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erp leadership stylesDid you know that there are many different leadership styles? Did you know that leadership styles can be identified and measured? Did you know that ERP organizational change literature suggests that executive teams and leaders that tend to have real (not perceived, assumed, or desired) transformational leadership qualities may have the benefit of a known ERP organizational change critical success factor?

These are important questions as leadership styles (individual and as teams) come in many forms. As ERP organizational change agents, it is important to understand, assess, and be honest about leadership styles and their strengths and weaknesses. ERP organizational change efforts often consist of a significant iterative process of improvement, may require business process re-engineering, usually requires increased demands on internal time and effort, consists of much diversity in terms of experience/perspectives/opinions/knowledge, may encounter resistance to change (which could be dues to many reasons), and many other change variables. In other words, ERP organizational change can be quite disruptive (to the norm) as well as require significant organizational resources (time, money, effort). And, also often requires significant alignment.

Although resistance to change can be a very useful tool, at some point, an organization is either committed to the project or they are not. But, for the effort to work, this takes leadership that is strategic, effectively listens to the workforce, and ultimately creates a culture of teamwork and commitment towards the goal. Northouse, author of “Leadership: Theory and Practice”, describes transformational leader attributes as an idealized influence, inspirational motivation, and individualized consideration. Moreover, transformational leaders raise the level of value about reaching goals and help the team transcend their own self-interest. They manage emotion, inspire motivation, are creative and innovative, and create a supportive climate for discussing differences in opinions. ERP organizational change leadership style needs to allow a managed risk-taking orientation that drives creativity and innovation as well as organizational learning. Emphasize on transformational leadership as being a project “catch-all” is certainly an ERP organizational change critical success factor.

There is some great literature that suggests and demonstrates the value of transformational leadership. Shao, Feng, and Liu (2012) found that their empirical results emphasized transformational leadership as a critical factor in obtaining the desired organizational culture as well as to improve knowledge sharing on ERP success. Burns, Kotrba, and Dension (2013) further describe that transformational leaders possess predicted organizational cultural characteristics such as strategic vision, celebrating success, employee support, innovation, goal setting, and organizational culture orientations and identification that exceeds beyond some of the cultural orientations of transactional leadership (Georgada & Xenikou, 2007). Burns, Kotrba, and Dension (2013) also forward the suggested notion that in times of crisis and significant organizational challenge, transformational leaders may be best oriented to provide, promote, and develop a more adaptive organizational culture (Uhl-Bien, Marion, & McKelvey,  2007). Bass and Avolio (1990) suggest that transformational leaders are able to stay in tune with the desires of employees but also maintain alignment of realities and expectations (that would be required for a successful ERP organizational change).

(In upcoming posts we will discuss more specific ERP organizational studies regarding transformational leadership).

Transformational leadership begets transformational culture.

What your leadership style? How do you know that?


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