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Nikole Pagan PA 720, Managing Organizational Behavior Spring 2008 Dr.

Carol Edlund

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Review of The Leadership Challenge A Call for the Transformational Leader By Noel M. Tichy and David O. Ulrich.
In their article The Leadership Challenge A Call for the Transformational Leader, Noel M. Tichy and David O. Ulrich seek to define a new brand of leadership consistent with the changing nature of the US Economy and world market. They seek to define the qualities of a transformational leader and delineate the organizational dynamics of change a leader must manage, in terms of structure, culture and the individuals that make up an organization. The following discussion provides an over-view of Tichy and Ulrichs main points, questions the outcomes of transformational leadership, and compares and contrasts a transformational leader with the concept of level 5 leadership. Tichy and Ulrich argue that the changing nature of the US economy in the early 1980s was driving the need to revise organizational culture to ensure that US companies remained competitive in the world market. To navigate this cultural shift, Tichy and Ulrich call for a new breed of leaders who can help an organization develop a new vision, gather support and buy-in from stakeholders, guide the organization through a transformative phase and possess the capacity to institutionalize changes over time. (1984) These leaders are called transformational leaders because they create something new from something old. Whereas a transactional manager might make adjustments to the organizational tri-pod of mission, structure and human resources, a transformational leader goes beyond, bringing about fundamental changes in the organizations basic political and cultural systems. It is the latter that sets transformational leaders apart from transactional managers. Tichy and Ulrich begin to develop their argument by presenting Lee Iacocca, former CEO of the Chrysler Corporation as a case study in transformational leadership. Starting in the late 1970s, Iacocca

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provided the leadership to transform a company from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability (Tichy * Ulrich, p. 65). He revamped internal politics and systems, changed management structure, trimmed tens of thousands of employees, won concessions from the UAW, and translated the loser stigma of a government bail-out into a positive cultural shift. Beyond the description of a transformational leader, Tichy and Ulrich delineate the organizational dynamics of change, based on a number of assumptions. The first assumption is that a trigger event indicates that change is needed, for Chrysler, the trigger was impending bankruptcy. The second assumption is that change unleashes mixed feelings a positive impetus for change as well as strong, negative resistance from individuals and the organization. Resistance can come from 3 areas: Technical systems, Political Systems and Cultural Systems. Technical systems resistance includes task-based habit and inertia, fear of change, loss of sunk costs. Political systems resistance can come from internal coalitions against change, limitations on resource availability, and the idea that admitting that change is necessary is an indictment on past leadership. Cultural systems resistance includes the perception that an organization is one thing, and cannot be another, that the past holds security, and that current organizational culture makes change difficult. The third and fourth assumptions of organizational change are closely tied together. The third assumption is that a quick-fix cannot work, and a transformational leader is needed. The fourth assumption takes the third to a deeper level, suggesting transformational Leadership is the key to revitalization. In order to revitalize an organization, a transformational leader must create a new vision, mobilize commitment to that vision, and institutionalize these changes in part by assessing and revamping organizational culture. Finally, Tichy and Ulrich define the individual dynamics of change a transformational leader must understand and manage. They suggest change for individuals is a three-phase process: Endings, Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings. Endings need to be accepted and understood by individuals, allowing them to

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disengage, disidentify, disenchant, and disorient with past practices and find a new sense of value and worth in an organization. (pg. 71) transformational leaders guide employees through this process by replacing past achievements with future opportunities for glory. In the Neutral Zone, individuals feel disconnected from the past and remain emotionally unconnected from the future. Tichy and Ulrich characterize the Neutral Zone as the phase in which individuals reorient toward the new and the future. A transformational leader guides this reorientation by asking, and empowering individuals to ask, What went wrong?, why do we need to change?, and what must be overcome in both attitude and behavior? In the final phase of individual change, the New Beginnings, employees begin to learn from the past, rather than dwell in it, look for new ways to interact that are not consistent with old scripts, and become excited about future possibilities. When this has happened, the Transformational leader has been successful. I think Tichy and Ulrichs argument is compelling. They were living in a time of shifting world norms and values, often shaped by innovations in technology. 20 years later, we are living in an increasingly changing world. I believe the need for leaders to do more than manage is still prevalent. My main critique of the article is that Ulrich and Tichy do not address the question what happens when a transformational leader leaves an organization? This question is important to me because it parallels a concept discussed in a number of my nonprofit classes Founders Syndrome. The organizations I seek to work for LGBT rights and youth organizations tend to be new, founded and run on the strength and vision of a charismatic leader who bears strong resemblance to a transformational leader, but instead of creating something new out of something old, created something new out of something that wasnt there before. Founders Syndrome occurs when an organization operates primarily according to the personality of a prominent person in the organization, for example, the founder, board chair/president, chief executive, etc.

