Cognitive psychology as a factor in tranformational change management


For the last 15 years I have been working with restructuring, change management, continuous improvement with various organizations. I am more and more sure that knowledge of cognitive psychology is something that should be emphasized within the field of management.

Often we see that all kinds of measures within restructuring, change management, continuous improvement provides a small effect for a little while. It is often difficult to generate sustained improvement overtime. Personally, I believe that Lean management is the best way to generate sustained improvement. Unfortunately, Lean also have weaknesses.
Having worked within specialist health services in the past two years and seen how one uses cognitive psychology to treat patients within vocational rehabilitation with long-term success, I am sure that psychology must be given more focus in restructuring, change management, continuous improvement.

Today, the struggle for the right employees is important. Here comes the manager’s ability to create motivation and inspiration as an important factor. Transformational leadership involves doing the right things, as opposed to transactional leadership, which consists in making things right.

Leadership is about power and influence, but also on care and good communication. Perhaps it is precisely this, that leadership includes many of the core of human interaction, which means that many are fascinated by the management process. Historically, various aspects of management have been highlighted. Leader Theories have increasingly emphasized the leader’s role as inspirer of the organization, because the relationship between manager and employee is so important. This article presents leader theories about inspiration, with particular emphasis on the theory of transformational leadership, which revolves around management in the form of inspiration to change.

Today’s society is characterized by constant changes. Autonomous workers must be flexible, adaptable and able to make their own decisions. Knowledge and learning are essential in the workplace, and management means thereby to guide and develop other than to exercise detailed control. Today all management is no longer just about control and management, but about being able to live with uncertainty, paradoxes and ambiguities and master symbolic expressions of legitimate power.

Management Field is a wide interest with many approaches to knowledge management and management process. The word leadership was taken from everyday language and continued technical language, without being precisely redefined. There are many definitions of the term, but four themes often go again: that leadership is a process, consists in influencing others, takes place in a group context and involves achievement.

Two such definitions are “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” and “Management is to articulate visions, possessing values and create the environment where things can be achieved.” While the first definition focuses on management and achievement, showing the other contents of the management process, where management consists in adding conditions to enable others to develop. Transformational leadership is about “appeals to employees ‘moral values in an effort to increase their awareness of ethical issues, and to mobilize employees’ energy and resources to change the organizations they belong to.” Transformational leadership means that the leader changes and motivate employees by 1) making them more aware of the consequences of tasks, 2) get them to go beyond self-interest for the common fault and 3) enable higher-order needs of employees.

Leadership – inspiration for change
The theory of transformational leadership emphasizes values and vision and are characterized by four key aspects: The leader has charisma and acting as a good role model, leader motivates through inspiration and visionary, leader encourages the organization’s members question the status quo and challenge to innovate and the manager shows concern for each individual’s unique needs.

Leadership Theories that just accentuates inspirational leadership, has become increasingly popular in organizational psychological research in recent decades. Also practice field has increasingly used findings about inspiring leadership in such leadership development. To clarify what various theories have focused on leadership research into 1) pull approach, 2) behavioral approach, 3) power approach, 4) situation approach and 5) integrative approaches. The theory of transformational leadership goes basically under the last group, which draws with the aspects of the earlier theories, such as what is good leadership skills (drawing) and what the leader does (behavior). Former leadership models differed between safeguarding Structure (task orientation) or people (relational orientation) as key dimensions in leadership behavior. One can thus see an evolution from safeguarding people / relational orientation to transformational leadership. Anyway involves transformational leadership more than supportive leadership. The manager is a central and visible and inspires to strive for very high goals, while employees’ needs placed in the center.
The ability to change is essential in today’s knowledge society, and leaders who create and applauds changes are important workplace today. I therefore believe that cognitive models used to change the mindset of patients can also be used in business within change management. Leader theories concerning inspiration for change, called theories of charismatic leadership, inspirational leadership, visionary leadership or transformational leadership, through a change or transformation happens with individual, team or organization.

The collective action that transformational leadership generates, empowering ( “Empower”) those who participate in the process. There is hope, there is optimism, it is energy. In its essence is transformation management leadership that facilitates redefinition of people’s vision and mission, renewing their affiliation and restructuring of their systems to achieve goals.

The components of transformational leadership is also referred to as the four I’s:
1. Idealized influence / charisma: This dimension implies that the manager acts as an inspirational role model and evokes pride, faith and hope among employees by actively tackling problems and expressing confidence and challenge the status quo.
2. Inspiring motivation: The leader inspires employees to accept and strive towards challenging goals and a vision for the future.
3. Individual consideration: The manager shows personal respect for employees by giving them special attention and see the individual’s needs.
4. Intellectual stimulation: The manager formulates new ideas that give employees an opportunity to reflect on common practice and thinking.

