leadership and its relationship to change

Leadership and Change

Over the years, scholars have tried to define leadership and its relationship to change. According to Northouse, leadership is a term that can hardly get confined to one definition. One definition of leadership describes it as a process whereby an individual influences other individuals to achieve a common goal (Northouse, 2007). Northouse’s definition of leadership has two key terms; an individual and a group of individuals, which makes it appropriate for use in an organizational environment. The administration is using one personal power to win the hearts and minds of people to attain a common purpose (The Leadership Trust). An example of a great known leader is Mahatma Gandhi, who is known for his leadership styles and traits. The definition introduces the charismatic aspect of leadership with a new direction of a sense of direction. The world has experienced the leadership of people who did not exhibit any form of charisma (Pardey 2016). When weighing the two definitions of leadership, the later description proves to be more influential and appropriate in many institutions.

According to the business dictionary, management gets defined as the process of organizing, planning, leading, and controlling people within a group to achieve goals. The definition of supervision is a narrow explanation of what idle leadership entails. Management is a form of leadership that has specified roles of the manager who is the leader and group of individuals with tasked responsibilities. The difference between leadership and management is that the previous ensures change, while the latter oversees functionality. Control is an elaborative form of leadership whereby managers take people through the path a leader points. An effective leader needs to ensure not only a change of unpleasant traits but also the functionality of the idle habits to acquire. Inactive leadership requires the process of challenging the path that one needs to undertake with his or her group.

Leadership theories and frameworks

The Evolution of Leadership Theory

The great man theory

The theory bases its definition of leadership on the fame of great men and women whose names appear on the historical books of the world. A person exhibiting the traits of the ancient heroes was legible for any leadership position or the title of a leader. The theory places personality as the basis of leadership. According to the method, leadership was something that could get passed on a generational line by birth. Examples of leaders who align with the theory include Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi. The grand man theory of leadership gets applied to political organizations. The reign of kings, which had a perpetual hereditary system, implemented the great man theory of acquiring direction. Some of the leaders who used the great man theory include Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln. They were born with leadership qualities and attained divine greatness.

Trait theory

The theory develops as a critique of the grand man theory. It brings forth the argument that leadership characteristics can be acquired rather than innately obtained. The approach engenders the idea that specific leadership traits can get obtained with practice and environmental predisposition with time. It is the theory that brought the concept of modelling leaders into the desired nature of society. Qualities such as intelligence and charismatic personality were trained to people who wished to occupy authoritative positions in society. Trait leadership theory gets applicable in many learning institutions starting with the lowest to the highest ranks of education.

Behavioural theory

The shortcoming of trait and grand man theories of leadership engendered the behavioural idea of occupying an authoritative position within a group of people. The behavioural approach focuses on the actual behaviour of a leader rather than the individual traits of a person holding a leadership position. According to the theory, leadership involves the development of interpersonal relationships between leaders and their subordinates. The efficiency of a leader will influence the working ethics of his or her crowd. The behavioural leadership idea was mostly applicable between 1950 and 1960.  Most organizations believe that leaders should exhibit particular traits that are beneficial in the production rate of an institution. Therefore, leadership training and summits seek to teach and inculcate the idle qualities of leaders into the people occupying high ranks of their institutions.

Contingency and Situational theory

The theory focuses on the operating position of a leader rather than personal characteristics. Contingency and Situational theory advocates believed that leadership high gets influenced by the external environment. Leaders act bases differently on the external stimuli they get predisposed. A leader in a conducive environment of cooperating subordinates is likely to have a high production cost as compared to one in an institution of pessimistic people. The theory brings the idea of dynamics in leadership, whereby a leader should be flexible to adjust to different circumstances. Start-up business is likely to employ this kind of leadership idea before changing to the market.

Servant, Charismatic and Transactional theories

The three concepts of leaders form the basis of the current leadership system in many institutions. Servant leadership theory focuses on the idea of leaders placing the interests of subordinates as a priority. It is a leadership concept that applies in all organizations by putting the interests of works first using legal documents such as contract forms. Charismatic leadership is based on the idea that a leader is endorsing with exceptional traits. Historically, in times of social dilemma, charismatic leaders were known to emerge with solutions and visions of the future. Charismatic leaders were known to exude confidence, which makes them the modern leaders in the army and force departments. Transactional leadership idea is one that encourages leaders to use motivational factors in behaviour appraisal and punishments to shun vices. Most institutions employ the theory by providing motivations to works inform of incentives, house allowances, and insurance covers.