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Written before Iacocca left Chrysler, the article doesnt address how Chrysler faltered without Iacoccas leadership, and how his ego may have prevented him from establishing a strong successor. He stayed with Chrysler beyond three planned retirements, starred in over 80 television commercials for the company, and moved the company forward based on personal charisma and ego. Throughout his tenure, Iacocca remained a strong, transformational leader. 5 years after Iacocca retired, Chrysler experienced crisis again, and was bought out by German manufacturer Daimler-Benz. It seems to me that leadership should also entail the foresight, and humility, to set the organization up for success beyond the transformational leader or else, whats the point? For my nonprofit management class, I read a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins. Collins presents a model of leadership, called a Level 5 leader, which I find inspiring. A level 5 leader bears a striking resemblance to a transformational leader; both a transformational leader and level 5 leader guide their organizations through change. Both make adjustments organizational systems and structure; both go beyond, and create fundamental changes in the organizations basic political and cultural systems. The difference between a transformational leader as defined by Ulrich and Tichy and embodied by Lee Iacocca, and Collins level 5 leader is ego, or lack thereof. (Collins, 2001; Tichy & Ulrich, 1984) Collins discusses Lee Iacocca, as well, but Iacocca is not one of Collins level 5 leaders. I find myself more attracted to the concept of Level 5 leadership than transformational leadership because it embodies the qualities of leadership I strive for in my professional life and academic life. I see Level 5 leadership in my organization, and from the executive director of the nonprofit on whose board I serve, as well as from some of the MPA faculty at San Francisco State. Level 5 leaders are humble and unpretentious; they often credit luck or others for their accomplishments, while transformational leaders are seen to create their own luck. (Collins, 2001; Tichy & Ulrich, 1984) Level 5 leaders are mild-mannered and shy, and they should not want to receive any public acknowledgement for their greatness. Transformational leaders such as those embodied by Iacocca seek

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the limelight, a trait which Tichy and Ulrich herald as one of the important missing elements in other types of leadership. Combining personal humility and professional will, level 5 leaders push themselves to do whatever it takes to produce great results for their organization and they pursue successors that will continue on in their success. They possess many of the same qualities as a transformational leader, without the over-inflated ego that causes an organization to falter when the charismatic transformational leader is gone and a leadership vacuum remains. The foregoing discussion highlights the main points of Tichy & Ulrichs argument and queries the outcomes of transformational leadership. By comparing and contrasting a transformational leader with the concept of level 5 leadership, I have arrived at the conclusion that it seems hard to deny that both types of leaders are exceptional and possess something unique. Transformational leaders define public values that embrace the highest and enduring principles of a group of people in order to transform organizational culture. Level 5 leaders build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will (p. 20). Despite the differences in the above statements, level 5 leaders and transformational leaders both focus on the collective organization, or group of people. Moreover, these exceptional and committed leaders possess unique personal values that empower others to transform organizations, from the old, or from something that never existed.

Works Cited Collins, Jim. Good to Great. Harper, Collins, New York, NY. 2001. Tichy, N.M., & Ulrich, D.O The Leadership Challenge A Call for the Transformational Leader (1984) in Classical Readings of Organizational Behavior, edited by Ott, Parkes, & Simpson. Thomson-Wadsworth, Belmont, CA, 2008.

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