Reflection on Leadership in the changing environment

When it comes to COVID-19 and the consequent moves to distant learning, one of the most important lessons to take away, according to my personal experience, is the significance of conscious insight of leaders of an organization into future trend. Only based on a leader’s insight into unforeseeable conditions, can an organization make plans and response to changes in an orderly and appropriate way. Unfortunately, the first 2 months after the outbreak of the epidemic, my institution were confronted with the lack of practical implementation plan on how to initiate online model for all courses immediately; the supposed plan of digital learning stay applicable on paper to a large extent. Problems regarding this include the insufficient rehearsal and training of instructors, an incompatible learning platform for various tools, and inadequate space and bandwidth to support the operation of multiple courses simultaneously; all these impediments of implementation lead to enormous pressure on participants from platform designers, IT supportive staff and instructors. Based on this lesson, I am convinced that it is the change leadership that plays a key role for organizations to be open to innovation and therefore embrace new challenges – as claimed in the theory of Biech (2007) on getting ready for change, who believe that managing change effectively is the single most important element in organizational success.

According to the readings listed in the unit, the very model that I believe best align with my approach to leading in a digital learning environment is the theory of Lalonde (2011) on ongoing change in reference with an organization’s openness and leading strategy, who argue that an open institution is build by constant change to adapt to revolutionary context and it creates a strategy of continuous learning that embeds in the culture of an organization. Relating this to the inadequate response of my institution to COVID 19, the importance of infusing changing leadership in the culture of a company is once again emphasized. Meanwhile, I will also take some ideas from Biech (2007) about introducing change, one effective option being selecting a change implementation team should early to initiate the change. Given the complex and time-consuming feature of change, an early preparation on action plan, staff and technology is of paramount importance.

As for the role of leadership in managing change, I totally agree with the claim argued by Soderholm (1989) that leadership is the catalyst stimulating innovation and new concepts, who brings new desirable achievements of an organization. Also, it is the entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation embedded leadership that are of particular value to manage change successfully (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015).

Given the above reflection, it seems to me that the unique challenges in managing change for learning in digital environments is appropriate leadership that can provide profonde insight into the future trend of the environment, and make response to changes in a practical way. As mentioned by Winston (2004), it is leaders who sit behind the driving wheel of organizations; they are the only ones who can provide the quick response needed in the changing environment (Goleman, 2000).

References

Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2). https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215

Biech, E. T. A.-T. T.-. (2007). Thriving through change : a leader’s practical guide to change mastery LK  – https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/827944889 (NV-1 o). ASTD Press. http://www.books24x7.com/marc.asp?bookid=22651

Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets Results. Harvard Business Review, 78(2).

Lalonde, C. (2011). Managing crises through organisational development: A conceptual framework. Disasters, 35(2). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7717.2010.01223.x

Soderholm, L. G. (1989). Needed: Engineering Leadership. Design News, 45(13).

Winston, A. W. (2004). Engineering management – A personal perspective. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 51(4). https://doi.org/10.1109/TEM.2004.836586

Leadership Reflection

[Photograph of Leadership]. (n.d.). https://sixandahalfconsulting.com/blog/we-need-a-better-word-for-leadership/

As for my most admired approach of a leader, it is the reflective leadership that I admire most. With reference to the group rating on Characteristics of Admired Leaders ratings, the tops 3 qualities featuring a good leader in initial rating (competent, Dependable, supportive), from my understanding, all align with the attributes described in reflective leadership. According to Castelli, (2016), a reflective leader can be of paramount value in optimizing the operation and performance of an institute, if he or she possess the needed expertise and knowledge in his or her professional realms. Apart from that, the principle on which the reflective leadership theory is based is another key point that wins my heart, namely the consciousness of behaviors, situations and outcomes that aim to streamline organizational performance (Castelli, 2016).

When it come to the most appropriate leadership approach in the digital environment, I would say both reflective and adaptive leadership seem to be equally effective in leading change. From my perspective, I believe that in the digitalized age, the success of an organization is subjective not only to its intrinsic factors within the organization, but also depends on extrinsic variables in the external environment, whether these be competency of leaders, the goals of a company, or the up-to-minute trends in the market. Based on this, the discussion can than move on to handle questions as to how a qualified leader overcome impediments embedded in both domains – this is where the characteristics of reflective and adaptive leadership have roles to play.

While features of reflective leadership such as self-awareness, raising the self-esteem and confidence levels of followers aim to streamline the performance of the organization, adaptive leadership works to align the goals of an educational institution with the whitewater digital environment that involves various determinants that may impacts leaders (e.g. cultural, societal factors) (Glover et al., 2002).

As for the difference between my leadership ranking results with the findings of other leadership researchers, the feature of Broad Minded is ranked the top 1 on my list, whereas other members in my team give priority to Competency or Dependable. The very reason why I venerate broad mindedness over the other characteristics is also identical to the value of open communication indicated by reflective leadership. From my personal working experiences, it is difficult to expect a leader to be versatile in all aspects, he can always seek for support from followers with different expertise when needed, providing he or she has an open mind to accept different suggestions. Also, the broad mindedness also means the willingness to embrace renovation and accept innovative ideas, which is also the key attribute described in adaptive leadership (Khan, 2017).

 

Finally, for the missing from leadership literature in reference to the digital environment, I will look forward to see more discussion on how to dealing with cultural diversity within an organization, as the Internet has connected leaders with a wider range of followers across the globe, thus leading to more undesired consequences during work.

 

References

Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organisational performance. In Journal of Management Development (Vol. 35, Issue 2). https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112

Glover, J., Rainwater, K., Jones, G., & Friedman, H. (2002). Adaptive leadership (part two): Four principles for being adaptive LK  – https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/5399994983. Organization Development Journal TA  – TT  –, 20(4), 18–38.

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or transactional leadership in current higher education: A brief comparison. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 18(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i3.3294