Strategic Leadership In An Organizational Change Process Management Essay

The following essay will critically discuss the role of strategic leadership in an organizational change process using relevant theories and example. The objective of this paper is to come up with a solution of the many challenges that occur in the process of organizational change through implementing proper leadership. Organizational change refers to a situation whereby an organization adopts a new strategy in the way it carries out its activities and management for better or removes a major section or an operational department (McNamara, 2011). Strategic leadership on the other hand refers to the implementation of strategies in the management of workers in any organization. Organizations always go through change, at times gradual and other times drastic throughout their normal life cycle whereby organizational leaders may create change driving forces within the organization. For example, radical changes may take place in an organization leading to structural transformation through which organizations attempt to revitalize business orientations through changing the reporting structure. Other changes, for instance, merger and acquisition, transforming the top management of an organization, reorganization and restructuring of the company may affect the organization culture and processes. Most of these transformations in organization are mainly meant to down size the size of the organization (Pryor et al, 2008).

However, organizational change is not always embraced positively by the employees and the stakeholders thus it is a very challenging process (Appelbaum, St-Pierre & Glavas, 2000, Pg 293). Most people are either afraid or unwilling to try out something new and they may go ahead convincing their counterparts otherwise. In other instances, organizational change is viewed like a threat by those who have been used to the old system (Pryor et al, 2008).. For instance, when a certain unproductive department may be scrapped from the company by the management, the employees feel threatened to loose their jobs thus resisting this change. This may lead to demonstration and if the leadership is not very careful, they may end up frustrated and may even fail to achieve their objectives and goals. This is where leaders ought to undertake proper change management in order to accommodate the views of each party and to make proper decision which won’t affect the overall performance of the organization (Thompsons, 2008, p5).

When an organization is going through change, proper change management is vital in order to take the company through proper and successful transition. This is a time when the leaders and the managers need to exercise their leadership fully. Leaders should be the role models and the best examples to the rest of the employees in the implementation of change to show the positive attitude and that change is possible. Apart from action, they should explain the need for change to the employees, displaying the benefit and the importance of change in order to create a positive attitude even as they work towards the change. Once the employees find the attitude that their leaders have towards the change, they will be willing to learn more about the change and they will be motivated to participate more in implementing the change (Pryor et al, 2008).

Several theories will be discussed in the essay pertaining the organization change and change management. We will also look at the economic importance of strategic leadership in change management. This will be in relation to the Arabic nature of the organization culture.

Strategic leadership

Strategic leadership involves use of strategy to manage workers in an organization (Cyprus, 2010, Para1). Strategy refers to a long-term plan of action that has been laid down by a company in order to achieve competitive advantage, by meeting the market needs and the stakeholders’ competition, through proper combination of resources (Johnson & Scholes, 2011). The basic strategy that managers employ in organizations is motivation of workers in order for them to be productive at the end of the day. For strategic leadership to be successful, the managers ought to be critical thinkers and to apply the theories of strategic planning. Leaders are the most important assets of the company since their mode of leadership determines the future of the company and the productivity of the workers. Their input to the company and to the employees inspires them to take the appropriate action thus laying the foundation for the future of the company (Cyprus, 2010, Para1).

Strategic leadership works handy with strategic planning, competitive advantage and comparative advantage. Competitive advantage refers to an advantage an individual or a company has over his competitors by offering goods and services to the market at a lower opportunity cost (Annon, 2011). It is a theory that tries to address some of the criticisms of comparative advantage which refers to the ability of a firm to produce goods and services at a lower opportunity cost as compared to its rivals.

Since competitors can easily learn any strategic position, it has become so challenging for leaders to maintain competitive advantage over their rivals. Also, there has been acute and drastic global competition and technological changes that require the leaders to be updated and we set with the current affairs in order to protect the future of their organizations. Strategic leaders are therefore always focused and looking ahead as well as analyzing the present to prepare the business for what may be ahead (Cyprus, 2010, Para1). The major aspect in strategic leaders is awareness of the market, current as well as possible future occurrences, critical thinking out of action, adaptability as well as growth oriented. They implement their leadership roles by training the employees to get things done by combining resources in order to come up with the best results for the company (Cyprus, 2010, Para1) .

Organizational Change

Organizational change refers to a situation whereby an organization adopts a new strategy in the way it carries out its activities and management for better or removes a major section or an operational department (McNamara, 2011). Organizational change may also occur when the organization evolves through growth with time from what was established to something else after input of resources. This is the development that an organization gains as it grows and it is a major and very significant process of organization change. Since no organization remains static or the way it was established, the topic of organization change has become a very common and widespread topic among business people as well as scholars (McNamara, 2011).

