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).


Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2).

Biech, E. T. A.-T. T.-. (2007). Thriving through change : a leader’s practical guide to change mastery LK  – (NV-1 o). ASTD Press.

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).

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).

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Eric Yu is a dynamic English Second Language Instructor in the areas of distant learning. He holds a Bachelor degree from the Shanghai International Studies University and is currently studying in the MS degree from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, Canada. Since moving to Canada in 2011, he acclimated himself to the local anculture, and quickly built a cross nation online learning practice, getting involved in IELTS teaching and other online training projects between China and Canada. Eric Yu currently lives in Shanghai, China and work as the team leader of online after-school education in Global Eduation of Puxin Limited. He loves music and is fascinated to search for rare CDs and LPs of rock and jazz musicians in 1960s. Eric Yu has performed well in a diverse range of team environments, from every corner of the world. He lives in Shanghai, China but travels around the world frequently both for work and leisure.

2 thoughts on “Reflection on Leadership in the changing environment”

  1. Hi Eric,
    You have captured many of the challenge of implementing a digital learning initiative well – the need provide sufficient PD, a consistent and shared digital platform, adequate bandwidth and the required IT capacity (and again support) for the implementation. Even tackling one of these aspects of change can be a challenging project, and as you highlight would normally take months of planning. Time for planning was not available during the pandemic, but now that many of these initiatives are still going, what strategies have been successful at your organization?

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your considerate comments. To deal with the technical problems of the stability of digital platforms, my school takes two steps: one approach is to spend more money to use better server, while on the other hand, we adjust the course schedule to aoivd rush hour online, for example by moving part of day sessions to evenings; it does not mitigate the tricky conditions but do helps alleviate the pressure to a large extent. Also, we also record our courses and share it with students who have miss classes due to the accessibility errors – it also helps to offset the repercussions for students.

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