The primary challenge for every institution is to identify the correct leader who is fully knowledgeable and has the drive to achieve the organizational vision. However, this problem can be overcome by fully understanding the types of leadership, the exact leadership qualities associated with each type as well as possessing the unique ability to recognize the leadership traits in employees. Indeed, a good leader is essential to the success of every institution, and without leadership, nothing goes as planned. Early scholars and researchers on the psychology of leadership believed that not every person could be a leader and that leadership skills build in a person right from birth. In fact, it was not until the nineteenth century that scholars such as Bernard Bass developed the current leadership theories. Essentially, these theories were initially developed with the aim of providing proper instructions and guidance to those in leadership positions and those that aspire to be one. According to Schyns & Schilling (2011), leadership theories are often categorized into six groups based on behavior, situation, trait, power and influence, charisma, and interaction. Apart from the six categories, leadership can also be categorized based on a well-defined set of morals. Many authors describe the significance of leadership models in organizational change in different ways, but it is an accepted fact that some theories are more effective than others, as demonstrated through transformational and situational leadership theories.
Transformational Leadership Theory
Transformational leadership theory describes a process in which leaders interact with their subordinates to be able to develop a crucial relationship that often results in trust and motivation within an organization. In particular, it involves continuously educating and raising awareness among the subordinate employees in an organization about higher considerations through verbal instructions and role modeling. As McCleskey (2014) states, a transformational leader is an individual who disregards his or her own personal goals and interests for the sake of their organization's growth through dedication, commitment, and motivation. They are in charge of directing the transformation of an organization and often take pride as well as ownership in the overall outcome of the organization. Transformational leaders always tend to avoid using authority and power to intimidate followers and instead stimulate their strengths. As a matter of fact, they often exude self-confidence among their followers, supply vision, acknowledge their needs, convey inner strength, and motive their followers on a daily basis. Even more, they are creative, innovative, and inspire employees' indisputable devotion and loyalty to the organization and to themselves. Ideally, every organization runs through a well-defined system that involves financial, humanistic, and technical concerns, and transformational leaders help to change this culture through institutional norms, values, and policies.
According to Bass, Avolio, Jung, & Berson (2003), the importance of transformational leadership in an organizational change can be understood in terms of how the leader affect their subordinates; increasing their awareness, motivation them and improving their focus towards organizational goals rather personal interests. For instance, during organizational change, transformational leaders can help raise the awareness of their followers about the perceived changes and transformations through verbalization and role modeling. Indeed, transformational leaders can be a significant source of change to both employees and an organization by directing subordinates' efforts towards the organization's culture, mission, and strategy. As Garcia-Morales, imenez-Barrionuevo, & Gutierrez-Gutierrez (2012) claim, most successful companies in the manufacturing industries across the world are often run by leaders who apply transformational leadership traits. This is especially true when compared to unsuccessful companies in the same industry. For institutions and organizations to excel, management should understand that effective leadership depends on not only the financial strength and material resources, but also the awareness and growth of the personnel. Such organizations need progressive and dynamic leaders who are competent enough to effectively manage the support system and provide valuable information and resources in the process of organizational change. In particular, since the organizational change may present a number of challenges especially at the administrative level, the management often relies heavily on the cooperation and smooth working relationship with the employees to achieve their overall goal. This can only be done by transformational leaders who act as moral guidance and are moral exemplars of working towards achieving organizational goals.
Similarly, in the process of organizational change, transformational leaders act as the motivation the subordinate employees need to achieve everyday higher-order goals. In most organizations that apply transformational leadership, it is known that the leaders are usually innovative, morally upright, creative, visionary, charismatic, and arouse hope. Their charisma, particularly as demonstrated during a crisis such as transitions tend to inspire their subordinates' devotion and loyalty irrespective of their skills or personal attitudes towards the organization. Essentially, the workers' inspiration derived from these leaders through emotional feelings and sentiments often heighten their motivation and also instill arousal. Bono & Judge (2004) state that transformational leaders lack inner conflicts and often rely on emotional appeals and support from their devoted subordinates to further their organizations' vision and mission. They are always open-minded to new experiences and challenges that can bring positive changes in an organization. It is the best way of giving a bigger picture of visionary leadership in an organization. Generally, transformational leaders are known to stimulate enthusiasm, inspire belief, build confidence, and emotionally arouse their workers.
