theories about how to lead can be used in managing change.

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    Types of Change

    All companies undergo change routinely. An organization can experience very little change if it manufactures goods and services with long product life cycles. More innovative organizations typically experience more constant change associated with continuous improvement activities. Other changes typically experienced by thriving companies include introducing new products and services or extensively revamping existing ones. Additionally, changes in executive management or operating models can cause adjustments to daily work flow that can disrupt employees. Managing change effectively involves identifying process improvements, developing a plan and implementing activities result in a changed environment for workers.

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    Leading Change

    John Kotter, in his book “Leading Change," defined a process leaders can use to manage change effectively. The first step is get executive endorsement of any changes. Then, leaders can begin to form teams and build a vision for enabling the change. Once the change activities have been defined and clearly articulated, leaders need to communicate what will happen to the affected employees. By rewarding those who adapt to the new policies and procedures, leaders can motivate other people to follow them and overcome objections and barriers to change. Finally, Kotter recommends identifying short-term projects and capitalizing on the lessons learned on small efforts before implementing wide-scale reforms. People need time to adjust to new situations. By allowing employees to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances at their own pace, leaders can help these workers transition to new conditions that benefit both the employee and the company as a whole.

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    Leading change involves motivating the workforce to use new policies and procedures. This can be disruptive and alarming. Effective leaders recognize that preparing employees for change by utilizing leadership theories or styles that are appropriate for the audience or situation make all the difference in achieving long term success. Assessing the population’s needs and responding with actions that help implement needed reforms ensures a leader’s long-term tenure and the company’s continuing profitability and growth.

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    References and Image Credit

    • Kotter's 8-Step Change Model - Change Management Training from" Mind Tools - Management Training, Leadership Training and Career Training - Right Here, Right Now.. (accessed September 9, 2010).
    • Kotter International - Management vs Leadership." Kotter International - Home. (accessed September 9, 2010).
    • Kotter, John P. Leading Change. 1st ed. New York: Harvard Business School Press, 1996.

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