Leadership Development In A Changing World
In today's competitive business world, organisations across the globe are facing fierce competition, enforcing them to implement effective leadership and change management strategies to generate and sustain their competitive advantage in the market. As per Madanchian et al. (2017), effective leaders are the backbone of a successful business because the leader aims for creating a balance between the interest of stakeholders of the company while also being prepared for incremental and radical changes that have the potential to disrupt the entire business. However, contemporary leaders face a number of challenges that are necessary to be addressed for the business to continue its progress in the highly competitive business world. One of such leaders is Sundar Pichai - CEO of Alphabet and Google - who is known for his intelligence, knowledge, humble nature, and positive approach towards technology (Hartmans and Meisenzahl, 2020). Pichai is a successful business leader, running two of the biggest technology companies in the world, who focuses on creating a positive change in the world. Successful leaders such as Sundar Pichai demonstrate a number of characteristics and traits that separates them from other leaders. They are highly engaged in their business operations, and they prepare for future changes so ensure that the business remains relevant despite negative business environment. Modern leaders must make themselves familiar with contemporary models of leadership and change to sustain the growth of their business. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate contemporary models of leaderships and change that are commonly used by leaders in the modern era that allows them to stay ahead of their competitors and prepare for unforeseen challenges. This essay will apply these principles on the case study of Sundar Pichai to understand how he demonstrates these characteristics, attributes and skills, and apply them to his business decisions. The example of change will be discussed in various contextual factors to understand how they apply in different scenarios.
Analysis of contemporary models of leadership and change
Before beginning the analysis of the case study of Sundar Pichai, it is important to evaluate the contemporary models of leadership and change that are adopted by leaders on a global scale in current business era. In the past decade, the changes in the perception and demand of customers have shifted the focus on organisations towards fulfilling their social responsibilities (Vecchiotti, 2018). Similarly, traits are demonstrated by modern leaders - who are more focused on maintaining a balance between the interest of various stakeholders - rather than prioritising profit maximisation above anything else. For example, a survey reported that 73% of millennial customers prefer to pay extra money for those products that are sustainably produced by companies; therefore, leaders are focused on embracing sustainable principles with cost-effective techniques to achieve success (Curtin, 2018). In this regard, one of the most common contemporary models of leader is the transformational leadership approach; in this style, leaders focus on motivating, encouraging and inspiring their employees to create and innovate change that result in the growth of the business and shaping its future success. A study reported that trust in the leadership account for 77% employee engagement in the workplace, which cannot be achieved if the leaders are focused only on profit maximisation (Smarp, 2020). Modern leaders are aware with the fact that embracing the change and finding innovate solutions for existing problems are necessary for the success and growth of a business in today's highly competitive business environment. With transformational leadership model, leaders are focus on four key areas, including inspirational motivation, individualised consideration, intellectual stimulation and idealised influence. All these factors all them to positive embrace and be prepared for change (Ghasabeh, Soosay and Reaiche, 2015).
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Another contemporary model of leadership is servant leadership approach, which is popular in industries such as IT and entertainment - where the demand is high for skilled and talented employees. As per this model, the key priority of the leaders is to serve, which is oppose of traditional view about leaders, i.e., thriving of the company and its business (Eva et al., 2019). Furthermore, charismatic leadership approach is also popular among contemporary leaders, allowing them to influence a large number of people to accept their radical ideas and work on them to bring them to life. A good example is Elon Musk - CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX - who is known for his charismatic leadership style that allowed him to make Tesla more valuable than its giant competitors such as GE and Ford, increasing its market capitalisation over $93 billion (Sawyer, 2020). Due to his charismatic approach and drive towards brining radical positive changes for the humankind allow him to attract talented employees - who are willing to work for him to bring these ideas to life (Grabo, Spisak and van Vugt, 2017). Along with these models of leadership, contemporary change models include Lewin's change model, Kotter's change model and McKinsey 7-S Change Management Model. Lewin's model is simpler, as it only contains three steps for change: unfreeze, change and refreeze. This model is effective because its first step prepares employees for the change; the second step ensures change is implemented properly and the third step ensures that the change policies are followed and its objectives are achieved (Rosenbaum, More and Steane, 2018). Kotter and provided 8-steps that clearly guide leaders in addressing issues such as resistance, communicate change and achieve its goals. It creates urgency and communicate the vision correctly, while focusing on shorter-goals, to achieve desired results. McKinsey 7-S model divides the process into 7 categories, consisting strategy, shared values, style, staff, structure, system and skills, to effectively implement change.