The process of motivation can further be reinforced when the leader applies individual consideration during an organizational change. In this case, each employee is trained and treated differently from the others based on his or her abilities as well as needs (Bono & Judge, 2004). This aspect of motivation is even more crucial as it also builds a unique relationship and trust between leaders and their subordinates, thereby creating a friendly, informal, and a close working environment. Moreover, these leaders tend to be approachable, and on many occasions, treat their subordinates as equals. They support, advice, encourage, and sometimes set examples and assign jobs in person to build closeness.
Additionally, transformational leadership theory is significant in an organizational change process since the leaders tend to create a culture where subordinates focus more on organizational goals rather than personal interest (Garcia-Morales et al., 2012). The points of focus for most transformational leaders are shared values, relationship building, vision, and ideas; therefore since they act as role models to their subordinates, their overall organizational focus becomes the focus of the workers as well. In this case, they challenge their followers to embrace creativity, innovation, and most importantly devotion to organizational goals. This form of intellectual stimulation not only heightens the employees' overall effort but also creates a problem awareness and problem-solving techniques among the subordinates. These leaders often concentrate on intellectual activities such as evaluation, formulation, analysis, and interpretation to improve their strategic thinking and that of the employees. As a matter of fact, during organizational change, they are able to visualize, discern, articulate and comprehend the threats and opportunities that may arise and together with their followers, they can determine comparative advantages, weaknesses, and strength of the organization.
Even so, transformational leadership can sometimes result in negatives and potential problem to an organization. To begin with, transformational leaders being big-picture thinkers may sometimes overlook key components which may result in the oversight of details. Ideally, forgetting or just overlooking certain processes may create huge problems and sometimes losses to an organization during the process of change. The leaders have to develop self-awareness to offset their lack of detail orientation. Also, when transformational leaders use individualized consideration, they may be drawn to spend more time with some followers more than others, which can create employee favoritism. This can lead to an in-group and out-group where some employees benefit more than others, hence can result in resentments between the groups.
Situational Leadership Theory
In reaction to the transformational leadership theory, the situational leadership theory offers a new perspective, one that focuses on situations rather than mental or social traits. Essentially, the situational leadership theory suggests that there is no specific way of leading an organization and that effective leadership depends upon individual situations. According to Thompson & Glaso (2015), the best and the most effective leaders are those that can easily adapt their leadership styles to a given situation and can determine intimations such as type of jobs that might help them in their endeavors. Indeed, as claimed by the proponents of this theory, leaders should be able to adapt their leadership to the objectives and goals set to them by the organization. These leaders are known to evaluate situations, circumstances, and individuals involved. Unlike other leaders locked into one general leadership style, they often pick the most appropriate type that fits the circumstance at hand.
Situational leadership is essential in an organizational change since it recognizes the need for flexibility and also creates a friendly environment for subordinate employees. Human beings are unique individuals who have different experiences, perspectives, and prejudices that often tend to develop diversity. This can be quite challenging for leaders in their push for organizational change; however, since situational leaders understand these diversities, they often allow room for flexibility instead of treating all employees from a singular perspective. As McCleskey (2014) states, situational leadership builds an environment where subordinates employees are encouraged and to interact and share ideas so everyone can be successful. The leaders do not abide by any specific set of rules. Similarly, situational leaders tend to encourage an environment that relies on the readiness level of their teams. For an average employee working under pressure to meet goals, this creates a work environment which allows them to be cozy with their daily work activities. Consequently, when team members are satisfied and comfortable, their level of productivity also increases.
During the process of organizational change, situational leadership is crucial as it takes into account different development phases and improves leaders' awareness (Luo & Liu, 2014). In this type of leadership style, the primary goals are to determine the competency of each follower instead of grouping them into unproductive categories. When this is done, leaders can now boost the motivation level of their subordinates based on the styles most befitting to them. This approach can be critical in transitions as each worker is tasked with what they are best at, thereby, maximizing th...
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