Organizations undergoing significant change require competent leadership to ensure successful implementation of the change. The research field of change management offers several change-models that leaders could adopt to help structure and sequence the process of implementing change in their organizations. The similarities and differences of these models could be discussed at length, but suffice to say that they are all unique in some way. So how does a leader know which model will be the most effective or appropriate for their situation when there are so many to choose from? Are all models able to be used interchangeably? Al-Haddad & Kotnour (2015) theorize that the implementation of a change initiative can be optimized when the change-model that best aligns with the type of change an organization is undergoing, is selected. While this theory seems logical (though it still requires testing), they did not address the impact that aligning leadership styles with change-models might have on change outcomes. In my limited review of the literature, I was not able to identify an instance of this alignment being considered; but instead read discussions about change-models without consideration of the characteristics of those leaders that would guide the change process. As discussed in my recent blog post, my personal leadership style is more adaptive than transactional. Upon reflection and consideration of the literature, I feel that the characteristics of adaptive leaders are best aligned with systematic change-models which explicitly include elements of establishing consensus and nurturing collaboration such as; Beer et al.’s Six Step model (as cited in Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015), Galpin’s Wheel model (as cited in Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015), and Biech’s (2007) Change model.
Change-models which explicitly include steps that address collaboration and consensus make them appropriate selections for adaptive leaders who will lead change initiatives in their organization. “Kahn (2017) described how adaptive leaders will collaborate, seek input, and strive to identify and achieve common goals with those that they lead” (Helfer, 2020, para. 5). While there may be space in other change-models where collaboration and consensus might occur, some models include steps that ensure these elements are addressed. In Lippitt et al.’s Planning model for instance, collaboration and consensus could possibly occur in any of the first three steps, labelled; Scout, Enter, and Diagnose (as cited in Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015). However, it is also possible that these first three steps could occur independent of group consensus or input, and that decisions that emerge from these steps could be made by the change leader alone. On the other hand, if we consider the Six Step, Wheel, or Change models mentioned above, we can see how certain steps in these models insist on collaboration and consensus. The first three steps of Six Step are; Jointly diagnose change, Develop a shared vision, and Foster consensus for change (as cited in Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015). The language used to name these steps explicitly indicates that decisions which emerge from these steps will be ones which have involved collaboration and perspectives from more individuals than the change leader alone. Similar language is also used in certain steps of the Wheel and Change models. The characteristics of these systematic change-models which insist upon collaboration and consensus are aligned with characteristics of adaptive leaders who value input, collaboration and multiple perspectives.
Al-Haddad & Kotnour (2015) posited there may be value in seeking alignment between change-models change-types. Perhaps there is also value in considering the alignment of change-models and leadership styles in order to further optimize the outcomes of an organizational change initiative.
Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234–262. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215
Biech, E. (2007). Thriving through change: A leader’s practical guide to change mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.
Helfer, L. (2020, February 10). Reflection on Leadership Styles [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0111/reflection-on-leadership-styles/