The principles of contemporary leadership and change models discussed above relates to the case study of Sundar Pichai, who uses them to contribute in the success of Alphabet and Google. However, Pichai was not a born leader, he has developed these skills with time and experiences. He studied metallurgical engineering from IIT Kharagpur, India and completed material science degree from Stanford University(Hartmans and Meisenzahl, 2020). Currently, due to his effective leadership skills, he has become the CEO of Alphabet and Google, making him of the highest earning executive and one of the most famouspeople in the technology sector. Pichai has developed these skills with time. Based on the analysis done above, Pichai has demonstrated that he has adopted transformational leadership skills. He is highly inclusive in his approach because he interacts with people to empower them to make significant changes.Even facing continuous pressure, he remains calm and focus on finding solutions for existing problems.
Google is known for providing various services and facilities to its employees in order to create a positive environment where they have the option to engage in various activities for personal development. Google has awarded 'the best place to work' award by Fortune due to its initiatives, and all these initiatives are promoted under Pichai's leadership (Fortune, 2017). For example, Google allows its employee to work on their personal projects during their shift timings, there are no limits on the number of sick leaves employees could take, there are paid maternal leaves, employees get paid vacations, there are facilities of free food available and many others. As per the principle of transformational leadership, all these decisions promote intellectual stimulation among employees and they also idealise the influence of the leader. Pichai not only focuses on the employees, instead, he gives equal importance to other stakeholders of the company. For example, Pichai is known for his actions that are taken towards promoting communication engagement. A good example is the decision made by Google to give 1 million Virtual Reality (VR) handsets to students in the UK that are in primary schools so that they could use them to learn how the technology has evolved and open up new opportunities for learning(Grace, 2016). Pichai has promoted diversity in the organisation, which allows Google to attract talented employees on a global scale. Employees work in an inclusive environment where they work towards creating better future and finding innovative solutions to existing problems because Pichai ensures that they are focused on these goals(Vecchiotti, 2018).
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However, there are certain instances where the lack of preparation, focus towards future and use of effective change model result in creating challenges for Pichai while implementing change policies. He failed to rely on effective leadership style principles to influence the behaviour of his subordinates, creating a difficult situation in the workplace(Nahavandi and Krishnan, 2017). For example, Google is known for its diversity and inclusion policies; however, one of its senior developers issued a memo in which he claimed that men are biologically superior than women. This memo created a big controversy and Pichai has to cut his vacation in half and join back the office to resolve this issue(Amobi, 2017). Considering the controversy, Pichai decided to fire the senior developer who wrote that memo, which created a bigger controversy because many people argued against the decision taken by Pichai. They claimed that the decision of Pichai is a direct violation of freedom to speech and as a successful business leader, he should have given the developer a chance to prove his point(Amobi, 2017). However, Pichai soon learn from his mistakes and rather than making rash decisions, he focused on the implications and outcomes of his decisions, which allowed him to become a better leader. He mentioned in an interview that he uses exercise and meditation to calm him mind and he spends time with his family to ensure his physical and mental wellbeing, which are critical for the success of a contemporary business leader.