Transformational leadership theory

This leadership theory conceptualizes the idea of a leader working with an identified group of people in finding underlying faults. Transformational leadership theory works towards helping followers of leaders attain their fullest individual potentials. The leadership theory relies on four central ideas; intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, personal considerations, and idealized influence, which a leader exhibits towards his or her subordinates. It is a leadership idea that describes leadership as responsible for setting and attaining organizational goals and visions. Leaders who believe in this theory make use of emotional appeals and symbols to form enthusiastic teams. Global organizations such as Google make use of transformational leadership ideas. Mahatma Gandhi led by example, meaning he was a transformational leader who motivated his followers by empowering them. Gandhi’s transformational leadership is evident as he united people to stand for what they believed. Transformational leaders make their followers feel courageous and confident about themselves.

Integrated leader-manager Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership can be defined as a practical concept of leadership where individuals and organizations can adapt to changes in the business environment and respond effectively to recurring challenges. The leader-manager adaptive problem is beneficial to an organization because it brings about a better understanding of the hierarchical aspects and allows people to accept experiments and implement changes that will last. Adaptive leaders can create conditions that enable them to achieve specific common goals in an uncertain environment.

Leadership Concepts

We all have unique traits that we are born with and other characteristics that we develop. Character traits tell us a lot about our leaders. Character shows the moral authority of our leaders to exercise their powers. People are born with the ability to lead, which they can modify but cannot develop it. Mahatma Gandhi is an example of a leader born with leadership traits.

Leadership is considered a skill, which means the knowledge on how to perform a specific task that you are competent. Our experiences in life allow us to gain leadership skills that can be learned and implemented. Effective leaders are always willing to gain more knowledge and better their leadership skills.

Leadership is an ability that suggests that leaders should be able to lead others effectively. This concept also indicates that Leaders are required to lead others by being a good example and a role model. The capability of leaders to drive could be a natural ability that can be modified through learning. People develop their talents through practice and consistent hard work.

Leadership behaviour can be defined as a leader’s actions. Behaviours are learned and can be easily understood, and Leadership behaviours should be consistent and ethical, upholding the leader’s moral values. Routines can be changed to increase leadership effectiveness. Mahatma Gandhi expresses his leadership behaviours by practising specific values such as honesty, justice, unity and equality.

Leadership relationship is centred on the ability of leaders to communicate with other people effectively. A leadership relationship is a connection between leaders and their followers. Leaders should understand the perspective of their followers by listening to them and considering their welfare.

An Influential Process can be described as a process where a leader influences other people to be able to achieve specific shared goals. During the interaction process between a leader and the follower, the leader can effectively manage to control the follower. Common goals between people may give an ethical dimension towards effective leadership. Mahatma Gandhi was an influential leader who used the internalization process to influence people.

Global Leadership Attributes

Globalization is an essential aspect in the world of business. People travel across the world for business opportunities and hold conference calls on different time zones. Poor leadership could not be easily noticed at the beginning of globalization, while today, it can be easily detected and exposed in minutes across the world. Global leadership attributes include self-awareness, where an effective leader should be able to understand their strengths and weaknesses in their line of work. Effective global leaders should be patient and focus on the long term goals of the business. Leaders may want to make rash decisions to cope with the increasing competitiveness but may end up causing mistakes. Global leaders have excellent communication skills and can communicate with stakeholders effectively.  Global leadership also entails the attribute of trustworthiness, where leaders are highly respected for their transparency and are dependable.

For someone to be considered as a global leader, he or she should be willing to embrace diversity and thrive out of their comfort zones. Global leaders should be able to understand the perspective of other stakeholders by listening to them and showing empathy. Successful global leaders adapt to changes in the business world consistently, desire to gain more knowledge, and effectively communicate with other people by motivating them to be better. The ability of leaders to build lasting partnerships across the world with the company’s vision in mind determines the success and growth of the organization.

Leadership styles

Leadership style can be defined as a method a leader uses to implement plans, show direction, and motivate followers. The Autocratic style of leadership suggests that leaders should solely make decisions regarding the organization. Democratic leadership, on the other hand, suggests that leaders should share responsibilities and the power of making decisions with the members of the group. An example of a company using the democratic leadership style is the Pepsi Company.

