Characteristics and the model of change leader

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Throughout the years, it is noticeable that more and more researchers have been preoccupied with 'leading change' (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell, 2003; Herold and Fedor, 2008; Kotter, 1996; Mendez- Morse, 1992). Besides, it is observed that during the last decade a lot of researchers have shown a trend to research issues which are associated with 'leading change'. It is increasingly recognised that the pressure for changes in today's world are formidable (Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991; Herold and Fedor, 2008; MacBeath, 1998; Pandey, 2007; Podakoff et al., 1990:112 cited in Leithwood et al., 1999: 58). Furthermore, according to Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991); Kotter (1996) and Pandey (2007) the amount of significant change has grown exceedingly over the past two decades.

Additionally, there is no doubt that all organisations need to adapt in the recent in order to survive (Herold and Fedor, 2008). To accomplishing that changes must be occur (Bridges and Mitchell, 2002; Herold and Fedor, 2008). Numerous researchers highlight the difficulty to change and that there are a lot of barriers for changing (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell, 2003; Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979; Kotter, 1996; Mendez- Morse, 1992). Many people will resist change. Sometimes those fears are well founded but at the end people understand that the change was for the better (Wallace, 2007).

What is more, according to Caldwell (2003), over the last two decades, the role and significant of 'change leader' has become a subject of huge interest. Based on literature review, except from organisation changes, educational changes arise as well (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks, 1992; to Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991; Leithwood et al., 1999; Murphy, 1990 cited in Caldwell and Spinks, 1992: 59).

This essay, initially, will present what is 'change leader'. Then, it will mention the characteristics and the model of 'change leader'. Next, it will talk about the steps of successful 'leading change' and the barriers of 'leading change'. Finally, it will point out how the 'leading change' can affect positive to school.


2.1 Definition of 'Change Leader'

Several definitions of 'change leader' have been proposed in the field of education (Rycroft-Malone et al., 2002). A 'change leader' is a person who introduces the change in terms of new practices and ensures that change will yield effectively results (Krishnan, 2007).

According to Caldwell (2003: 139-140):

Change leader is an internal or external individual or team responsible for initiating, sponsoring, directing, managing or implementing a specific change initiative, project or complete change programme.

'Change leader' is the principal who responds to the human as well as the task aspects of their schools (Hallinger, 2003; Mendez-Morse, 1992; Paglis and Green, 2002). Also, according to Caldwell (2003: 139) 'change leader is a complex theoretical and practical task'. Generally speaking, 'change leader' identify the changes, orchestrate people with that future vision and motivates them in order to make the vision happen despite the obstacles (Attwood et al., 2003; Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991; Hamel, 2001; Herold and Fedor, 2008; Kotter, 1996; MacBeath, 1998; Paglis and Green, 2002). Additionally, as Maxwell (1995) notes 'change leader' is who uses the last successes and continue to the future changes. What is more, the role of 'change leader' is to provide direction, to motivate followers to endeavour to the effort necessary to achieve organisational objectives, and to support such efforts (Herold and Fedor, 2008; MacBeath, 1998; Paglis and Green, 2002). 'Change leader' is a person who introduced the change in terms of new practices (Krishnan, 2007).

According to Fullan (2001) effective 'change leader' is who combine intellectual brilliance with emotional intelligence. Furthermore, according to Foil et al. (1999:461):

Effective 'change leader' bring about a new set of social and personal value combinations by first reducing the strength of a current value through neutralizing follower ties to the value. They then move the value through a process of negating both the social and personal values. Finally, they solidify the links between their innovative vision and the values of their followers by substituting the negated social value with a positive value.

Finally, Caldwell (2003) talk about the new 'change leader'. Specifically, he suggests that the new 'change leader' take into account the characteristics of leadership and the behaviour with stress on the relationship between leaders and followers.

