Change Leadership Research: Leading Change can Change Leaders Use Them, Love Them or Lose Them
Introduction to the Three Studies
Organizations often hire executives experienced with large scale change from outside as fulltime employees to access know-how and know-who, and build the firm’s change capacity.There can be a mutual desire for the leader to remain post the change initiative, but in practice many Outsiders do not become Insiders despite successful project outcome, and instead leave the firm.What are companies to do? This three part research study was to investigate why this was so, with a special interest in the role of social capital and how/if the leader balances organizational and his personal career commitments.
Change Leader Career Development: The Leveraging of Social Networks in Planned Organizational Change
This conceptual study is the foundation for the next two phases.It explores the extent to which a change leader is embedded in and leverages internal and external social networks to contribute to favorable project outcome, thus influencing his or her career development upon completion of the change initiative.Social networks are the informal structure of relationships among people in organizations that provide invaluable resources – access to timely, high quality information, power and influence, and trust between individuals and groups.These resources are critical for a leader to pull or enable change vs. push or command change.
Change Leader Career Development: The Interplay of Social Capital, Sponsorship, and Self-Identity during Planned Organizational Change
We interviewed 30 executive leaders from diverse manufacturing companies, leaders who had championed 42 transformational change projects as either Insiders or Outsiders. The analysis revealed a topology of traits that distinguish a change leader from conventional functional discipline or program/general management leaders.Not just the development and leveraging of social networks, but broader social capital – networks, trust, norms and shared history – set successful change leaders apart.For many Outsiders and Insiders, a shift in self identity from leader to change leader unfolded in the course of leading planned organizational change.Leading change can change leaders.
Change Leader Retention: Social Capital, Organizational Commitment, and Balancing Change Career Commitment
We surveyed over 600 executive leaders of transformational change to quantitatively identify mechanisms which may influence whether they can balance the potentially competing commitment of a career in leading change with a commitment to an organization, therein affecting an opportunity to retain them longer term.We further explored the role of bonding social capital in planned organizational change.This study surfaced again how Insiders and Outsiders are different.Organizations who hire Outsiders to lead change are advised to continue to “use them, love them or lose them” as leaders of challenging change initiatives in order to retain them and build the firm’s change capacity.Their commitment to being a change leader appears to outweigh a desire to become committed to the organization.