The Theme of Leadership
The Theme of Leadership
NOTE: This is the first in a series of Weekly Briefings on nine major themes for implementing organizational change found in academic journals. We are looking for clues to answer the question, “Why do some men’s discipleship programs succeed while others languish or fail?” For now, I leave it to you to apply these general summaries to your men’s discipleship program.
BROADER APPLICATIONS: These themes and success factors can be applied broadly to implementing any change program or initiative—not just men’s discipleship programs. You can apply them to change your business, your church, or even your family.
The first major theme of leadership transcends all the other themes in the literature, since leadership is a necessary catalyst for organizations that want to implement and sustain organizational change (LeBrasseur, Whissel, & Ojha, 2002). Kotter calls leadership “the engine that drives change” (Kotter, 1996). Successful leaders have resolved that implementation must be systematic and pursued with steady, relentless plodding (Miller, 2002).
Commitment. Commitment to long term results at all levels of leadership is repeatedly cited as a major factor for the successful implementation of any change (e.g., Kotter, 1996; Repenning, 2002). Strong leadership was required at all levels to successfully implement a continuous improvement program (Beer, 2003).
Transformational style. It is incumbent on leaders at all levels to employ a transformational leadership style (Ayas & Zeniuk, 2001). Five types of leaders, each of which is a factor to successfully implementing change, will now be presented.
The CEO. The commitment of the CEO has been identified as a crucial factor to implementation success (e.g., Beer, 2003; Kotter, 2001; Lebrasseur et al., 2002; Miller, 2002; Zaleznik, 2004). What does commitment look like in practice? CEO involvement and long term support are essential success factors (Okumus, 2003). Charan and Colvin (1999) hypothesized that failure to execute is the main reason CEOs fail, and that selecting the right people or failing to remove the wrong people is the primary way that a failure to execute shows itself. The CEO needs to be a transformational leader (LeBrasseur et al., 2002).
Senior or top management. The commitment of the senior or top management team has been identified as another crucial factor to implementation success (Lebrasseur et al., 2002). Top management’s ability to develop organization-wide commitment was found to be a factor central to the success of implementing a continuous improvement program (Beer, 2003). The commitment of senior management should be publicized (McNish, 2002).
Implementation team. The commitment of the implementation team has been cited as crucial to successful implementation (Ayas & Zeniuk, 2001; Beer, 2003; Freedman, 2003; Kotter, 1999; McNish, 2002). This team should do quality work (Houston-Philpot, 2002). A committed coalition led by a champion is an essential for an organization to successfully implement an organizational change initiative (Kotter, 1995).
Champion. A program champion is a key factor in implementing organizational change programs (McNish, 2002). The champion can be the CEO, a member of senior management, a member of the implementation team, or an outsider such as a consultant. (Johnson, Hays, Center, & Daley, 2004; Houston-Philpot, 2002).
Operational managers. The commitment and leadership of the operational managers who will be tasked with implementation is a factor to a successful change initiative (Alexander, 1985; Beer, 2003). It is important to engage the levels of management that will actually do the work (Houston-Philpot, 2002).
In summary, leadership is a major theme in bringing about organizational change. Related factors include commitment to long term results, transformational style, involvement in the change initiative, and support from each of the CEO, the senior or top management, the implementation team, the champion, and the implementing operational managers. Next week the theme of people will be explored.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
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Ayas, K., & Zeniuk, N. (2001). Project-based learning: building communities of reflective practitioners. Management Learning, 32(1), 61-76.
Beer, M. (2003). Why total quality management programs do not persist: the role of management quality and implications for leading a TQM transformation. Decision Sciences, 34(4), 623-642.
Charan, R. & Colvin, G. (1999). Why CEOs fail. Fortune 139(12), pp. 68-75.
Freedman, M. (2003). The genius is in the implementation. Journal of Business Strategy, 24(2), 26-31.
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LeBrasseur, R., Whissell, R., & Ojha, A. (2002). Organisational learning, transformational leadership and implementation of continuous quality improvement in canadian hospitals. Australian Journal of Management, 27(2), 141-162.
Miller, D. (2002). Successful change leaders: what makes them? what do they do that is different? Journal of Change Management, 2(4), 359-368.
McNish, M. (2002). Guidelines for managing change: a study of their effects on the implementation of new information technology projects in organization. Journal of Change Management, 2(3), 201-211.
Okumus, F. (2003). A framework to implement strategies in organizations. Management Decision, 41(9), 871-882.
Repenning, N. P. (2002). A simulation-based approach to understanding the dynamics of innovation implementation. Organization Science: A Journal of the Institute of Management Sciences, 13(2), 109-127.
Zaleznik, A. (2004). Managers and leaders: are they different? Harvard Business Review, (82)1, 74-81.