Topic: BusinessLeadership Styles

Last updated: March 9, 2019

Today’s economy is much different from the economies of the past. The present day economy requires more immediate change rather than change over a period of time. This is due to partly to global competition, outsourcing, new and fast changing technologies. However the organizational change models still play a large role in adopting change within organizations. Change is inevitable, just like people must evolve through life cycles so must organizations at various points in their life cycles. Significant organizational change occurs when an organization changes its strategy for success, adds or removes a major section or practice, or wants to change the very nature by which they operate. There are five particular methods that leaders of organizations can follow to induce change within their organization.

First is Lewin’s model, which breaks change down into three steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing, Armstrong (2006) provides greater detail to this process as follows:
Unfreezing – is altering the present stable equilibrium which supports existing behaviors and attitudes. This process must take account of the inherent threats that change presents to people and the need to motivate those affected to attain the natural state of equilibrium by accepting change. .
Changing – developing new responses based on new information.

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Refreezing – stabilizing the change by introducing the new responses into the personalities of those concerned (Armstrong, 2006).

This could be compared to overcoming bad habits by replacing them with new and better habits. An individual, like an organization, must be committed to making the change and to do what is necessary regardless of any inconveniences involved in the process. The end goal is to succeed with the change.

Richard Beckhard (1969) developed a change program, which incorporates setting goals and defining the future state desired, diagnosing the present condition in relations to these goals, defining the transition state activities and commitments required to meet the future state, and developing strategies for managing this transition in the light of an analysis of the factors likely to affect the introduction of change. Depending on the circumstance, an organization may receive the latest quarterly reports and realize that change is required in order to survive or successfully contend with their existing or future competition. A business’s staff can work together to plan and implement change using this program.

A third change model was introduced by K. Thurley (1979) and has five main strategies to managing change: “Directive, bargained, hearts and minds, analytical and action-based” (Brisson-Banks, 2010) . Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages for all parties involved. The primary starting point is to recognize the need for change in an organization. Each of these strategies can be analyzed extensively, used independently or in combination in a manner appropriate for an organization. There could be problems that arise which would require methods from one strategy mixed with methods from a different strategy to support a successful model for a particular business.

Bridge points out a three phase plan that puts focus on the transitions between the states of change. These transitional phases include:
The Ending Phase – Saying goodbye to the way things were, a particular job, associates, a location, even a manager or supervisor can all be changed when realignment happens in an organization.

The Neutral Zone – New environment, new responsibilities, the rules have changed, there are different people to work with and report to, this can all be unsettling as one explores and experiments in this new setting.

New Beginnings – This period requires the final adjustment to new ways of doing many different tasks or even similar tasks but in handling them in a new manner (Bridges and Mitchell, 2000).

Unlike earlier models such as Lewin’s, which speak of institutionalizing or “freezing” behaviors, Bridges focuses his attention on helping people discover, accept, and embrace their new identities in the new situation.

In 1996 John Kotter introduced an eight step model for change which looked at what people did to transform their organizations and help managers deal with transformational change. These eight steps are listed and defined as followed:
Establishing a sense of urgency
Examining market and competitive realities
Identifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
Forming a powerful guiding coalition
Assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effort
Encouraging the group to work together as a team
Creating a vision
Creating a vision to help direct the change effort
Developing strategies for achieving that vision
Communicating the vision
Using every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies
Teaching new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition
Empowering others to act on the vision
Getting rid of obstacles to change
Changing systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision
Encourage risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities and actions
Planning for and creating short-term wins
Planning for visible performance improvement
Creating those improvements
Recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements
Consolidating improvements and producing still more change
Using increased credibility to change systems, structures and polices that don’t fit the vision
Hiring, promoting and developing employees who can implement the vision
Reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes and change agents
Institutionalizing new approaches
Articulating the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success
Developing the means to ensure leadership development and succession (Armstrong, 2006).

Different leadership styles can be incorporated with these methods of change. For example, a leader who expresses the leadership style of intellectual stimulation or democratic leadership can use Thurley’s strategy, specifically the bargaining and hearts and minds approach, which incorporates followers into the planning process and allows their input on who change should be achieved. While leaders who exhibit a commanding leadership style can pair with the action-based strategy to make a quick change in the corporation to adhere to how the leader believes things should operate.

It is imperative that organizations and leaders be able to identify these change management techniques in order to incorporate the right methods and leadership styles that best fit their organization. By doing this leaders will be able to evoke the greatest amount of motivation and, ultimately, change. Leaders who are unable to effectively identify and put these methods of change into place will continuously struggle and fail.


Brisson-Banks, C. (2010). Managing change and transitions: A comparison of different models and their commonalities. Library Management, 31(4), 241-252. Retrieved from url=

McNamara, C. (2006). Field guide to consulting and organizational development: A collaborative and systems approach to performance, change and learning. Minneapolis, MN: Authenticity Consulting.

McNamara, C. (2005). Field guide to consulting and organizational development with nonprofits: A collaborative and systems approach to performance, change and learning. Minneapolis, MN: Authenticity Consulting.

Armstrong, M. (2006), A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th ed., Kogan, London, pp. 343-57.

Beckhard, R. (1969), Organizational Development: Strategies and Models, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

Bridges, W. and Mitchell, S. (2000), “Leading transition: a new model for change”, Leader to Leader, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 30-6, available at: %20Change%20Model.pdf (accessed 06/03/2018).


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