Radical Change, the Quiet Way Tipping Point Leadership Introduction to

  • Radical Change, the Quiet Way
  • Tipping Point Leadership

Introduction to the Lesson with the authors’ summaries:

  1. Radical Change, the Quiet Way

At some point, many managers yearn to confront assumptions, practices, or values in their organizations that they feel are counterproductive or even downright wrong. Yet, they can face an uncomfortable dilemma: If they speak out too loudly, resentment may build toward them; if they remain silent, resentment will build inside them. Is there any way, then, to rock the boat without falling out of it? In 15 years of research, professor Debra Meyerson has observed hundreds of professionals who have dealt with this problem by working behind the scenes, engaging in a subtle form of grassroots leadership. She calls them “tempered radicals” because they effect significant changes in moderate ways. Meyerson has identified four incremental approaches that managers can quietly use to create lasting cultural change. Most subtle is “disruptive self-expression” in dress, office decor, or behavior, which can slowly change an unproductive atmosphere as people increasingly notice and emulate it. By using “verbal jujitsu,” an individual can redirect the force of an insensitive statement or action to improve the situation. “Variable-term opportunists” spot, create, and capitalize on short- and long-term chances for change. And through “strategic alliance building,” an individual can join with others to promote change with more force. By adjusting these approaches to time and circumstance, tempered radicals work subtly but effectively to alter the status quo. In so doing, they exercise a form of leadership that is more modest and less visible than traditional forms–yet no less significant. Top managers who want to create cultural or organizational change–perhaps they’re moving tradition-bound businesses down new roads–should seek out these tempered radicals, for they are masters at transforming organizations from the grass roots.

  1. Tipping Point Leadership

When William Bratton was appointed police commissioner of New York City in 1994, turf wars over jurisdiction and funding were rife and crime was out of control. Yet in less than two years, and without an increase in his budget, Bratton turned New York into the safest large city in the nation. And the NYPD was only the latest of five law-enforcement agencies Bratton had turned around. In each case, he succeeded in record time despite limited resources, a demotivated staff, opposition from powerful vested interests, and an organization wedded to the status quo. Bratton’s turnarounds demonstrate what the authors call tipping point leadership. The theory of tipping points hinges on the insight that in any organization, fundamental changes can occur quickly when the beliefs and energies of a critical mass of people create an epidemic movement toward an idea. Bratton begins by overcoming the cognitive hurdles that block organizations from recognizing the need for change. He does this by putting managers face-to-face with operational problems. Next, he manages around limitations on funds, staff, or equipment by concentrating resources on the areas that are most in need of change and that have the biggest payoffs. He meanwhile solves the motivation problem by singling out key influencers–people with disproportionate power due to their connections or persuasive abilities. Finally, he closes off resistance from powerful opponents. Not every CEO has the personality to be a Bill Bratton, but his successes are due to much more than his personality. He relies on a remarkably consistent method that any manager looking to turn around an organization can use to overcome the forces of inertia and reach the tipping point.

Lesson objectives/outcomes

At the end of this assignment, students will be able:

  1. To analyze how leadership affects change, based on your reading, research, experience, etc.
  2. To identify some of the legal, moral and ethical concerns of operating/managing an organization
  3. To show how these legal, moral and ethical concerns affect change.

Instructions

Discussions will be posted per week on Canvas. Students are required to post their views and discussions.  You are also expected to read and respond to at least two (2) of your classmates’ postings for each discussion.  

Your participation is an indication that you are learning. Your posted responses would demonstrate your understanding and application of the knowledge gained.  Your postings to each discussion must be substantial and be supported with references.  Please follow the APA style for your writing.  Remember this is a graduate level course and the length of your responses to your classmates’ postings should be a minimum of 200 to 300 words in length.  Responses are expected to be more than just “I absolutely agree” or “Excellent point!” to receive credits; a guideline to use is that responses should have between 100 to 150 words.  All postings (discussions and responses) must be posted by the due date in order to receive full credits and don’t forget your citations. 

Please note that there are two due dates for all your online discussions:   

  1. Your initial posting in response to the discussion questions is due no later than the Thursday of the assigned week.
  2. Your minimum of two (2) responses to two (2) or more of your classmates’ postings are due by the assigned Sunday of that week. 

The instructor would be monitoring all the ongoing “dialogues” and grading students on their participation. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. After reading the 2 HBR articles, please comment on your take of how leadership affects change, based on your reading, research, experience, etc.
  2. Please identify some of the legal, moral and ethical concerns of operating/managing an organization and discussion how these concerns affect change.
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