Change Management Or Leadership Change Management Essay

Change, is the process of moving from the current state to a vision of the future Practical Management Skills, 2012. This transition sometimes puts fear, which often causes distress for people in the organization (source:, 2009-2012). Leadership and management have very wide-ranging and complex domain, and their elements are perceived in various ways. The history has created a lot of great leaders and managers, whose stories bring us valuable leadership and managerial lessons to examine.

The concepts of Change Management and Leadership Change however, have been interchangeably used and interpreted by different people. Ricketts (2012) argues that, some individuals see these terms as synonymous and frequently use them interchangeably throughout phrases and sentences. However, the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of these terms has generated a controversy among scholars over the assertion “change management or Leadership change? Which is more important?

This paper will commence by reviewing change management as well as leadership change. The paper discusses the similarities and differences between the two. Also, the key theories and models of change management and change leadership will be discussed in this report. The study will therefore, conclude by critically analyzing and juxtaposing the two and see which is more important or if it will be necessary to integrate them as well.

Understanding Change Management & Leadership Change

Change management is defined as a “set of processes employed to ensure that significant changes are implemented in a controlled and systematic manner (University of Adelaide, Australia, 2011)”. It involves the use of basic tools and structures to control and manage any organisational change efforts. This means that a change manager in every organisation is duty-bound to initiate and lead change in an organization. It really clarifies that, management implies leadership and leadership is a subset of management. The change management focuses on people, their resistance, their coping mechanisms and ultimately how they accept change in the workplace (Gotsill & Natchez, 2007).

On the other-side of the coin, leadership is “the lifting of people’s vision to a higher sight, raising of their performance to a higher standard, building up of their personality beyond its normal limitations (Drucker, 1986)”. It concerns with the visions, driving forces and processes that fuel large-scale transformation (Kotter, 2011). Looking at the definitions above, each one of them put much emphasis on influence, vision, raising of people’s performance and binding them together. This really makes leadership a key part of the management. In this context, the leader of the change effort is duty-bound to transform the work place openly and transparently to ensure proper management in the workplace. Hannagan (2008, p. 40), opines that, leadership change motivates and inspire people to act in a particular way to achieve specific goals. This can be attributed to those with charismatic and transformation leadership styles. Such people like Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, among others speak to inspire their people. Those leaders are democratic and sometimes apply certain style of leadership based on the situation.

Griffith and Karyl, (2007) argue that, change leadership set principles, techniques or activities applied to the human aspect of executing change to influence intrinsic acceptance while reducing resistance. Change leaders who are charismatic use several techniques for aligning people and through effective communications, direct those whose corporations will be needed. However, because of their situational style of leadership, they sometimes adopt an autocratic style of leadership just to eradicate if not possible reduce resistance. Nelson Mandela who is seen as one of the democratic leaders in the world at a certain point in time became a dictator and autocratic with the aim of reducing resistance among his people.

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Similarities & differences between change management and leadership

Change management based on its definitions, focus on minimising the distraction and impacts of the change, whiles, change leadership is much more concerned with putting an engine on the whole change process to make it move faster (Kotter, 2012).

Also, change management brings a degree of order and consistency in an organization. On the contrary, leadership change does not produce consistency and order, it rather produces movement. Change management sets up plans, budget, organize, staff, control and solve problems in the organization. On the other-side of the coin, change leadership direct, communicate, coordinate, assess, and make decisions (Drucker, 2007). This shows that, change leaders establish and direct where a group of people should go, and energise them to overcome the inevitable obstacles that may come on their way. Kotter (2011) believes that, leadership creates a vision for the future along with strategies for producing the change needed to achieve those visions.

Comparatively, the two are clearly similar in some ways. This is because; when it comes to taking decisions on what needs to be done, creating networks of people and relationship that can accomplish an agenda, both of them are involved. They both try to ensure that employees get the job done. It is now obvious that those who believe that management is an implementation part of leadership ignores the fact that the leadership has its own implementation processes which is aligning people to new directions and then inspire them to make the change happen. On the contrary, those who also think leadership is only part of the implementation aspect of management ignore the direction setting aspect of leadership (Griffiths and Karyl, 2007).

Brief Explanations of the Various Models in Change Management

There are several change management models but the most preferably used by companies are basically three: they are;

Kotter’s 8 steps of change model,

Mckinsey 7-S model and

Lewin’s change management model

Kotter’s 8 steps of change model

The first model which is Kotters’ 8 steps of change was postulated by Harvard University scholar and Professor, John Paul Kotter (born 1947). Kotter (2007, p.1), opines that, “leaders who successfully transform business do eight things and they do them in the right order”. The 8 steps involved in this model are:

1. Increase the urgency for change.

2. Build a team dedicated to change.

3. Create the vision for change.

4. Communicate the need for change.

5. Empower staff with the ability to change.

6. Create short term goals.

7. Stay persistent.

8. Make the change permanent

McKinsey 7-S Model

“Our assertion is that productive organizational change is not simply a matter of structure, although structure is important. It is not also simple as the interaction between strategy and structure, although the strategy is critical too. Our claim is that effective organizational change is really the relationship between structure, strategy, systems, style, skills, staff, and something we call superordinate goals (Waterman, Jr et al., 1980, p.17).” The above quotation shows how the Mckinsey 7-S framework was developed.

