Date of Paper/Work

12-2018

Type of Paper/Work

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership

Department

Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Sharon Radd

Second Advisor

Michelle Wieser

Third Advisor

Katherine Todd

Abstract

With the abundance of change and leadership research and literature at our fingertips, why do so many change initiatives fail? Is there a connection to leaders’ perspectives on what factors inform their change leadership practices, and how do they think about engaging followers in change? This thesis research project leveraged qualitative interviews to explore leader perspectives on what factors inform their change leadership practice, particularly with respect to their approach for engaging followers. To set a theoretical foundation, this project reviews Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (1984) to provide insights to the role that experience plays in the individual learning for leaders. I then look to Argyris & Schon’s Theories of Action (1974) to understand how organizational learning enables or hinders change, as well as studies that address resistance to change and follower engagement. The key result of this research is the identification of two potential archetypes of leaders and their approach to change management. Specifically, though all leaders prefer flexibility, there were key differences in the way the two different types of leaders used their experience to shape their change leadership practice, the way the two types of leaders rely on their leadership teams to shape and lead change, and the way the two types of leaders leverage follower data to influence the change.

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