Strategic leadership is very core in the process of organizational change in order to embrace this change in a positive and rewarding way as well as preventing negative impact of change to the company. Leaders and managers are faced with a challenging task to accomplish successful and significant change whereby some achieve beyond our expectations whereas others struggle a lot and fail.

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Reasons for organizational Change

Organizational change is brought about by different reason, some of which are from the management whereas others are out of human control. Natural disaster and acts of terrorism are some of the major reasons that may bring about organizational change. The Arabic community has been facing many of these kinds of hazards in their continents directly or indirectly which has made it important to embrace the culture of organization change in their organizations. For instance, the long time war in Afghanistan and Iraq has affected many organizations leading to implementation of new strategies and dynamics. This is because the terrorist attacks may at times target an organization in such a manner that it is not possible to continue with its ordinary culture. Also, major disasters in the United States have been associated with the terrorist groups in the Arabic community making it very hard for the two parties to do business together thus need for organizational transformation to accommodate these changes.

Change management theories

An organization must be in a position to understand the changes itmight be going through for it to manage it successfully, otherwise, any change is doomed to serious problem and failure. Some of the change management tactics include accepting the brief, diagnosing the change through investigation to be able to understand the change, managing the stakeholders carefully, planning for change by creating a bullet proof plan, managing change project by making it happen in practice, investing in means of turning the plans in to reality, designing the organization in such a manner that it will accommodate the changes and successfully move from the old organization in to a new organization, employing change techniques that will instill personal change among the parties involved in the organization to make it easy in to reality and adopting the 4D change project framework that is good at managing organizational change projects (Annon, 2002-2011, Chapman, 2005-2010).

Scholars have come up with various theories that explains change management some of which include the action research theory, Lewins three step modal, Schein’s Extension of Lewin’s Change Model, The Lippit, Watson and Westley model of planned change which expanded Lewin’s Three-Step Model to a Five-Phase Model, Kotter’s Strategic Eight-Step Model, Mento, Jones and Dirmdofer.s Twelve-Step Model, Jick’s Ten-Step Model and Shield’s five-step model (Pryor et al, 2008 & Kritsonis, 2005).

Let us look at some of the change management theories in details.

Action Research Model

Action Research Model or Theory involves several and diversified tactic of implementing change. It involves a combination of changing the attitudes and behaviors as well as crosschecking and testing the change technique to be employed. Changing of attitude and behavior mostly involves the leadership and the employee (Pryor et al, 2008). This is the very important stage whereby the leaders and the managers ought to exercise their leadership and help their juniors in to the change process. This involves training the employees concerning the change process that may be required as well as giving them a good example by acting as their role models. At this stage, the management should take their time to let the employees and the stakeholders the importance, reasons and benefits of change process that needs to be undertaken in order to create a positive attitude in them and to give them morale towards wanting to learn more concerning the new change in the organization. This part of changing the actions and behaviors of the parties involved in the organization is action oriented because the ultimate goal is to make change happen.

The other part that is covered in the action research theory involves testing the change method being utilized. In this part, the leaders revolve around trying different frameworks in a real situation as a means of testing or confirming whether the theories can yield their objectives. They may also apply different theories in different situations they have identified in the organization that require change. The basic requirement in this part is to understand the change itself in order to avoid repeated try and error but to identify the matching theory easily. There are three major steps that lead to the implementation of the change through strategic leadership. It requires first to diagnose the need for change in an organization probably due to global and technological changes or any other reason. After identifying the need to do organizational change, it is followed by introducing an intervention and finally evaluation and stabilizing change. The above three steps of change are consistent with the three steps to be discussed in the Lewins Model (Pryor et al, 2008)

Lewins Model/ Theory

Lewins model is characterized by three major steps of implementing change which include 1) Unfreezing the present- This involves diagnosing the need for change in an organization. 2) The second step involves moving from the present by introducing intervention. This is where the parties involved stop using the old and the ordinary methods in running the organization and starts using the new changed techniques. 3) Refreezing- This is the final stage of action as seen in the Lewins Model and it involves final evaluation and stabilizing of the change process. This is where the organization community is now convinced that the direction the leadership took is the best and the results may even be felt (Pryor et al, 2008).

For the Lewins model to be significant and permanent it is important to carefully follow the above mentioned steps, otherwise, the impacts will be short lived. It is important to move from the present without giving room to the possibility of moving back. It is a planned change whose speed has drastically increased in the present day. However, the Lewins model can be applied in unplanned changes in a situation where there is a high probability that change will occur. For instance, in the cases of natural disaster like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, the probability of change taking place is very high whereby, these occurrences happen unplanned. It is therefore possible to apply this model on preparation of a disaster to take place in some unknown time. In most cases, the public may not be willing the changes proposed by their leaders whereby the three stages are not carefully followed and this results in damages when the public is caught unawares (Pryor et al, 2008).