Leadership behaviours on Stakeholders

Stakeholders can be defined as parties interested in an organization, and they can be affected or affect the business. Stakeholders can also be described as individuals or a group of persons who have shares in a particular organization. In a company set up, there are internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders are people who are involved directly in the business operations and strategies such as managers, investors, a board of directors, owners, and employees. External stakeholders, on the other hand, are the outside parties. They are involved in management but can be affected or affect the organization indirectly, such as customers, creditors, competitors, intermediaries, clients, suppliers, communities, society, and the government. External stakeholders do not take part in the daily activities of the business, unlike the internal stakeholders who serve the company. Internal stakeholders are more involved in the domestic matters of the company, while the external stakeholders are not involved in such issues. There are leadership behaviours that affect the stakeholders of an organization, both positively and negatively. Positive leadership behaviours strengthen the relationship between leaders and the stakeholders of an organization. Leaders who ensure there is equity in the community of stakeholders increase organizational effectiveness. Virtue ethics promotes the development of a leader’s character allowing the stakeholders to support the organization comfortably.

Ethical Leadership

For one to explain the perception of ethical leadership, we must first consider the ethics concept. Ethics can be described as guideline principles for leaders’ conduct (Waheed, Hussin, Khan, Ghavifekr and Bahadur 2019). Ethical leadership is, therefore, leadership that is influenced by the application of upright values and moralistic beliefs. The character of leaders is determined by their moral beliefs and values that also arbitrate how a particular leader exercises the leadership powers gained. Leaders are required to lead others by showing a good example and being a role model by making the right choices and upholding their ethical standards. Mahatma Gandhi is an example of an ethical leader who led by example and supported his moral values. The perception of ethical behaviour in a business environment can be explained through the moral conduct of the supreme leaders and the specific culture established in the organization. In an organization, the difference between supreme leaders can be seen depending on their leadership style expressed through their traits. Competent, ethical leadership is a significant theory that entails the use of moral concepts as a principle in the management of subordinates. Leadership scandals in the world have led to the consideration of ethical leadership in our societies (Baron 2018). The collapse of major organizations such as the Lehman Brothers and Enron Company was due to unethical behaviour leading to a calling for moral guidance to emerging.

Three different approaches can explain ethical leadership and showcase various aspects of the decision making process. The first ethical theory in administration is the utilitarianism theory. The utilitarianism theory suggests that actions don’t matter as long as the outcome creates happiness and benefits others. Utilitarianism is recommended to be ethical if it aims at creating more joy and is useful to more stakeholders of an organization. According to this approach, the leader of a group or an organization should focus on the wellbeing of the subordinates by ensuring they are joyful before undertaking a specific action (Lucas, Wee and Maat 2016). Leaders’ concern should be the consequences of the work and not the act itself.

The second theory is the libertarianism approach, which suggests that the leaders’ main concerns should be defending the freedom of stakeholders of an organization or the individual members of their groups (Lemoine, Hartnell, and Leroy 2019). Actions that may restrain the liberty of the individuals should be avoided at all costs. In this theory, the intent of the people is the primary concern of the leader. This approach is related to Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonism or virtue ethics.

The last leadership approach is the “ethical theory of doing the right thing” by Immanuel Kant, which suggests that decision making should be based on choosing the proper means. Ethical and moral actions are based on the rules and regulations of a specific organization, which should be adhered to by the leaders to ensure they make ethical decisions and undertake the right actions without considering the consequences (Baron 2018). This ethical theory believes that the customs and rules of an organization can influence a leader to choose the right choices and correct responses.

Impact of unethical leadership on organizations

Unethical leadership can have severe impacts on an organization and individuals. Immoral leaders are characterized by their inability to show the direction to the subordinates resulting from their lack of moral ethics and a vision (Baron 2018). Poor leadership in an organization may affect the productivity of the company, lead to credibility loss, destroy their reputation, lead to financial loss, and influence the general morale of subordinates in the organization. Unethical leadership may also lead to the fall of an organization (Hassan 2019). For instance, the “Big Five,” an accounting firm, went bankrupt and was forced to shut down and surrender its licenses due to the unethical behaviour of one of its stakeholders.