Pichai is also know for his effective change management skills, which allows Google to stay ahead of its competitors by continuously embracing new change policies. For example, one of the biggest changes that affected companies is the use and development of artificial intelligence (AI) that has the potential to drastically increase unemployment rates by eliminating the need for human assistance. Despite these controversies,Pichai focused on embracing this change and using it to create a better world(Choudhury, 2021). He used his effective leadership skills to create a team of AI to find how this technology could help humans rather than creating challenges for them. The team focused on using AI for accessibility features for disable people. In the recent Google I/O, the company announced the next generational language model based on AI that has the potential to replicate anyone by using information about them online. AI-powered dermatology tool, AI use in Google Maps, and Google Cloud's new AI platform are just some examples of use of AI by Google in its new projects (Choudhury, 2021). Pichai has positively implemented this change by using change management models.
The use of Kotter's 8-step model allowed Pichai to ensure that the change policies are effectively implemented in Google. Employee resistance is one of the biggest challenges faced by companies when they implement change management policies in the workplace (Radwan, 2020). Furthermore, many employees go against the change policies, as it changes the current way of working, making it difficult for them to adjust as per new policies. Effective leaders such as Pichai addresses this issue by adopting the principles of contemporary change model, such as Kotter 8 steps change mode. It provides eight steps that can be followed by leaders to ensure that they effectively implement change policies in the workplace(Das, 2019). The first step is creating an urgency for change sparking initial motivation to get things moving in a particular direction; everyone in the company must want this change to happen. For example, Pichai told in an interview that the AI will have a greater impact on the world, then compared to fire or electricity (Clifford, 2018). The continuously emphasis on the role of this technology in changing the world, which creates an urgency among employees at Google, and they want to implement change policies relating to AI. The next step is forming a powerful coalition, which focuses on bringing together a team or people that have the capability of successfully implement the change. For example, Pichai has hired talented AI engineers in Google Brian program, which is a deep learning AI research team, working under the umbrella of Google AI (Google, 2021).
Another step is creating a vision for change that is focused on something bigger. Pichai is known for bringing larger than life projects to life through his vision, such as Google Chrome, Google One, and others. The fourth step is communicating the vision, which means removing people's concerns and anxieties about the change and becoming open about it (Small et al., 2016). Pichai clearly states his ideas and be very open to suggestions for new ideas, making it easier for him to implement change policies. The fifth step is removing obstacles in the way that have the potential to hinder the change policies. Eliminating negativity from the workplace, creating an inclusive work environment, and building a talented team allows Pichai to eliminate obstacles and implement change policies effectively. The sixth step is creating short term wins to motive the entire staff. For example, Google has a reward program that recognise special behaviour by employees that focus towards accomplishing its goals (Lindstorm, 2017). The seventh step is built on the change that focuses on continuously working and improving the change to achieve desired results. The last step is anchoring the change to the corporate culture. The working culture created by Pichai allows him to incorporate these change policies and models into the environment of Google to achieve better outcomes. These leads to his success as a business leader.
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Based on the above observations, it can be concluded that the contemporary model of leadership and change are focused towards embracing social responsibilities of companies and taking actions that are in the interest of a wide range of stakeholders of the company. Some of the popular contemporary models of leadership include transformational leadership, servant leadership and charismatic leadership style. Moreover, rapid technological advancements have increased the need for using contemporary models in order to manage change in organisations. Lewin's change model, Kotter's change model and McKinsey 7-S Change Management Model are good example ofcontemporary model of change that are used by companies while implementing change to eliminate resistance from employees and embrace new technologies. The case study of Sundar Pichai is selected who is a successful business leader, working as the CEO of Alphabet and Google. Sundar Pichai has adopted transformational leadership style, which allows him to inspire and motivate Google employees to continuously embrace new technologies and innovate to launch new products and solve existing problems. He also engages in community development and focuses on creating a diverse and influence environment in Google. Pichai uses Kotter 8 step change model when implementing change policies in the workplace to eliminate any form of resistance among employees and encourage them to use these changes to innovate and find better solutions to existing problems.