Sample Critical Thinking on Leadership and Governance

Leaders are the pillars of any organization. Their attitude, actions, and inactions dictate the organization’s profitability, image, and growth. An organization’s leaders are the face of the enterprise in the outside world and thus how they behave and govern those under them is critical to the success of the company. A leader’s decision-making skills and attitude are essential to a corporation’s success hence the need for leadership development programs in order to institute organizational change and sustainability. Leaders should thus evolve and grow in order for the organization to sustain its competitive advantage and growth in harsh economic times.

Leadership and governance encompass effective oversight, motivation, regulation, plans and policies, and strategic direction of the company. Leaders work within a complex organizational structure, and they need to understand their roles in order to institute change effectively and sustain the company’s growth (Malcolm Higgs, 2010, 370). Most leaders are blind to the systemic issues in their organization and are unaware that their lack of knowledge is a deterrent to the organization achieving its goals.

Some leaders, however, either consciously or unconsciously curtail organizational growth and sustainability through their attitudes and ego. Many leaders focus on their ego needs that lead to an impairment of any efforts for change. Transformational leadership requires the management of emotions. They also recognize the needs and values of their followers. They are aware of their limitations, have greater interpersonal sensitivity and can manage their emotions. They focus on the overall goal of the organization instead of their individual goals (Groves, 2006, 572). Emotional intelligence is thus critical for good leadership and governance. Effective leaders are thus demonstrating high levels of self-awareness, an ability to keep in tune with changing organizational cultures and “work in the moment.” (Malcolm Higgs, 2010, 368). While most of these traits are innate, can some of them be learned?

In tackling the above question, one needs to make a distinction between leaders and managers. While managers develop, plan and provide policies for guidance, leaders inspire, motivate and align people towards a common goal (Boaden, 2006, 11).Leadership development programs have been instigated in many parts of the world. The impact of these programs is arguable and difficult to demonstrate. In a study carried out by Ruth Boaden on the effects of leadership development within the NHS, it was found that the programs do make a difference for both the participants and the organization. The effectiveness of these programs on an individual is, however, unique to the individual and his (her) capabilities (Boaden, 2006, 12). With these in mind, how can leadership and governance be incorporated into organizational change and sustainability?

Using Kotter’s 8-step change model and his participation and involvement approach to change, leaders can institute sustainable change and development in their organizations. Leaders should involve their subordinates in initiating and implementing change. When employees are involved in the change process, they are motivated and willing to follow through with the change process. Leaders should excite people towards change in the organization. Transformational leaders create an avenue for learning and adapting to long-term change. They encourage and uplift their workers through organizational learning (Tucker, 2004, 220). To promotelearning, leaders should diffuse leadership throughout the organization. The model for diffusion should be decentralized with information flowing from all levels. When the other employees understand the reasons for the change through organizational learning, they will be more receptive and adaptive to change (Mora, 2010, 586).

The next step towards instituting change is by assembling a group of people with the vision and energy to institute change. Leadership entails organizing and empowering people towards a common goal. The challenge lies in developing an effective team. Hackman contends that a leader must be enormously sophisticated about team development (Hackman, 2002, 31). Effective teams have an enabling structure, a compelling direction for work and operate within a supportive organizational context. Building an effective team is complicated. Hackman contends that the primary responsibility of leaders in compiling teams is creating an enabling structure that will assure the effectiveness of the team towards organizational change over time.

Step three, involves the formation of a vision and the development of strategies to achieve the intended vision. Sustainable development is an area where most companies are failing in though awareness of the same is increasing. For a firm to reduce the environmental footprint of their actions and occupational risks, a leader must initiate strategies that aid in the same. The leader’s vision should be creating an environment where the employees and workers are aware of the requirements of sustainability. The leader should then institute mechanisms that are geared towards achieving sustainability. Such mechanisms may include learning about sustainability efforts and improving both the work conditions and pollution management (Luis E. Velazquez, 2011, 38).

After creating the strategies geared towards change and sustainability the leader should enlist a taskforce willing to implement those policies and remove any obstacles to the implementation of that change. The leaders of the team’s tasks should be taken through leaderdevelopmentprograms to hone their skills and acquire knowledge of what is required of them in their endeavor of implementing change. To remove barriers to change and sustainability, there is need for high participation and networking in decision-making (Kramar, 2010, 257). The teams should actively participate in the sustainability efforts and finding ways in which the envisioned strategies can be implemented.

Effective change will only be brought about if employees’ efforts are appreciated. Short-term wins should be celebrated as they motivate and encourage workers towards the attainment of long-term goals. The governance structure should be such that every team win is celebrated. Doing so not only increases healthy competition and job satisfaction but also increases the receptiveness by employees to change (Organ, 1983, 590). To sustain and accelerate the process of change, leaders need to hire, develop and promote the employees who can implement the strategies and bring in new ideas and process that reinvigorate the process. With an organizational culture of celebrating simple wins and rewarding exemplary performance, employees will be receptive to change. Rashid and Rahman showed that there is an association between corporate culture and the behavioral, cognitive and attitudinal tendencies towards organizational change (Rashid, 2004, 171). Reward thus facilitates the acceptability of change and leaders should incorporate it into the organization’s culture.

The last step towards instituting change is creating a nexus between new behaviors and success, and ensuring that there is a succession and development framework in leadership. Great leaders mentor and grow others. The governance policy should entail a growth policy whereby potential leaders are nurtured. These leaders should be taken through leadership development programs. The programs will not only equip them with the necessary skills requires to institute change and sustainability but teach them new ways of enabling this organizational change.

Leadership and governance are central to organizational change and sustainability. The efforts of leaders will dictate how the enterprise reacts to and adapts to change. Change and sustainability are critical in today’s world, and leaders need to know how to effect this change. Kotter’s 8-step change model offers guidelines on how organizations can achieve change and sustainability in the enterprise. The governance structure of the business together with the culture can either aid or hinder how employees receive and perceive change.


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Groves, K. S., 2006. Leader emotional expressivity,visionary leadership, and organizational change. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(7), pp. 566-583.

Hackman, R., 2002. Leading teams.. 1st ed. Boston: Harvard Business Review..

Kramar, G. J. a. R., 2010. CSR and the building of leadership capability. Journal of Global Responsibility, 1(2), pp. 250-259.

Luis E. Velazquez, J. E. a. N. E. M., 2011. Sustainable learning organizations. The Learning Organization, 18(1), pp. 36-44.

Malcolm Higgs, D. R., 2010. Emperors with Clothes on: The Role of Self-Awareness in Developing Effective Change Leadership. Journal of Change Management,4(10), pp. 369-385.

Mora, M. A. A. a. J. W., 2010. Learning to lead: evaluating leadership and organizational learning.Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(7), pp. 576-595.

Organ, T. S. B. a. D. W., 1983. Job Satisfaction and the Good Soldier: The Relationship Between Affect and Employee “Citizenship. Academy of Management Journal, 26(4), pp. 587-595.

Rashid, M. Z. A., 2004. The influence of organizational culture on attitudes toward organizational change. The Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 25(2), pp. 161-179.

Tucker, B., 2004. The influence of the transformational leader. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 10(4), pp. 103-11.