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Schein’s Model

This theory is an extension of Lewins Model which describes how the three stages of action should be implemented. It describes on the best methods of unfreezing, moving from the present and freezing. Schein describes that for unfreezing to work, or diagnosing the need for change in an organization, in order for people to embrace the change, they must first see the need for change, whereby they are not satisfied with the prevailing status quo. This is where people start seeing the difference between the existing state and the expected state. Once people realize the gap between what is prevailing and what is expected, they are motivated to work towards change in order to bridge the gap and achieve their goals. In order to achieve or accomplish the desired goal, people must be assured that taking the action of change won’t humiliate or frustrate them in any way (Pryor et al, 2008).

The second stage of organizational change involves moving or changing from the present to the future or the expected goal. Schein identifies this stage with cognitive restructuring which helps people adopt a different view of event from the present to the future. He describes that for cognitive restructuring to be effective, people must identify with new role models as well as acquiring new and relevant information pertaining the new changes to help them move forward (Pryor et al, 2008).

The third stage of organizational change according to the Lewins model of change management is the freezing stage. This stage is involved in stabilizing the change making it permanent and ensuring that it is not short-lived. In his description over this stage, Schein has divided this stage in to self and relation with others. He describes that for the change to be stable and permanent, people must personally adopt the changed way of doing things and make it comfortable and usual to work out things using that method. In relation with others, they must ensure that their attitude and behavior are aligned towards the new system permanently (Pryor et al, 2008, p9).

Lippitt, Watson and Westley’s Expansion of Lewin’s Change Model

This model expands and changes the Lewins model by making the steps of change five instead of three. The five stages of the expanded model include unfreezing, establishing a change relationship, moving, refreezing and finally achieving a terminal relationship (Pryor et al, 2008, p10)

Kotter’s Model

Kotter’s model of change management is an eight phase theory whereby each step lasts a certain period and mistakes in one phase can affect the success of the whole plan. This model is best suit in strategic leadership and strategic management whereby through changing the vision of an organization, it is possible to change the vision of the organization. The eight phases of Kotter’s model include 1) Creating a sense of urgency 2) Proper handling of the resistant groups 3) Creating a plan of action 4) Proper communication of change to the organization 5) Doing the necessary training pertaining the new idea 6) Short terms rewards to those who have embraced change 7) Process evaluation and implementing the necessary changes 9) demonstrating the relationship between new behaviors and organizational success change to reinforce making the change permanent (Pryor et al, 2008, p10)


Role of Strategic Leadership in Organization Change

Strategic leadership involves the application of strategy in the management of an organization. In this case, leaders are very instrumental in ensuring that organizational change establishes and is permanent. There are different types of leaders some of which cannot be able to see through a process of change while others are very good at it However, due to specialization, the two kinds of leaders to discussed briefly below are necessary in an organization setting in the process of change (Centre for Creative Leadership, 2005, p1).

The charismatic leader- This kind of a leader has personal quality and ability to mobilize and sustains a n activity in an organization. During the process of change, a charismatic leader, through personal action and perceived personal characteristics, is able to mobilize the employees and sustain an efficient adoption towards the new dynamics. A charismatic leader can easily change an individual’s values, goals, needs and aspirations. Though he is the popular kind of a leader, his leadership is observable and definable since his behavioral characteristics are very clear. A charismatic leader has three major components: envisioning, energizing and enabling which are very key in the process of organizational change (Schneier, 2011, Pg 281).

Instrumental leader- This kind of a leader ensures that every person in the management team as well as all the employees follow the proposed line of change to ensure that the process is consistent and permanent. He invests in building of competent teams, clarifying the line of action to his team, both leaders and the employees, building in measurements and administration of rewards and punishment depending on how individuals handle the process. An instrumental leader ensures that the established process of change is not short lived but lasts permanently (Schneier, 2011, Pg 281).

Effective organizational transformation requires both charismatic and instrumental leaders. A charismatic leader is good at generating energy, creating commitment and directing individuals towards the new approach of the organization. An instrumental leader eurs consistency in the adoption of te new organizational approach. Let us look at some of the roles of strategic leadership in organizational change management (Ireland & Hitt, 2006, p63).

As mentioned earlier, organization change is not always embraced positively in an organization. In this case, strategic leadership should be capable of introducing the news about change in a very professional and conducive way to ensure that the parties involved receive them positively (Heller & Bonno, 2006). This includes proper prior training, workshops and acting as role models to the rest such that the rest of the people are motivated and are eager to learn more and adopt the change. It is necessary to introduce the process of change in piecemeal to reduce chances of resistance (Appelbaum, St-Pierre & Glavas, 2000, pg 294).

