Strategic leadership involves creating an innovative and unique organizational structure to meet the changing needs of the environment. It requires to handle the internal as well as external factors that affect its business and to process intricate reports. The leaders must be able to identify any crisis that might come in the future and make strategies to solve it. The strategic leadership demands the capability to understand and analyze the current business needs and to suggest the most suitable form of change, to finally implement this change using his/her innovative approach (Abbas and Asghar, 2010). It is more about transformation rather than just surviving at its original level. At this age of the ever-changing world, the role of a strategic leader is to transform his/ger thinking which corresponds to the change (Baghsorki, Dalvi and Shekarchizadeh, 2013). The components of strategic leadership include clear vision, motivated human capital, effective culture and balanced organizational controls. This module discusses how the transformational leaders lead their organization and the appropriate leadership styles and qualities they have. In this module, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet is selected for the critical review of leadership style. It examines his nature of strategic leadership and explores the theories and perspectives of his leadership.
Leaders of the organizations usually have a specific strategy to approach the challenges and opportunities of the future. The strategic leader discussed in this module is Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc and its subsidiary Google. He joined the company in 2004 as a product manager of Google Chrome and Chrome OS. After this, he moves on to work in different areas of google including google maps and Gmail, then went up to become the CEO of the parent company of Google. He exerts power over its employees by making them feel important and giving them enough credit for all their contributions. He is known to be more of a participative leader as he encourages the views of its employees and never fails to include them in decision making. The predominant culture here aims at making employees and consumers contribute their perceptions and opinions to create brand loyalty and a friendly working environment which is essential for any business to exist in the long run.
The strategic leaders can only exert some power and make a change happen only when they have some influence on their employees. Social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven in 1959 studied the impact of power and influence on leaders’ success which divides power into 5 different forms namely coercive, reward, legitimate, referent, and expert. Coercive power is to make someone do work against their will. Reward power, on the other hand, is a positive influence, it is giving a reward as against making them do the work. Legitimate power is the social norm that is generally based on the role that a person plays. Referent power is the power of people wanting to be like someone and is influenced by the appeal of the person. Expert power is to influence someone by the knowledge and skill that they require (Changing Minds, 2020). Pichai in his leadership is known to use the expert and referent power base as he has influenced his team with great skills and charisma. His focussed aim of organising the world’s information innovatively and stretching boundaries has been a motivating factor for his team. His leadership model has always been of laissez-faire, that is to hire highly talented employees and then let them work as per their strategy and creativity.
There are various leadership styles and methods which different leaders follow in an organization to exert power over the employees and achieve company goals. Daniel Goleman (2008) recommended 6 leadership styles that could help lead and manage a team. These leadership styles include coercive, pace-setting, visionary, affiliative, democratic, and coaching. The coercive style is used in a crisis that demands immediate rectification. Pace-setting is used to get high performance and quick results. Visionary is to have a clear vision or direction of the organizational goals. Affiliative is to create peace and build bonds to motivate people in stressful times. Democratic as the word suggests is to take into account the views and valuable perception of the team members. Coaching style refers to the training and development of the members to prepare them for the future. The power bases of French and Raven that could relate to Goleman’s leadership style include coercive power and expert power.
Pichai has always been described as the participative leader who takes into account the perceptions and ideas of its employees. He follows the Democratic form of Goleman’s leadership style. He always takes into account the valuable suggestions from its employees which have proven to be very prosperous for the company. He focuses on hiring the best people around the globe who bring in insightful and creative ideas. He motivates his team by focusing on their success as well and appreciating their contribution. His leadership is based on collaboration and cooperation among the people. He wants to radically change the world and become a transformational leader. His principles are based on transforming the world into a better place where digital information is available in even remote areas so everybody can gain knowledge. He is always reactive to the changing environment and therefore has helped Google in expanding its business practices. He has been investing in different ventures and businesses to expand its reach. Lately, he has announced Google’s fund for India’s digital economy.
For organizational transformation, Pichai was very clear with the vision and maintained the core competencies and friendly culture in the company. He motivated his employees with a reward and made them inclusive in the decision-making process. He along with Larry page made sure that companies core business and cash flow remained intact. Along the way, he faced a lot of criticism from the US government for breaching data and collaborating with China military but he handled that quite well by ensuring them that their company is working inconsistently with the US laws. He significantly expressed the components of the leadership which were – setting a direction for the company, establishing balanced organisational practices and resolving issues that come in between. His leadership competency is applaudable but there is still a long way to go in resolving the issues related to data privacy and accusation of inadequate diversity.
