One of the questions that our instructor asked us this week was, “What role does leadership play in managing change?” According to Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015), “Leadership/management provides principles and practices that help in planning, organizing and directing people and resources accomplishing change” (A review of the change literature history, para. 18). Biech states that,
Two keys to success are important for all change efforts:
- You need to have a plan. The plan must translate the concepts into concrete steps so that employees can implement them.
- You need to carry out the plan—all of it. Carrying out the plan requires getting everyone involved who has a stake in the change.
So you must plan the work and work the plan (2007, chapter 3: Models of Change, para. 1).
Weiner says that, “Indeed, some suggest that failure to establish sufficient readiness accounts for one-half of all unsuccessful, large-scale organizational change efforts” (2009, para. 4).
I think it’s pretty clear that all of these writers agree that leadership plays a monumental role in managing change, and that without proper guidance and planning on management’s part, the change is likely to fail.
One hurdle that leaders are often faced with when managing change is getting the employees on board with it; they can be awfully resistant sometimes. After finishing this week’s readings, I couldn’t help but think about two companies that I’ve worked for that have experienced many changes, as their approaches to getting employees on board are extremely different and yet both effective. One is the school I’m currently teaching at in China, and the other is FedEx where I worked for seven years in Canada. When my current boss is rolling out a change, he usually messages us in our WeChat group (he holds a meeting if it’s a serious topic or a large change). He is very clear and to the point. He advises us what the current situation is, what the change will be, when it will take place, why the change needs to be made, and how it will benefit us or the company. He then takes an authoritative approach and tells us that we are all expected to abide by the change and that we can contact him directly if we have any questions or concerns. Sometimes people do have some complaints, but they get those complaints off their chests and then move on and accept the change. End of story. While I was working at FedEx, I went through their management program. In order to graduate from the program, one must prove that he/she has mastered their list of leadership attributes, one of which was named “intellectual stimulation”. Intellectual stimulation is meant to be a way to encourage people to problem solve through creativity, however they used it as a way to steer employees towards the change that they already wanted to implement, all the while having the employees think that they came up with the idea themselves. Quite effective and clever, right? Or is it just manipulative? I’m wondering what your thoughts are about these two change management styles or one that you’ve experienced yourself.
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. Retrieved from
Biech, E. (2007). Models for Change. In Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD. Retrieved from
Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). Retrieved from