Another impact of poor leadership is the lack of teamwork and coordination in an organization. Unethical leaders focus on their wellbeing at the expense of the welfare of other individuals, which leads to distrust between the employees, their leaders, and the management team. Good leaders have a responsibility to consider the health of other people before making decisions and specific actions. Poor leadership is also the primary reason why most people leave their jobs due to losing morale. Employees may lose confidence if they feel demeaned or not appreciated for their efforts. Favouritism in organizations may also prompt the employees to lose morale. Leaders should interact with the employees and ensure they feel recognized for their efforts.

Leadership and Change

The business world has become highly competitive; thus, leaders should be more willing to accept changes in an organization. Leaders should be resilient toward change and take necessary measures to cope with the rapidly changing business world (Hayes 2018). Customers’ demands also keep on changing; hence and organizations should reshape and meet their customer’s needs. Effective leaders should be flexible and perform actions that ensure change is adopted as fast as possible.

There are several causes of change in an organization. These include a shift in government priorities, Structural alterations, merging of businesses, change in strategies and products “end of life.” If the government stops specific projects from being accomplished, an organization will be forced to make changes and adapt to the government’s decision. The government may also ban certain products forcing an organization to adapt to manufacturing a different outcome, merging of company results to change because the company structures’ are recreated. When the market for a particular product diminishes, the company may have to abandon the product and find another one. A change in the company’s priorities may lead to moving in the organization (Tang 2019). PepsiCo is an example of a company that has undergone several changes over the years and effectively managed them.

Barriers to change are conditions that hinder the implementation of change in an organization. The first barrier to change is the resistance by individuals who feel uncomfortable toward the change. This can be overcome by addressing the issues prompting the employees to resist. Another barrier is a lack of effective communication, which should be the centre stage for implementing change. Strategies to ensure effective communication during the period of change should be established. Cultural barriers are a bigger problem when it comes to change (Holmes, 2017). To overcome this barrier, a leader should deeply understand the cultural background of the stakeholders affected by the change.

Leaders must understand the benefits and disadvantages of introducing change in the organization to be able to manage change effectively. One of the benefits of difference is that it may lead to an improvement in the company’s productivity. Most changes are implemented to promote the growth and success of the business by maximizing profits and cutting costs. One of the problems of introducing change is that change may lead to slowdowns of the workflow if the issues arise due to change implementation. Some changes may damage the relationship between an organization and its employees, affecting the reputation of the company (Low 2018). Variations might lead to failure of the business if proper research was not done before implementation.


Competent, ethical leadership promotes the success and growth of an organization; thus, one cannot separate ethics from the organization’s competitiveness. Leadership is an aspect that determines the growth and success of an organization. The change should be embraced by ensuring it is adapted and managed effectively.


Baron, M. W. (2018). Kantian ethics almost without apology. Cornell University Press

Hassan, S. (2019). We Need More Research on Unethical Leadership Behavior in Public   Organizations.

Hayes, J., 2018. The theory and practice of change management. Palgrave

Holmes, J., 2017. Leadership and change management: Examining gender, cultural and ‘hero leader’stereotypes. In Challenging Leadership, Stereotypes through Discourse (pp. 15-43). Springer, Singapore.

Ko, C., Ma, J., Bartnik, R., Haney, M. H., & Kang, M. (2018). Ethical leadership: An integrative  review and future research agenda. Ethics & Behavior28(2), 104-132

Lemoine, G. J., Hartnell, C. A., and Leroy, H. (2019). Taking stock of ethical approaches to         leadership: An integrative review of ethical, authentic, and servant leadership. Academy    of Management Annals13(1), 148-187

Low, K.C.P., 2018. Leadership and Change. In Leading Successfully in Asia (pp. 371-387). Springer, Cham.

Lucas, K., Van Wee, B., and Maat, K. (2016). A method to evaluate equitable accessibility: =      combining ethical theories and accessibility-based approaches. Transportation43(3),  473-490.

Pardey, D. (2016). Introducing leadership. Routledge.

Tang, K.N., 2019. Change management. In Leadership and Change Management (pp. 47-55). Springer, Singapore.

Waheed, Z., Hussin, S., Khan, M.I., Ghavifekr, S. and Bahadur, W., 2019. Ethical leadership and change: A qualitative comparative case study in selected Malaysian transformed schools. Educational Management Administration & Leadership47(4), pp.624-639.


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