Sustainability leadership: Co-creating a sustainable future
Ferdig (2007) presented a reflection of holistic thinking for leadership where economic, social, and environmental aspects join as equally crucial measures for leadership performance. Studying the text reminds me of the fact that no one is immune to global leadership challenges because the world is not very connected, and implications of organization leadership can be felt in different continents. I am taking this in the context of personal responsibility and its effect on the collective responsibility of the organization. Without individual initiatives to deal with accelerated change in the world and the uncertainty it creates, then many present systems used to facilitates order and performance in social and economic environments would fail.
I have often relied on a number of leadership theories to get a comprehensive understanding of particular leadership scenarios. At the same time, I have longed for a comprehensive theory that merges various aspects of other theories to come up with meaning and guidelines that fit a broad range of circumstances that leaders face. To me, the sustainability leadership concept is a move in the right direction. With a desire to provide hints, which allow practitioners to improve control mechanisms for different activities, the possibilities of applying sustainability leadership increase tremendously. In life, and mostly in my professional undertakings, I have relied on the belief that I am capable of fulfilling tasks at my job position, and that is why I got the position. However, I am now reflecting back on the experiences and realize that the assumption of being qualified could also contribute to my egocentric attitude (Lussier & Achu 2010).
In addition, based on the sustainability leadership concept, the view must have led to my misuse or disregard for a push and pull process in making decisions. I now see this as an avenue for improvement, where my aim should not be the need to compete with others, although that can help, to participate in joint intentions. The important realization is that everything is connected in a way and working holistically and at the same time being focused on a task is possible. First, I must realize that in groups, people will have different motivations and working goals, but a common goal can unite them, but this does not imply that they all abandon their personal goals (Carroll 1991). While reflecting on that, I see that I do not have to impose myself on others. Instead, I must take the initiative to build consensus on the aims and pathways so that as much as the people I lead will be pursuing diverse goals with different accomplishment timelines, we can contribute to a significant goal collectively. I see sustainability leadership as a program that will work well with my existing leadership quality as it refines rather than corrects or eliminates personal qualities. My step towards understanding the concept further will be enhanced by making decisions in formal and informal settings by relying on my knowledge of the infiniteness of interrelated networks.
Creating readiness for organizational change
When organizations are about to undergo change, members of the organization get ready for the eventuality. They can either resist change or support it. However, there is a moment when one contemplates the actual change before choosing to go with it or opposing it, which refers to readiness. This is a revelation, as I have previously taken on organizational change management as merely a matter of fighting resistance and promoting support for changes. Armenakis, Harris, and Mossholder (1993) described readiness along with the ordinary concepts of delivering change messages, which are attitudes, intentions, and beliefs. I find clarification on readiness for change, as an important thing for leaders, at any capacity, to internalize. Without the internalization, many people will succumb to the temptation of following policies or practices blindly, and not realize the cause of unwanted results during the change process. For example, I see many small business owners in my city taking up the recommendations from consultants to implement various changes, but even after they follow all the due processes and realize the change, their results are less than their anticipations. I see a connection between poor change results in organizations and the lack of internalizing the concepts of readiness.
The basis of readiness comes from the conclusions made by several scholars about the inclusion of employees in the change process as participants, especially in decision-making tasks. With the sense of belonging and importance, employees end up taking the change process as a personal initiative and commit to realizing its goal. Thus, employees would work out the shortcomings of the proposed amendment and alter it through suggestions, attitudes, and behaviors to make sure it aligns with their needs and outlook. At the same time, they will be changing their perception and thoughts on the change process.
I have been an employee-facing management change instructions. I remember being very bitter about the fact that I was so used to a routine and now had to change it because management was changing the main process that the business used. There was training for employees as part of the change, and looking at the reasons provided for the change, it all made sense. The new method was faster and easier, and training was required to facilitate the smooth operation of machines for the new business process. Nevertheless, I still felt a desire to resist and even tried to convince colleagues to oppose.
In retrospect, I see the incident as another version of the individual difference theory, whereas as an individual my response was diverging from the expectation because I did not recognize the change. Instead, I was acknowledging the lack of concern and appreciation that management was displaying. At the same time, my attempt to influence colleagues was a manifestation of the social differentiation theory where I was contributing to the subcultural group in the workplace to polarize the beliefs of members and affect their readiness (Chang & Chen 2011).
Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalence
Based on the review by Piderit (2000) on studies relating to resistance to change, I have come up with a number of insightful remarks on the subject of change management in organizations. The background description of the concept of resistance was an essential part in aiding me, as a reader, to understand the scope of studying resistance and to bridge the fundamental discussion on past resistance management strategies and present ones. In addition to discussing resistance as a feature of change management, I am also getting to understand resistance as a single concept and therefore relate to its diverse implications of specific actions and decisions taken by leaders and managers in the course of change management. Studying resistance as an independent concept makes one realize that it is sometimes mistaken for other behaviors and attitudes that employees may demonstrate (Dimba 2010).
I am prone to understanding reluctance or genuine delays as forms of resistance, but now I realize that they could be actions and thoughts that are unrelated to the desire to resist. Resistance can manifest as behavior, an emotion, or a belief, but it may also embody the three features to make it hard to understand or notice. When I am working as a manager, I have to supervise employees and issue instructions. I expect many of them to display some form of resistance, and hope that I have developed an adequate understanding of the concept to make me capable of acting in a proactive way to address root causes and provide a way forward. This implies that as a leader or manager, I will work with the beliefs, attitudes, and emotions of other employees. I am also aware of my limitations and environmental restrictions on the ability to analyze every situation and break down principal components to find individualized solutions. Based on this understanding, I am willing to embrace a multi-dimensional definition for describing employee attitudes when handling change (Piderit 2000).