(Adapted from Waterman Jr. et al (1980:p.18)

The Mickinsey 7-S model was propounded by Robert H. Waterman, Jr., Thomas J. Peters, and Julien R. Philips in the early 1980’s. The model is used to assess and monitor changes in the internal situation of an organization.

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Lewin’s Model

Lewin’s Model of Change Management which is the third model to be discussed in this paper was propounded by a German-American psychologist, called Kurt Lewin in the 1950’s. His model was based on Unfreeze, Transition (change) and Refreeze as demonstrated below (source:

Unfreezing Transition (change) Refreezing

(Adapted from

According to Lewin, in order to initiate change in an organization, you must melt the ice in the cup to make it amenable to change (Unfreeze). Then from there, you can mold the ice water as demonstrated above in the shape you want it to be (that is- change) and when change takes place, you can also solidify the new shape if you want a new shape (Refreeze) (source:

To conclude, change management should be a process that focuses on people, their resistance, their coping mechanisms and ultimately how they accept change in the workplace (Gotsill & Natchez, 2007).

Review of Leadership Theories

Several academic scholars such as Dulewicz & Higgs, 2003; Handy, 1982; Partington, 2003 have categorized leadership theory into six main schools of thoughts over the last seventy years. Diagrammatically, these are the six theories of leadership.

However, due to the nature of the question, only three out of them will be treated in order to beat the word limit.

The trait school

The idea behind the trait theory is that, leaders Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great are extraordinary people who are born with leadership qualities and they are destined to lead.

Situational theories

As the name implies, this leadership style requires the leader to be dynamic. This is because some situation may require a different style of leadership such as autocratic style or democratic style. For e.g. Mandela at a certain point in time adopted the autocratic style in order to make his people accept the change he wanted to bring.



The central concept here is change and the role of leadership in envisioning and implementing the transformation of organisational performance (Bolden et al, (2003).

(Adapted some of them from Wikipedia, Kendra (2012) & Bolden (2003)).

Analysis on “Change Management or Leadership Change? Which is more important?

From the explanations above, successful implementation of major managerial innovation such as customer-centric restructuring, six sigma and the likes, which are critical to the survival of every organization relies on integrating both change management and change leadership (Griffith and Karyl, 2007). To them, integrating both creates value on a given project or initiative for a number of reasons. Lewthwaite (2010), argue that, a leader who lacks basic skills in management is unlikely to get any further than a manager who cannot lead. She maintained that, although a leader can fire people up with a vision, but he might lack the ability to make it into a reality. On the contrary, change management may know the nuts and bolts of getting things done but he might have to drive the team every step of the way (Lewthwaite).

Griffith and Karyl (2007) pointed out that, since organisational change focuses on the people side of change, working with all levels of staff to ensure that employees are willing and able to make the change, they might need change leadership which will set principles, techniques or activities to influence the intrinsic acceptance of their employees. They expatiate that, this will help to eradicate, if not possible, reduce resistance of employees to its minimum. To Hannagan (2008), the most effective managers are also leaders and the quality of leadership has become increasingly important of management ability. He further argued that, in an entrepreneurial role, whereas change management initiate and lead change in an organization, change leadership sees opportunities and challenges and make decisions to deal with them.

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In addition, “the best strategic planning is of no value if the organisation is not ready to execute the strategy proactively through a timely and dynamic change leadership process” Griffith and Karyl, (2007, p.17). These two scholars believe that, when technical activities and people side activities are combined, the right steps can be taken at the right time in the project lifecycle to help employees embrace change and produce the right outcomes for the project. They argued that, crafting of a vision, motivating and adhere to people affected by the change in an organization to make sure they adopt and support the change is the work of the change leadership. In view of this, Hannagan (2008) sees leadership as a subset of management. To him, the management concerns itself with behaioural and non-behavoural matters. Massie and Douglas (1977) argued that, whereas managers are corned with developing strategies, putting resources together and organising and controlling activities to achieve organizational objectives, change leadership would select these goals and objectives of the orgainsation, decide what is to be done and inspire people to do it.

Last but not the least, Griffith and Karyl (2007), argue that, based on the activities, scope and nature of the discipline, both are equally important. This is because, the two combined encourages the free flow of information and solves communication barriers. To them, the combined approach will make sure the affected employees are receiving the appropriate information. Hence, the project team receives effective feedback on adoption, usage and reaction to the change.


To summarize everything, the study has revealed that, whiles management makes systems of people and technology work well through planning and budgeting, organising and staffing, controlling and solving problems, leadership creates the systems that managers administer and transition them through creating a vision and strategy, communicating and setting directions, motivating action and aligning people to avoid hazards (Kotter, 2011). Also, whiles management takes complex systems and technology and make them run efficiently, leadership as a discipline creates those systems that managers can administer and transform them in times of growth, evolution, opportunities and hazard avoidance in the organization (Kotter, 2011). Hannagan (2008) summarizes his argument by saying that, whereas change management is about coping with complexity, leadership is about coping with change. He concludes that, leaders set directions and managers plan, organize and oversee the change.


To amass everything, this study strongly agrees with Griffith and Karyl (2007) that, change management and change leadership are equally important in a sense that, when an organization introduces a change with a project or initiative, that change needs to be effectively managed on both the technical side and the people side. The technical side ensures that the change is developed, designed and delivered effectively. The discipline of leadership change provides the structure, processes and tools to make this happen.

On the contrary, the people side focus seeks to ensure the change is embraced, adopted and utilized. Change management provides the basic structures, processes and tools to make this happen (Hornstein, 2012).

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