Leadership defines the performance of any sector of the society. The education system is one of the areas that value leaders’ the input. One major function of leadership is to bring change. According to Wagner and Kegan (2006), effective leaders are proactive in leading change. Leaders should be able to work with the relevant stakeholders in their area of leadership to ensure that they share the vision they have formulated. The leader should also be able to articulate the desired change in an organization. Stakeholders need to support the construction of the visions and/or changes that are necessary for an organization. This paper attempts to define the process of change in an effort to show how it can be nurtured in a school or organizational setting. It presents the existing concepts on leadership and the possible new ideas on the same. The paper also evaluates the existing scholarly articles on leadership and change.
Nurturing Change in an Educational Setting
The education sector requires effective leadership whose primary purpose is to institute and nurture change. Change is not a new concept in the education sector. Change can be demonstrated by the numerous reforms that were taking place in the 1980s in the United States (Waks, 2007). Such transformations were also happening in other countries that were industrialized at the time (Waks, 2007). The changes brought about different results in the education system of the concerned countries, with the main level of institution that experienced this change being the higher institutions of learning that were charged with the development of the changes.
While initiating a change, several distinct processes should be followed for better results based on the findings of researchers and scholars in this field. The first concept is that the leader needs to create a vision of the institution where the change will occur (Wagner & Kegan, 2006). The development of this vision needs to involve all stakeholders in the institution. This means that leaders should seek the opinion of various stakeholders on the different things that they want to see changing in the institution (Rokeach, 1968).
The second part of a change in the institution is the establishment of the necessary changes and the areas that need modification. This step should also be a consultative process. In an underperforming institution, the leader may set up a team to establish the main reasons for the observed performance. He or she should then target the pinpointed areas that need improvement. One of the best methods of establishing the areas that require change in an organization or institutional setting is carrying out a survey (Wagner & Kegan, 2006) where the key stakeholders get a chance to suggest any areas of improvement.
After the areas that need change are established with the help of the various stakeholders, the next step is to ensure that the leader comes up with suggestions for the necessary changes. This part can be said to be the conversion of visions into ideas. Visions are converted into agendas that are easy to follow. This process should also be inclusive of all the stakeholders since they need to own the final changes that will be instituted. According to Wagner and Kegan (2006), any change is invalid if it does not receive the support of the people that it is intended to affect.
Communication is also vital in the change process. It should be employed at each stage. Leaders in the educational institutions need to have the necessary communication skills to ensure that stakeholders are aware of the likely changes in their institutions. Some communication tools that leaders need to use to ensure that other stakeholders are briefed include memos and meetings that are meant to discuss the changes. Formal communication should be combined with other forms of communication to ensure a successful process (Ambrose, 2004).
Leaders have to provide a climate that is favorable to the changes that they intend to make. According to Ambrose (2004), a problem-solving climate is one of them. It is easier to initiate changes and maintain them if the organization or institution has a climate that favors change. After the leadership translates the visions of change into agendas and/or communicates them to the relevant stakeholders, they (stakeholders) should ensure that the institution is welcoming to the changes.
Resistance often accompanies initiation of changes from several quarters irrespective of the steps taken to prevent it (Ambrose, 2004). This case is attributable to the differences that exist between individuals. Therefore, leaders should be persistent in the change process to ensure that the changes they put in place are effective. Persistence in change may be accomplished through several ways, including the provision of methods that are aimed at nurturing the change.
Another concept of leadership and change is that a leader should have a problem-solving orientation. According to Ambrose (2004), this claim means that leaders should not blame individuals, systems, or other processes in the organization. Rather, they should fix the systems that are observed to be faulty. A common observation in the education system is when leaders target individuals in the change process and blaming them for any inefficiencies in place. It is imperative to focus change of systems on the institution rather than the individuals.
Apart from the change culture that is necessary for organizations that wish to change, another basic component is that leaders need to create a learning environment (Ambrose, 2004). This means that leaders should consistently pass information to the relevant stakeholders in the system. They should also listen carefully to the sentiments from various sections of the organization in an effort to act on the information. Changes in an institution or organization need to be structured on the different needs of the organization.
Marsee (2002) reveals some of the steps that are necessary for implementing change in the organizational setting. These steps may also be applied in learning institutions. Marsee (2002) says that leaders need to align their style of leadership with the existing culture in their organization. He establishes that most organizations are resistant to change since it (change) is associated with uncertainty, culture alarms, and stress in the organizational atmosphere (Marsee, 2002). Therefore, leaders should adapt their organizations to the changes that are likely to take place.
Another concept that emerges is that of change missionaries who oversee the changes. According to Marsee (2002), these change missionaries should not be overused in the change process. Marsee (2002) also proposes the protection of people who believe in the changes that are to be initiated in institutions. He refers these individuals as change agents. These individuals need to be protected since the changes are likely to succeed in the organizations or institutions.
Any change process is likely to have opposition or other forms of challenges that hinder its implementation. These obstacles should not affect the change process. Leaders who are tasked with the change process need to maintain focus on the project. This step involves monitoring the indicators of a drifting project and instituting measures to control such drifts (Marsee, 2002). According to Marsee (2002), an effective way of reducing the drifts and opposition in the change process is to ensure that the leadership identifies and removes possible barriers to the change process before it begins.
Leadership should be consultative and inclusive. During the change process, leaders should ensure that they assign responsibilities to different individuals in the change process. The individuals who are tasked with the change process should then be empowered to perform different functions pertaining to the change development (Marsee, 2002). Time is another important factor in the change process. While developing the vision that is necessary to achieve in this process, leaders should factor in the time that is necessary to accomplish the various parts of the change process (Wagner & Kegan, 2006). Marsee (2002) confirms that leaders should create a sense of urgency in the change process to ensure that the change occurs within the relevant time.
Change is an important part of any institution or organization. It should be carried out in a favorable and result-oriented process. This essay has stated some of the important concepts that any leader should consider while implementing and persuading other stakeholders to follow him or her.
Ambrose, R. (2004). Initiating Change in Prospective Elementary School Teachers’ Orientations to Mathematics Teaching by Building on Beliefs. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7(1), 91–119.
Marsee, J. (2002). 10 Steps for Implementing Change. New York, NY: NACUBO Business Officer.
Rokeach, M. (1968). Beliefs, attitudes, and values: A theory of organization and change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Wagner, T., & Kegan, R. (2006). Change leadership: A practical guide to transforming our schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Waks, L. (2007). The Concept of Fundamental Educational Change. Educational Theory j, 57(3), 277-295.