Every organization has a distinct working culture to have a specific strategic influence over the employees depending on the leader and industry of the organization. The strategic leader needs to have a strong impact to attain long term organizational goals and to make employees work efficiently. Sundar Pichai has always been very keen on direct communication and internal transparency to have to better working environment. He is now handling the parent company of google within which each company makes different products for a completely different industry. With this strategic development by its leaders, it can make a transformational change which will benefit the company in the long run. Its strategic applications in the company are the reason Google still stands as the most diversified and consumer-friendly business with motivated employees and holistic advancement. Therefore, it is very important to have a constant improvement in the overall development of the company and have leaders who are enthusiastic and sedulous.
The success of any organization depends on how fast it is reacting to the changing technology, environment, and consumer preference. Implementation of any change in an organization requires strategic planning and management. It is important to recognize the need for change and engage the appropriate people in the process of transformation to bring invaluable insights. The modernization of the organization leads to a lucrative organizational change, which is the key to long term sustainability and modernisation (Ismail, Mokhber and Vakilbashi, 2015).
The impact of any strategic change in an organization depends upon the leader's competency to perceive things, the power base and the team role used. The innovative approach of the leaders to have a new vision and bring transformation in the organization is the art of responding to the market and technological trends. The leaders must motivate their employees to adhere to the changing business environment and maintain enthusiasm by giving them confidence. It is the role of the leader to have an emotional connection with the employees to perceive their concerns and views regarding the initiative. The change is any organization is never easy but it is the responsibility of the leader to make its employees more adaptable to the occurring changes (Harvey and Novicevic, 2011). Transformation is an integral part of every business to exist and grow beyond its current level. Without any changes, the organization will remain stagnant and soon die. Moreover, the transformation must be justified and well-planned in advance, along with the capability to handle repercussions if gone wrong. This part of the module aims to analyse the role of changing initiatives and strategy of leaders, with attention to the emotional impact of organizational change.
It is important to have interpersonal relations in a company rather than just focusing on completing the task. According to some reports, teams’ competence and performance can be highly impacted by emotional intelligence in the organization (Golanka and Mojsa-Kaja, 2013). Belbin’s team roles (2011) predict the potential success of an organization based on the diversity of personality and individuality of the employees. He pointed out that the lack of proper collaboration and harmony can lead to a downfall in the overall business process. He defined a few roles that are essential in attaining organizational goals namely Action-oriented roles (Shaper, Implementor, Complete Finisher), People-oriented roles (Coordinator, Team worker, Resource Investigator), and Cerebral roles (Plant, Monitor-evaluator, Specialist). To perform tasks efficiently all the 9 roles are significant but certain roles may differ in importance depending on the size and nature of the organization. Belbin suggested that one can improve on how they contribute to the team by focusing on strengths and weaknesses which can prove fruitful in organizational transformation. The Belbin team roles (2011) can use different Goleman’s leadership style to have emotional stability and task-oriented goals in the organization. For example, the coordinator role can use the affiliative leadership style as he/she will be able to motivate and influence the members to work as per target.
Organizational transformation is necessary for any enterprise to survive in the long run. Its objective is to adapt to new challenges and identify the threats and opportunities in advance. In around two decades, Google has reached heights in a variety of domains including search, advertising, and varied applications to become one of the highest names in technology and advancement. It has transformed into different market domains. To handle the diversified and plethora of high-tech products, in 2015, Larry and Sergey created Alphabet to manage all the domains which were not directly related to Google’s main objective. Later that year Pichai was appointed as its CEO. The share price soared from less than $600 to more than $1300 since he took over as CEO. This management decision was very important to scale the business more efficiently and productively. With all the things under one enterprise, it was becoming difficult to manage and control the functions of every product. Thereby this division and transformation of Google made the creativity more significant. Alphabet has also been into various acquisitions and joint ventures for the consistent evolvement of the company. Sundar Pichai’s main leadership strategy was to not only see his success but also pay heed to the success of others. This motto brought him this far and all set for the management of this organization.
Google was able to succeed in this major transformation when its leaders introduced Alphabet and all the inside changes after that due to the culture set by the top managers. It has built a well-rounded corporate culture by welcoming valuable ideas form its employees on paid company time to motivate them to think beyond (Witzenburg, 2018). It has created an environment where its employees have endless space of growth and development personally and professionally. This kind of positive environment creates a feeling of ownership among employees which is very important for the holistic advancement of the organization. Pichai focused on the emotional impact of change on the employees of the organization and always paid heed to appreciate the human initiatives of any form. He has made it critical to focus on improving and assisting its employees to work rather than complaining and blaming for wrongdoing. This attitude has successfully resulted in a lucrative expansion of its business practices.
