Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Which Leaders Kill Organizational Change?

How many of each of these 4 types of leaders does your organization have?  The results probably point to why change fails to live up to expectations.

Bernard Bass is the creator if this diagram.  He created it in 1960!  Bass believed 2 aspects of leadership best described leaders:  success and effectiveness.  He argued that successful leaders consistently make or exceed their budget numbers. Business success is a good thing - we need leaders to ensure our organizations are profitable. 

Bass also argued that the 2nd aspect of leadership was effectives.  Effective leaders represent the interests of their people as much or more than their own self-interest.  Ineffective leaders use their self-interest to trump other interests, including their own people and sometimes the business.  Effective leaders inspire loyal people, while ineffective leaders create turnover.

Fred Luthans collaborated with Bass at Nebraska.  Of successful leaders, he said they:

“Spent relatively more time and effort socializing, politicking, and interacting with outsiders than did their less successful counterparts ... they did not give much time or attention to traditional management activities of planning, decision making, and controlling or to the human resource management activities of motivating/reinforcing, staffing, training/developing, and managing conflict.”

Luthans defined effective leaders as follows:

“The perceived quantity and quality of the performance of a manager's unit and his or her subordinates' satisfaction and commitment, then the biggest relative contribution to real manager effectiveness comes from the human oriented activities - communication and human resource management.”

How would you quantify the percentages of these 4 types of leaders in your organization?

A.  _____%  Successful & Effective    

B.  _____%  Successful but Ineffective

C.  _____%  Unsuccessful but Effective

D.  _____%  Unsuccessful & Ineffective  

If you have a high percentage of B’s and D’s, add that to the list of why 70% of change initiatives fail.


Bass, B. M. (1997). Does the transactional-transformational leadership paradigm transcend organizational and national boundaries? The American Psychologist, 52(2), 130-139.

Luthans, F. (1988). Successful vs. effective real managers. Academy of Management Executive, 2(2), 127-132.


  1. Nice post Ron. I came across Bass while working on my current blog post on Agile Learning, while researching transformative leadership and vision.

    Zubin R. Mulla wrote a piece on understanding visionary leadership for Godrej Magazine. Feb, 2008 and has a downloadable paper citing four factors of transformational leadership from Bass and his colleagues.

    He says the four factors were derived from asking a number of people to think about leaders who had inspired them and then asking them to enumerate their behaviors. The factors were later validated in numerous studies globally He cited Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.

    What I'm not as clear about is Luthans' comments: 1) successful = not giving much time or attention to traditional management or human resource management activities and 2) effective = "perceived quantity and quality of performance" via "human oriented activities - communication and human resource management.”

    Just how is that done as it sounds like a bit of a conflict? Would love to see a successful AND effective sample of activities or a case example or two on that. ~ D

  2. Deb,

    I think one way of viewing the Luthans' quote is through micromanagment. Micro-managers spend all their time in traditional, task-oriented parts of leadership. Micro-managers spend no time on the people activities. Or, let's say the have a 90% to 10% ratio of traditional to people activities.

    Luthans is saying that different leaders, those that spend 90% on people and only 10% on task see better performance ... not personal performance, but their organization's (or department) performance.

    These leaders delegate more of the traditional, task-oriented functions to the subordinates because they've developed trust. The leaders that micro-manage too often have little trust or faith in their subordinates. They worry if they don't do the job, it won't get done right.

    Hope that clarifies a bit.

    Thank you for your comment.


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