2.2 Characteristics of 'Change Leader'

Several studies have been carried out concerning the characteristics of 'change leader'. In particular, Mendez- Morse (1992) states six characteristics for a change leader. As concerned the first characteristic, she states that leaders of educational change have vision. Leaders of change are visionary leaders and vision is the basis of their work. Change leaders know very well what they want to accomplish (MacBeath, 1998; Mendez- Morse; 1992). They have the ability to motivate and encourage others to participate in determining and developing a shared vision (Herold and Fedor, 2008; Krishnan, 2007; Mendez- Morse, 1992; Paglis and Green, 2002). Finally, their vision provides guidance and direction for the school staff, students and educators (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks (1992); Caldwell, 2003; Herold and Fedor, 2008; Leithwood et al., 1999; Mendez- Morse, 1992). As a result of this, it is underlined the collaborative relationships. The second characteristic is the believing that schools are for students' learning. The relation among leaders' values or beliefs and their vision is significant. Effective 'change leaders' tend to believe that the purpose of school is to meet the needs of all students (Attwood et al., 2003; Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991; Mendez- Morse, 1992).

Valuing human resources is another characteristic of change leader. Change leader recognize that people are its greatest resource. They trust the strengths of others and value their efforts (Herold and Fedor, 2008; Mendez- Morse, 1992). Moreover, they estimate the efforts of co-workers and they develop the collaboration sense. The forth characteristic is communicator and listener. They are open-minded and they have communicating and listening skills. Leaders of change have the ability to discuss with their staff and to share ideas in order to succeed the best results (Attwood et al., 2003; MacBeath, 1998; Mendez- Morse (1992). Also, they are proactive because they challenge the status quo of their organisation (Herold and Fedor, 2008; Mendez- Morse, 1992; Paglis and Green, 2002). Change leaders recognize paradigm shifts in areas. Finally, the last characteristic of change leaders is that they are risk-takers. Change leaders take risks but not thoughtlessly or without foresight (Mendez- Morse, 1992; Paglis and Green, 2002).

As Cohen (2006 cited in Krishnan, 2007: 45) declares that some of the basic characteristics of change agents are 'courage to make the change, flexibility to adapt as the change, ability to welcome resistance, respectful treatment of staff, willingness to learn, humour as you go through change, humility to accept when things are not going well, and critical thinking to recognize when things are not working'. Moreover, passion and organising are supplementary characteristics for an effective 'change leader' (Kanter, 2007).

2.3 Models of 'Change Leader'

Various models and theories are proposed by researchers for effective 'change leader' (Mishra, 2007; Pandey, 2007). Higgs and Rowland (2005 cited in Pandey, 2007: 18) come across two predominant types of models. On the basic assumption, change models can be out on a continuum. . One end of the continuum represents deterministic models in which change is considered as predictable phenomenon. Ontologically organizational change is considered to be step by step process which can be designed and consciously implemented by the leaders.

Based on a literature review, Caldwell (2003) defined four models of 'change leader', leadership models, management models, consultancy models and team models. As concerned the leadership models, change leaders are defined as leader or senior and instruct the strategic change (Caldwell and Spinks, 1992; Caldwell, 2003; Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991; MacBeath, 1998). In management models belong the change leaders who carry forward or built support for strategic change (Caldwell, 2003; Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991). Regarding the consultancy models, they are used as consultants and are specialised to provide advices, change program coordination and process skills (Caldwell, 2003; MacBeath, 1998). The last model, team models, they are conceived as teams and include functional specialists and employees at all level (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks, 1992; Caldwell, 2003).

Wallace (2007) mentions some change models which have some similarities from the above. The first model of 'leading change' is the consultative. The target population is informed about the changes and provides consultations and recommendations. As we can notice this model is coincide with the third model of Caldwell (2003). The second model, according to Wallace (2007) is the collaborative where the target population are engaged in the change process toughing meetings. This model reminds us the forth model of Caldwell (2003) which is associated with the groups. Directive and coercive are the other model of Wallace (2007). Here, 'change leader' inform why those change are important and told that they are must obey the new instructions respectively.

