Leadership is a set of profound practical approaches that determine the success of various change projects within any organizational context. Leadership has already turned into the instrument of guidance and direction for the majority of international and local companies. The close conjunction of leadership and management guarantees that the company will take stable position on the market in the long-term period. Leadership helps determine the basic priorities of the company’s development and lead the organizational process towards predetermined goals and objectives.
Innovation and change remain the two key components of the successful leadership; the ability to implement innovative decisions and strategic changes determines the success of any leadership strategy that is implemented within specific company. The development of shared vision, communication strategies, and commitment determines the success of management projects in the constantly evolving organizational environment. Successful leadership: innovation and change Change is the key to successful management.
The ability to implement changes determines whether the company is able to stay afloat in the constantly changing competitive environment. Change is intensely personal. For change to occur in any organization, each individual must think, feel, or do something different” (Duck, 1993). That is why leadership skills require understanding the significance of change. Leadership cannot exist without change; without leadership, the change cannot become real. For the change to become relevant and useful, the leader should guarantee that all followers have their experience and thinking conversed to end up in the “at a predetermined place at approximately the same time” (Duck, 1993).
Such approach to leadership will ensure that the leader and the followers follow the same leadership line, clearly understand their performance goals, and possess sufficient and effective tools for achieving these goals. These leadership approaches will also insure the sharedness of thinking, and the leader’s realization of possible problems and obstacles on the way towards organizational and performance highs. Change requires innovative thinking; change means developing new thinking; change implies meeting the challenges which leaders and followers have never confronted before.
The combination of innovation and change in leadership serves the instrument for addressing the major challenges and tasks within any organizational framework. However, how do we shape the required leadership framework that allows implementing changes and affecting the process of organizational performance? Several key factors determine perfect leadership. Leadership is the critical element that guarantees appropriate balance between leaders, managers, and employers from all company’s divisions.
To be a leader and to manage changes means to be able to stabilize the relationships between the leader and the group of followers, who further carry the leader’s vision of organizational change across all organizational levels. Duck (1993) writes that managing change means managing the conversation between the people leading the change effort and those who are expected to implement the new strategies, managing the organizational context in which change can occur, and managing the emotional connections that are essential for any transformation.
Thus, leadership is the source, the initial stage, and the ruling force of transformations within any organizational context, but it becomes irrelevant if the leader is not able to deliver the message, the mission, and to develop emotional connections between the separate elements of the organizational structure. Leadership is impossible without conversation; leadership is also impossible without the already mentioned emotional connections. Leadership cannot turn into management, and cannot bring any positive results if is does not turn into the tangible set of organizational goals.
Such transformation is impossible if the leader fails to speak his ideas to the followers in a way that makes them comprehensible and achievable. The leader’s ability to speak the goals and methods of organizational change implies that the leader is able to move the employees out of their control zones, and to establish the sense of urgency in terms of any organizational change and any organizational objective. Overestimation of leader’s abilities to move people ahead is one of the major mistakes a leader makes at the first stage of implementing change. Most successful change efforts begin when some individuals or some groups start to look hard at a company’s competitive situation, market position, technological trends, and financial performance” (Kotter, 1995).
However, it is not enough for a good leader to realize the scope of the needed changes, and the need to change the current organizational context; successful leadership has a clear vision of how the minds of the followers should be changed to make them follow the leader and to realize the critical need for a change. Followers should be moved; they should be pushed towards changes.
Followers require motivation, and a successful leader is the source of this motivation. To see the need for change may be easy, but it is a deceptive impression. In reality, the first stage of change management is the most difficult of all: employees should be motivated and driven. As soon as the employees and followers are motivated and driven towards change, the next stages of change implementation will be faster, easier, and more goal-oriented. A good leader will never quit if change efforts fail at the initial stage of change initiative.
A good leader is able to distinguish the major problems, to facilitate the frank discussion of these problems with the followers, and to further promote the importance of change championships across all company’s departments. Here, ideal leadership combines the sense of urgency with the ability to persuade the followers that the first failure does not indicate the need to give up the whole change management process. The sense of urgency is always reasonable and important: “when the urgency rate is not pumped enough, the transformation process cannot success and the long-term future of the organization is put in jeopardy” (Kotter, 1995).
A successful leader will never be too safe; a successful leader will not be too cautious, but will constantly move towards the predetermined goal, overcoming obstacles, meeting challenges, and inspiring the followers. The urgency rate is high enough to transfer to the next stage of change management, when the three quarters of the company management are convinced that change is inevitable. “People in the organization may need to hear a message over and over before they believe that this time, the call for changes is not just a whim or a passing fancy. It takes time for people to hear, understand, and believe the message” (Duck, 1993).
A successful leader is not only able to deliver the message, but can objectively evaluate the responses from team members. Duck (1993) says that “what counts is the point of view of everyone else in the organization”, and the success of change management depends on whether the leader is able to interpret, reinterpret, and reevaluate the way followers see the ultimate goals of organizational changes. Communication and balance requires understanding whether followers believe in the success of change, and whether they know what this change means for them and for the organization in general.
The leader’s role is to understand whether employees require leadership assistance to better understand the ultimate goals of the implemented change, and whether they are able to communicate their concerns to the leader. When the leader is able to pass the first stage of change management and to incorporate his vision into the minds and souls of employees, the next stage is to make the followers communicate their opinions. A perfect leader will never compel his followers to deliver “a winning love vision” as soon as employees are involved into change management process (Davenport, 2005).
To expect this type of response means to put the whole change management process under the threat of failure. The need to communicate is justified by the need to create different systems of employees’ opinions and thoughts; these subsequently form cohesive working teams that further lead the organization to a new changed position. For a good leader, the followers’ viewpoints are the keys to creating an integrated and well guided coalition of thinkers who realize the need for the change and are ready to act. A good leader understands that a good team is not created overnight; “the leadership coalition grows and grows over time” (Kotter, 1995).
A good leader understands that it is not necessary to involve all senior managers into change management process; on the contrary, a careful analysis of the team members is required before they enter the change process altogether. “In both small and large organizations, a successful guiding team may consist of only three to five people during the first year of a renewal effort. But in big companies, the coalition needs to grow to the 20 to 50 range before much progress can be made in phase three and beyond” (Kotter, 1995).
A good leader realizes that the number of team members is not critical; content is more important when it comes to guiding change initiatives. Leadership implies the importance of team integrity and performance integrity (Sirkin, Keenan & Jackson, 2005). “By performance integrity, we mean the extent to which companies can rely on teams of managers, supervisors, and staff to execute change projects successfully” (Sirkin, Keenan & Jackson, 2005). The integrity between the leader, managers, supervisors and the staff determines the stability and success of leadership.
Senior managers are frequently reluctant to invite key performers into the team, but a successful leader realizes the value and importance of these performers for the whole process of change management. That is why the company should make everything possible to free these performers from their routine work and to provide them with sufficient “change freedom” within the change team. With the key performers being involved, the project team will be able to handle a wide range of pressures, challenges, and obstacles.