Once the organization is aware of the intended change and the means and dynamics of implementing change, it is the role of leaders to ensure that the procedures are carefully followed. This involves consistent monitoring and evaluation of the employees, rewarding those who do well to motivate them whereas those who entertain laxity are faced with the appropriate repercussion. If the leadership is consistent with monitoring and evaluation processes, adoption of the new leadership techniques may take root very easily and the employees will forget the old system and get used to the new one (Schneier, 2011, Pg 281).

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The effectiveness of the management affects the success of change management a great deal. During the initial stages of a change process, a leader ought to be envisioning such that he is able to create a picture of the future which people can identify with and work towards its achievement. People are more likely to be committed when working towards a common goal (Schneier, 2011, Pg 281).

Another role o a strategic leader is generation of energy and motivation of workers in the organization to motivate them to work towards the set goal. The common method a leader may use in energizing the employees is through demonstration of personal excitement through personal contact with the organization employees. Once employees identify the confidence in their leaders, they may not hesitate to be involved in the process of change (Schneier, 2011, Pg 282).

Furthermore, strategic leadership is responsible of helping people psychologically to be able to perform when faced with challenges. After everything has been done for the employees and is set to do the work, it is important to give them emotional support in times of need. A good leader should be able to listen to his employees, understand their problem and participate in coming up with a solution. Employees tend to have more confidence in that kind of a leader whereby a charismatic leader is better suit for this position (Schneier, 2011, Pg 282).

Economic importance of strategic leadership and change management

Strategic leadership in change management has got its own benefits in the overall community of the organization. Some of its benefits towards the organization include, providing the staff with direction and focus, Forming the basis for objectives and strategies, Inspiring positive emotions about the organization, Ensuring unanimity of purpose and Helping resolve divergent views among employees. It is the basic core of an organization that determines success or frustrations in it (Bondenm, 2009).

However, strategic leadership may at times be biased and fail to provide the benefits that’s meant to bring in an organization. For instance, the strategic vision to be effected by the leaders may only be favoring the interests of the leaders while failing to consider the interests of the subordinate and ordinary employees. Also, senior executives use failure‐prone practices, may engage in or condone unethical conduct, may pay little or no attention to productivity, quality, and innovation, may allocate time and money unwisely and may apply too much intuition and too little rational analysis (Bondenm, 2009).


Strategic leadership and change management are two very close areas which are very interdependent. Change management can be very frustrating and at times disappointing if it is accompanied by poor leadership. To have proper and effective organization change, it is necessary to employ good management whose source is from the leaders. This is why it is important as the essay pertains, to learn the relationship between the two, including the theories describing them, their economic importance as well as the role of strategic leadership in change management.

Every organization has its culture and in this particular case, the organization change must be in line with the Arabic culture. This is because each community has its own beliefs which are different from the rest in the whole globe. However, since diversified kinds of people are likely to work within the organization who may not be necessarily Arabs, it is important to have policies and changes within the organization that are open to the global and technological changes.

Organizations always go through transformation throughout their life cycle. This is because an organization starts when it is small and as people continues investing in it , it continues growing and there may be need for change in one area or another. Also, the prevailing global and technological changes have got so much impact on the well being of an organization. For instance, introduction of the internet has reduced the world in to a cyberspace whereby most of organization needs to adopt these changes. Technology has also reduced the need of so much manpower since most of the work can now be done using the machine. This has led to drastic organizational changes whose goals I mainly to downsize the companies. This results to laying off of staff whose solution has been brought about by the introduction of 24 hour working shift that ensures that work is done all the time.

Organization change may either be planned or unplanned. H planned change s mainly mean to improve the conditions of the organization while the unplanned depends on its nature. For example, natural unnatural disasters r not planned and the change enforced by them may not be positive whereas technological and global effects impacts organizations positively and they are not planned. Strategic leadership is very important in managing both of these changes to ensure that their results ar always positive.

Several theories have been laid down to show the relationship between strategic leadership in change management. When learnt keenly, it is clear that change involves stages which leaders should overlook carefully since a mistake in one stage of change may affect the overall results of the change process. It is also clear that the leaders should be in the front line in the implementation of the change process. Firstly, they should be the role models to the rest of the organization; they should make proper communication to the people and should ensure that the employees stick to the set plan to ensure consistency.

Though strategic leadership has got many benefits, it does not lack a few challenges that affect the effectiveness of the change process. For example, there may lack proper leadership to implement the change process or the change may be biased. Also, the community may resist change making it hard for them to achieve their goals. Through proper leadership and proper prior preparation, It is possible to prevent negative results in a change process.

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