2.4 Steps for successful 'Leading Change'

It is noticeable that many researchers try to present the steps or the stages for a successful 'leading change'. As pointed out by Kotter (1996: 20), there are eight steps for 'leading change' in order to change to be more effectively. Firstly, 'change leaders' should establish a sense of urgency. In other word, they must examine the market and identify major opportunities (Kotter, 1996; Krishnan, 2007; MacBeath, 1998). Then, they must form a guiding coalition. In this stage, 'leader changes' create group with enough power so as to work like a team (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks, 1992; Kotter, 1996). After that they must develop a vision and strategy. They create a vision and expand techniques for accomplishing that vision (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks (1992); Caldwell, 2003; Herold and Fedor, 2008; Kotter, 1996; Leithwood et al., 1999; Mendez- Morse, 1992). The next step is when 'change leader' communicates the change vision and using every tool possible to communicate the new vision and techniques (Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991; Kotter, 1996). The fifth stage is empowering board-based action where they give confidence risk taking and authorizes others to act on the vision (Kotter, 1996; Mendez- Morse, 1992; Paglis and Green, 2002). Then, additional step is the plan for and creating short-term wins. Here, they reward people who made the wins possible. In the seventh stage, they consolidate gains and produce more change. At the last step, "change leader" institutionalise new approaches in the culture.

2.5 Barriers of 'leading change'

By definition, people are affected by change and a few will comfortably accommodate any degree of change (Wallace, 2007). It is undoubtedly true that there is a huge portion of people do not like changes (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell, 2003; Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979; Kotter, 1996; Mendez- Morse, 1992). Also, almost all people are nervous about change (Wallace, 2007). This happens independent from the fact that these changes will be may affected them positive. As a result of this, a 'change leader' has to be aware for the most common reasons people resist change (Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979).

On the one hand, Post and Altma (1994), thought an extensive review from published and unpublished case studies, conclude to the result that there are two basic types of barriers: industry barriers and organisational barriers. Regarding the first type of barriers, they assert that this type of barrier reflect the special and unique features of the business activity. In contrast, the second type of barrier is not unique to environmental change but deal with any form of change. Industry barriers include technical information, competitive pressure and industry regulation but organisational barriers include factors such as communication and employee attitudes.

On the other hand, Bjork (2004) and Ertmer (1999) have engaged with the barriers which are associated with educational issues and especially with the reaction of the teachers to the technology. They assume that several barriers are connected with open access and generally with the technology. In particular, Ertmer (1999), through literature review, identifies two types of barriers, which are related with technology and teachers: the first-order barriers and the second-order barriers. The first-order barriers mention to those fences that are extrinsic to employers (or teachers) such as equipment, time, training and support. The second-order barriers are correlated with the beliefs and the values of employers (or teachers) and this type of barriers cause more difficulties than the first- order barriers.

The fear of losing control and the lack of last success to the widespread adoption of whole systems approaches are vital reasons why there are barriers to 'leading change' (Attwood et al., 2003; Fullan, 2001). Moreover, the social psychological fear of change, and the lack of technical know how or skills to make the change work are additional obstacles for 'leading change' (Fullan, 2001).

2.6 Leading Change and School Improvement/ School Effectiveness

It is widely believed and also supported that changes happen every minute. As a result of this, it has been changes in education as well. According to Caldwell and Spinks (1992) and Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991), the scope and pace of change in education at the start of the 1990s are nothing short of overwhelming. Moreover, effective leadership in a time of change is a bold title (MacBeath, 1998).

According to Sammons et al., (1995 cited in MacBeath, 1998:140) the two words 'effective' and 'leadership' signified the growing emphasis in school outcomes measures and the growing acceptance of leadership as a key constituent in the effective school.