Within manage theories about inspiration, it is customary to compare transformational leadership with other forms of management. Transaction Management and passive-avoidant leadership, also called laissez-faire management or let-it-scour-and-go management, are two management styles often used as a benchmark. Here, the latter leadership style described as passive-avoidant in line with findings from research showing that this is an overriding factor summarizing leader passivity. Transaction management implies that rewards are given after tasks are performed in line with the manager’s desire, and involves a new relationship between manager and employee. This type of leadership is to motivate subordinates to perform as expected, whereas transformational leadership is believed to lead to achievement beyond what is expected. One can draw parallels to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, where transformational leadership plays in an individual’s intrinsic motivation, while transaction management largely about extrinsic motivation. An effective leader often uses both transactional leadership and transformational leadership, and these styles does not mutually exclusive processes. The last style that often analyzed together with transformational and transactional leadership, passive-avoidant leadership means that the leader either intervenes only when something does not go as planned, or, in its most extreme degree, avoid doing anything at all.

Research on transformational leadership illustrates how managers and employees are included in the ideological alliances and not only new alliances. Workplace total life, achievements, survival and change possibilities explored in research on transformational leadership. International studies have shown that if a manager believes in his employees and shows that every individual matters to an organization’s functioning, increasing organizational efficiency and well-being and job motivation of the individual. There is also relationship between transformational leadership and increased job affiliation.

Criticism of theory and measurement
As theories most also the theory of transformational leadership has been criticized. It is pointed out several weaknesses in it. These shortcomings also apply to other leading theories: ambiguous terms, insufficient explanation processes, a narrow focus on the dyad manager / staff member, omission of relevant managerial behavior, a heroic image of the head and too little emphasis on the importance of the situation in the study of management. Also weaknesses concerning validity, emerging from the most widely used measuring instrument in this field, Multi Factor Leadership Questionnaire, often referred to as MLQ. Dealing critical is central to research. The existence of criticism against the theory of transformational leadership, makes it no less interesting and important to study this kind of leadership. Knowledge of criticism may be part of the picture.

Leadership and personality
A key question is whether transformational leadership is related to personality traits leader. The literature contains specific person descriptions of transformation leaders, which means that they, for example, are warm and open to change. This indicates that the character is relevant for such leadership.

Personality Theories have been key in leading theories until the 1950s. Pull theories lost followers after Stogdill and Manns meta-analyzes around the 1950s, when the current view was that managers could not be selected on the basis of drafts. Decades after this it became almost “taboo” to talk about managers’ personality. Character has however once more been a resurgence as a result of new discoveries and improved targets in play tradition from the 1980s onwards. The renewed interest in a personality psychological approach to understanding of leadership may be due to the resurgence of interest around the five-factor model of personality, as well as new requirements for modern managers. A number of US and cross-cultural research has elucidated relationships between the leader’s personality and his or her achievements. Today it is used many personality tests both in the selection of personnel and leadership development in Norway. However, there is little research on the relationship between personality and transformational leadership in Norwegian culture.

Management, satisfaction and job motivation
Management is ranked as the most frequently mentioned explanation for an organization’s success in Norway, ahead of employees’ capabilities, plans and strategies and financial resources. With such a background, it is important to look critically at how different types of management is related to such work staff motivation or manager’s assessment of the manager’s effectiveness as a team leader and manager.

Management and burnout
An important aspect in the evaluation of management’s health and wellness among employees. In the article from “Burnout in the information technology sector: Does leadership matter?” Are the relationships between management and burnout studied? Burnout can be defined as job-related stress. The three components of burnout are emotional exhaustion (being “emotionally overdrawn” and exhausted), cynicism (one absent and cynical attitude towards work, clients and colleagues) and low experience of coping at work.

Many have criticized this term and asked if there are variations of such somatization or depression. Transformational leadership has previously been linked to lower levels of stress at work. Generally, there exists surprisingly little international research on management and health. Some studies have also examined the relationship between transformational leadership and burnout without reaching any definite conclusions.

It is becoming more theory and research on inspirational leadership. The research suggests that leadership in terms of control and management should be supplemented by other aspects such as awareness of the leader as a role model, dedication, indication of the sense of the individual’s work and motivation through inspiration. Also an attitude from management that it is allowed to ask critical questions about the way a working on in a work environment, is decisive. These aspects addressed in transformational leadership. Today, the struggle for the right employees is important. Here comes the manager’s ability to create motivation and inspiration as an important factor. Findings indicate that the value of feeling that just the work you do as an individual matter, and that as an individual can contribute to its further development, is essential for job motivation. Fundamentally, it’s about to be an enthusiastic and open leader, having clear goals and be a good human being with respect for others’ point of view and ideas. An illustration of the difference between transformational leadership and transactional leadership is that transformational leadership involves doing the right things, as opposed to transactional leadership, which consists in making things right.


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