The Role of the Leader During Organizational Change

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  • 0:05 Change Management
  • 0:53 Lewin's Change…
  • 2:26 The McKinsey 7-S Framework
  • 4:34 Kotter's Change Process
  • 5:51 Leadership Characteristics
  • 6:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nick Chandler
With innovative technologies, changing customer tastes, and new laws, it seems the one constant for organizations is change. This lesson looks at models for change processes and the role of the leader in these models.

Change Management

Change management is a term that refers to a change or transition for employees, companies, and other interested parties. As requirements and objectives change in an organization, employees must change as well. In the same way that a ship's captain must plan ahead when the ship needs to sail through difficult waters to get to its destination, a company's leaders need to use approaches and styles to ensure that a transition from a current state to a desired state is as smooth as possible. Managing change also helps make sure that the change process stays within budget and keeps on schedule. Let's have a look at some of the change management approaches that could be used by organizations.

Lewin's Change Management Model

In the 1950s, Kurt Lewin designed a change management model that is referred to as the 'unfreeze, change, refreeze model' due to its three stages of change. Let's take a look at each stage.

Unfreeze means that the organization must get prepared for the change and it must be communicated that the change is necessary and very important for the success of the company. This communication must be presented by the top management clearly with the aim of getting all employees on board with the change and, in this way, minimize resistance to change.

The second stage is change, and this is the tricky part where people must adapt to new ways of working. Leadership is very important. The leaders can make the process easier and help their employees bear the change. This might involve constant communication with employees, but it will also allow employees enough time to adapt. It takes time to adjust to a new way of doing things after months or even years of routine. Rushing the process is likely to cause greater resistance.

The final stage is refreeze. At this stage, people have changed, but there is a temptation when things get difficult to go back to the old way of doing things. Leaders need to reinforce the change and make sure that the new way of doing things becomes routine. This will bring the company back to stability as soon as people accept and adapt to the change.

The McKinsey 7-S Framework

The McKinsey 7-S Framework has seven elements for managing change, all of which must be aligned, as they are interdependent. This is done by looking at the seven elements now and forecasting what these seven elements will be like after the change. In this way, it is clear which of the seven elements will be affected by the change, and that all elements change. Let's have a look at the seven elements:

  1. Strategy: This is the stage where not only a general plan is devised, but clear steps are also planned for the change.
  2. Structure: The structure needs to be considered in terms of how the organization is divided and how this may be affected by the change.
  3. Systems: This refers to the daily activities of employees.
  4. Shared values: This element is the center of the model as it is seen as the most important in relation to the other elements. The values are what the company holds as important and the shared aspect means that all employees share the values, rather than just the top management.
  5. Style: The leadership style will deeply influence how the change is managed. The laissez-faire style is not the best for a change management, as it means leadership takes a laid-back approach, when firm leadership is needed to get staff members on board with the change. The democratic style is an example of a style preferred for change management, as staff members are allowed to have their say on how they see the change and are consulted about the best ways in which the change can be managed. In this way, staff members buy in to the change and are less likely to resist a change process that contains their own ideas and suggestions.
  6. Staff: This element consists of all the employees and the changes in employees (as an example, number of employees) before and after the change
  7. Skills: The element recognizes that the skills required by employees to do their jobs may change after the transition.

Kotter's Change Process

Kotter identified the 8-Stage Change Process, which consists of:

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