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Understanding Leadership & Change

Often times, those who are served by an organization have a sense of the change that they would like to see in the organization. And those that are involved in the actual operations of the organization develop a strategic view about where they want to see the organization. They all will have a sense of what the change might be and the impact they anticipate the change could have on the organization. However, the challenge lies in identifying, arranging, and implementing all of those things that will take the organization to a position or status that is envisioned by the team planning on the change.

Aligning the stars

The stars in organizational change are behavior and culture. Regardless of how strategically meaningful a change is to the organization, the process needs to start with ensuring that these two major phenomena are operationally aligned:

  • the behavior (i.e. the stakeholders’ inclination and actions to the organization’s purpose) and

  • culture (i.e. the way employees or members have been accustomed to doing things within the organization).

An organizational change needs to start taking place from within especially with the behaviors and the way people do things. Ingrained behaviors are reinforced by the culture coupled with how leaders behave.

Let the stars shine

When the behavior and culture ingrained within the organization are aligned, stakeholders including employees need to understand what new behaviors, actions, and culture are required of them. Such understanding can be forged from the beginning of the change development phase and will help shine light upon the uncertainty in the dark wherein employees are:

  • included within the process of devising the change or are given some heads-up of the change,

  • given awareness about what the change will look like,

  • what areas it will affect, and

  • how people are expected to handle the effect.

Leaders should lead the way

The next phase is where people must be given time to forge the inherent willingness for change. Forging the willingness to embrace the change is important because most change processes present new orders of things and alter how things had been done. People are more likely to be resistant to a change process if they don’t know what it is or are afraid of real or presumed ambiguities or uncertainties surrounding the change.

To forge an embrace of the change efforts and the change itself, the organization’s change agents must involve stakeholders in an honest engagement while at the same time framing the changes in a meaningful context. The context of change will nourish people’s willingness to adapt the change and create increased anticipation toward a desired result of the change.

Capability is also a factor because wanting to change is one thing and being able to do so is another. The capability could be the need to adapt different technical skills or an appropriate leadership orientation--including placement, replacement as well as capacity development.

Challenges to Today’s leaders

One of the duties that is common to all leaders is the responsibility to meet the goals of their organizations. The goals may range from upholding a temporary status quo, positioning the organization in its environment in a way that benefits stakeholders and service segments, or at least ensuring that the organization's obligations, funding relationship, and programs and services are effectively and satisfactorily rendered as possible. However, the challenge in meeting any of these goals differ depending on the size and scope of the organization but also depending on the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal landscape in which the organization operates:

  • Nonprofit organizations depend on donations from government, private donors, foundations as well as other nonprofit organizations with aligned missions. The funding requirements and political realities affect the expectations of the funding, and service offerings.

In this regards, the challenge for leaders lies in shifting and continuously changing the ways services are provided in order to remain in compliance with industry and funding source standards, and true to its service beneficiaries.
  • Another challenge to leaders can be directly attributable to the continuous needs for expansions in the organization’s sphere of activity. The challenge is mainly born out of competition to the very existence of the organization’s program and services as well as funding lifeline of the organization.

  • Globalization brings along its own challenge to leaders especially because globalization encourages competition since it opens the organization's eye to expand and see things different from both local and international perspectives.

Given the nature of globalization, it has become increasingly critical for leaders to understand their organization’s competitive advantage, and decipher such understanding into a strategy that integrates the competitive landscape.
  • A critical challenge to leaders also is the increased need for professional development and the need to stay on top of all of those things that the organization is doing and is good at. This is particularly important because organizations always want to change in order to match the increasing competition or needs of the community in its sphere of operations.

The leader’s knowledge of one service area may change repeatedly overtime and the leader will need to be knowledgeable of the change in order to not only manage efficiently but to also be able to integrate such knowledge relevant to implementing the appropriate strategy to remain competitive and achieve advantages.

Most leaders also experience challenge with competition from within their own organizations when different departments of the organization are rendering services that appear to naturally compete or through battling for funding based upon individual departmental success.

Part of the challenge with this is for leaders to understand prevailing competitive strategies and align them with their perceived strategic advantage to attain competitiveness.
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