When handling change processes, I have to be on the lookout for the ambivalence exhibited by employees. Reflecting on my experience, I understand that one can choose different ways to express support or dissatisfaction with change processes, but will prefer the most appropriate in terms of highlighting the reaction. Thus, by focusing on the existence of ambivalence in beliefs, emotions, or attitudes, I should be able to anticipate what employees will say or the way they will show resistance. Understanding this then helps me as a change manager to address the concerns using the relevant dimension of emotions, attitudes, and beliefs.
Eventually, I have to rely on trial and error while in professional practice to master the concept discussed so far, but the theoretical aspects have been instrumental in causing a paradigm shift in my outlook about organizational resistance and available options for management staffs in any organization (Cropanzano, Bowen & Gililand 2007).
Understanding the role of politics in successful project management
The report by Pinto (2000) is a build-up to the theories and concepts of understanding employee resistance. It presents the parameters followed by managers to complete projects successfully amid organizational politics. People are social beings, and they will exhibit social behavior when working in groups. The realization offered by Pinto (2000) concerning the tendency of knowledgeable personnel usage of power and political behavior to affect project implementation does not surprise me. Surprisingly, what comes is that there are numerous forms of positive political strategies aiding management in defeating resistance and handle compromises when implementing projects. The overall description of political behavior also introduces a new meaning to my understanding of politics. I now gather that, it is a process of seeking and maintaining power, and it has become prevalent in modern organizations. I see this as a direct consequence of the shift in organization practice and structure.
Many organizations are leaving the hierarchal structure in favor of a decentralized system and work accomplishment in teams. Individual workers are also expected to participate in groups when completing projects. With a pro-social structure of an organization, the rise of political influences and power-seeking attributes is understandable. Now that I have an understanding of the political nature of organizations, I am able to apportion relevant personal and organizational resources to sponsor practices and influence attitudes that allow management staff to operate efficiently at work. In an individual capacity, when acting as a manager, I will be looking for power structures that provide me with political legitimacy and allow me to influence other workers, using the right political tactics. My goal should be to keep power to its advantage in handling resistance and influencing change in the organization. A thorough grasp of politics awards me enough knowledge to expect and understand personal best-alternatives-to-negotiated-arrangement (BATNA) scenarios that individuals and departments within an organization will employ (Fulmer & Barry 2004).
Working as an influencer is very important for managers. If I am to accomplish assigned management tasks and an organization, then I will have not only to learn the art of influencing. Instead, I will also come up with practical ways of doing so. I am therefore taking it as a challenge to embrace any opportunity of becoming an influence and using it to hone my skills. However, influencing will be a smooth experience because it has to happen within the context of competing goals among individuals and departments in the organization. Thus, as Pinto (2000) explains, there is a need to recognize the persistent nature of conflict arising due to internal competition and the individualism existing in organizations. In this regard, my application of influencing tactics has to come holistically, embracing other skills and awareness so that I would not just react, and play a part in shaping the overall environment that different actors play within the organization. I am no longer looking at politics as a source of resistance, but a tool that will manifest various uses and an opportunity depends on the way a person handles it (Borkowski 2009).
Creating a climate and culture for sustainable organizational change
Organizations change because their external environments force them to adapt or perish. During the change process, their internal factors promote and resist change in different ways, depending on the underlying design of the organization and the suitability of the changes to particular interests within it. A common trait for many organizations is that changes are introduced with high expectations, and they align or interfere with people’s working climate in the organization. Schneider, Brief, and Guzzo (1996) promoted and discussed organizational climate to handle beliefs and in extension, the consequence that beliefs create among employees. In managing beliefs and creating an appropriate atmosphere, organizations must be cognizant of interpersonal relationships, hierarchies, work, support, and rewards as concepts and their varied nature in an organization, because they all play a role in instilling a particular organizational climate (Førde & Hansen 2014).
Going with the human potential philosophy, I can relate to my personal attitude and experiences towards organizational change and the varied scholarly literature on the same subject. With a realization that people desire growth and development, they value interpersonal interaction and need trust, support, and cooperation. I have come to appreciate the work designs and frameworks that allow employees to participate in the management process of organizations (Glaveli & Karassavidou 2011).
After recognizing the human nature of employees, I see the futility in trying to manage them as components of a machine, where one has to meet basic levels of performance and periodically advance to handle complex technologies. Instead, I am developing a new outlook of employees where the role of the organization is to provide enough resources and a mechanism to facilitate self-actualization in the context of realizing organizational performance goals. Employees have emotions, beliefs, and attitudes, and they will express or withhold themselves in different ways to influence their circumstances, choices, and opportunities. Thus, my work as a supervisor or manager is to find out the role of employee relationships in an organization in facilitating job performance (Gold, Thorpe & Mumford 2010). If there are elements of the relationship structure that are limiting the realization of organizational goals, such as hindrances to tacit information sharing, then I ought to initiate programs or discussions on changes in the present system, culture, or climate (Chiarello 2013).
The available frameworks for comprehensive management of the organization to realize well-functioning climates, cultures, and philosophies are available. It is upon managers to cultivate the tools to suit their organizations. As I am already familiar with the tools that include total quality management and balanced scorecard, my next improvement area is to implement any of the tools in an organization as a project leader and witness first-hand the associated gains and challenges. This will also provide me with adequate experience for boosting my knowledge of sustaining organizational change.
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