Google always had the vision of making accessible information in just one click and strategies to expand its functions in diversified markets. The objective of the company to make a societal impact while exploring different domains in the economy has made it one of the top companies in the world. It has understood the importance of transformation and how to deal with changing times. The key strength of Alphabet is the sense of doing the right things at the right time for the betterment of the future business. This division explains a case of attaining desired resources like acquisitions which would have been impeded if done under the previous establishment. Alphabet helps Google to focus on its main area of business and let it expand into a variety of business houses without explaining its relationship with Google. Alphabet has several subsidiaries along with Google in different areas of the market like venture capital, autonomous driving, private equity, artificial intelligence, and many more.
While it has been enough emphasized how leaders’ motivation and influence can have a major impact on the organization's transformation, it is important to note that every individual in the team is important to have a well-rounded impact on the organization structure. Pichai can be said to use a few of Belbin’s team roles including team worker, coordinator, and resource investigator. All these are people-oriented roles as described by Belbin. These can be perfectly seen in his style of management (being democratic). This makes the team more inclined towards attaining professional goals as it aligns with personal objectives. The entire team and not just the top managers have a strong impact on the continued prosperity and advancement of the company.
The next evaluation is of the process of achieving the organizational transformation which is discussed above to be an integral part of a business. Most of the time, the employees resist adopting any change in the normal course of business practices as it can become very comprehensive. To deal with the issue of change management, there are several tools with a few steps that can help clarify this process and make it smooth. Some of them are Lewin’s 3 step model, Kotter’s 8 step model, and the PDCA cycle. Lewin’s 3 step model includes unfreezing, transition, and freeze. The primary step in the process is to make people realize the need for change and deviate from the status quo of the company to prepare employees for the transition. The next step is to bring in new objectives and guidelines to have a direction and explain people in the organization on the importance of transformation. The last step deals with freezing the new approach of dealing with things by making sure the employees stick to the new guidelines and making the transition complete (Barakat, Khudair and Sarayreh, 2013). Kotter’s 8 step process, on the other hand, deals with more urgent tasks. Its steps involve creating urgency and vision, communicating that vision to the people, removing the obstacles, forming short wins, progress on the change, and finally imbed the formed change. Whereas, the PDCA tool is a 4-step process defined as “plan-do-check-act.” It follows the continuous approach of evaluation and improvement (Pavletic, Pipan and Sokovic, 2010).
The organization of the study chosen (Google) could have chosen the conceptual tool of Kotter in its division into Alphabet. The process of transforming into Alphabet for all its varied business ventures it is important to have a detailed transitional process. Kotter tool involves the 8 steps which include creating, communicating, and acting on the vision created by the company’s top managers and thereby handling the functions thereafter. To efficiently communicate the vision, Pichai ensured that employees understand the values and objectives of Google’s expansion into Alphabet and encouraged them to work towards that change. The team then worked for the subsidiaries and gave Google its independence in operating search engine. It was ensured to have short wins also in this process of the entire shift of the parent company like making Google independent from other subsidiaries for better focus and implementing segment reporting. And finally, the progress of the change is closely motivated and handled by the entire team to institute permanent change.
Every organization operates uniquely and therefore have a different approach to environmental changes. This makes the nature of changes in the organization different and appropriate to its functions and context. The nature of change in the area of study (Google’s transformation into Alphabet) can be described to be Reactive. Google was expanding itself into a varied number of business areas which was making it ineffective. Therefore, they saw a need for transformational change to focus on its main area of business. They understood the need for internal alignment which could be achieved by making incremental changes in the organization. The dynamics of the business forced them to react to the internal changes of the organization. Impact of this transformation can be seen to be affirmative as it has exerted dominance over various market domains. The company is ruling the industry in many of its aspects, acquiring more organizations and maintaining the friendly culture of growth and development. The company must not stop here and think of adjusting to the changing technology and adopt AI in all of its domains. Various opportunities lie ahead of Alphabet. It can make its customers more inclusive of practising coding and can have a young leadership program for its various divisions.
This module highlights the significance of organizational transformation in general as well as a case study of one of the top organizations. One can see that the Belbin’s team role can be applied in every big or small organization change or decision to achieve goals more swiftly. The conceptual tools give us a direction of how to work and more importantly how to get work done. The steps discussed in the different tools provide a base for accomplishing objectives. It is important to maintain a positive culture in the organization and pay attention to the emotional impact of the transformation on the employees. The employees must be well aligned with the given prospectus of the firm to achieve the desired goals on time. Finally, the nature of the organizational change also has to be considered to have an idea of the direction in which to work and deploy resources. It is understood from this module that for a business to survive in the long run it needs to have strong strategic leadership management and frequent transformation to meet the internal and external changes in the organization.
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