Caldwell (2003) states that, leadership support the change but without the ability to create vision, change would simply fail. On the other hand, Attwood et al. (2003); Caldwell and Spinks (1992); Leithwood et al. (1999) underline that the shared decision making and teacher professionalization are key elements for school changes. Precisely, they assert that leadership change have direct effects on students. Also, they emphasize that a good leading change can move to school improvement and school effectiveness only if teachers take into account the followings: the mission and vision of school, the planning processes, culture, shared decision making, policies and procedures and school- community relations. Particularly, they state that 'change leader' must utilise and develop the capabilities of other players in the system.

Caldwell and Spinks (1992) agree with the afore-mentioned adding some extra elements concerning the leading change and school improvement and effectiveness. Particularly, they say that principals must have the capability to work with others in the school community regard to build a vision for the school. This vision must be communicated in a way which ensures commitment among staff, students and parents. This statement enhances by Attwood et al. (2003) who assert that leaders must be able to inspire the effective participation of their staff. Also, change leader should have team spirit and should shared decision-making (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks, 1992). In addition, 'change leader' should take into consideration the context for education changes, the curriculum of school and the community which are connected with the school (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks, 1992; Herold and Fedor, 2008).

In a general framework, Murphy (1990 cited in Caldwell and Spinks, 1992: 59) concentrates the main elements for describing the 'change leader' in school improvement. Consistent with this framework, if 'change leaders' want to accomplish the school improvement should formulate mission and goals of the school. Also, they must promote quality teaching and monitor student learning. Moreover, they have to establish positive expectations and provide incentives for teachers and students. Finally, they should create a safe learning environment, secure outside resources in support of schools goal and forge links among home and school.

Edmonds (1979) is another research who emphasizes that an effective school dependent by the principals. Particularly, he focuses on five factors describing an effective school. These factors are (a) strong leadership of the principal, (b) emphasis on mastery of basic skills, (c) a clean, orderly and secure school environment, (d) high teacher expectations of pupil performance, and (e) frequent monitoring of students to assess their progress.


As reported in the above paragraphs, it is noteworthy that change is an imperative needs and it is ensues anywhere and at any time change (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell, 2003; Herold and Fedor, 2008; Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979; Kotter, 1996; Leithwood et al., 1999; Mendez- Morse, 1992). The issues is that the pressure for change are real and it must be taken into account what to change, how to change it and when to change it (Herold and Fedor, 2008; Rycroft-Malone et al., 2002).

Attwood et al., 2003 underscore that 'leading change' look for to improve its contribution to the system. It requires more effort to assist people to understand the complexity and rapidly change. It requires leaders to put in place processes that can help people to learn and work together to improve the system of which they are a part. Briefly, according to Herold and Fedor (2008) an effective 'change leader' must know what they think they want or need to change, what they know about themselves and the others who will be asked to lead and make the behavioural adjustments implied by the change and what they know about the context in which the change is to occur. Additionally, according to MacBeath (1998), an effective school is a school that can make a difference to student achievements.

Moreover, it can be assumed that the majority of the researchers are directed to the same characteristics of 'change leader'. Thus, it is noticeable that most researchers delineate the characteristics of 'change leader' to their vision (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks (1992); Caldwell, 2003; Herold and Fedor, 2008; Leithwood et al., 1999; Mendez- Morse, 1992). Additionally, after the overview of bibliography a number of researchers assert that setting purpose, using shared decision- making, increasing positive environment and taking risks are some elements successful 'leading change' in organisations and in school too (Attwood et al., 2003; Caldwell and Spinks, 1992; Herold and Fedor, 2008; Leithwood et al., 1999; Mendez- Morse, 1992; Paglis and Green, 2002).

On the other hand, according to MacBeath (1998) there is no one package for school leadership, no one model to be learned. The statement is amplified by Fullan (2001) who say that there is not a recipe or cookbook for effectiveness change. And hence, different change leaders have different abilities with which to develop and implement changes (Harmel et al., 1995).

As we can observe, to be 'effective change leader' is not an easy task. 'Change leader' has deal with a lot of barriers and fences. As a result of this, 'change leaders' should take into account all the possible obstacles and they should be willing to cope with them.