Leadership and change


Mullins’ statement can be certainly true as change is a vital component in today’s management world most especially the business world. Mostly, organisations who find it hard to adapt to changes usually decline at the expense of other organisations who can adapt to these changes. For example, Nokia was faced with challenges when they failed to understand the software development and underrated the emergence of smartphones (Surowiecki, 2013).

In the blog, we can see models and theories of Burns, Lewin, Kotter and Mueller-Eberstein which contradict Mullins’ argument that stated “there is little management can do about change”. These models showed change can be manageable as well as be an important skill leaders must attain.

Different theories serve as evidences to the fact that change can certainly be managed. In 1951, Kurt Lewin proposed the 3-step change model in which he believed behaviour can be viewed as a dynamic equilibrium of forces which work in opposing directions. These driving forces push employees in the desired path to ease change (Robbins, 2003).

Figure 1: Lewin’s 3-step change model


(Source: SlideShare, 2012)

The first step in the process of change is to unfreeze the current situation. Fundamentally, this could be done by either increasing the driving forces that may influence behaviour away from existing situation, decreasing the restricting forces which may be of negative effect to the equilibrium or find a mixture of the two methods (Burnes, 2004).

The second step of Lewin’s 3-step change model is transition which could be done by persuading the employees to agree to the process, work together to achieve the quest for new information and connect the views of the employees to respected leaders in support of the change (Robbins, 2003).

The third step of Lewin’s model is refreezing which needs to be in effect just as the change is being employed to sustain this change over time. The main essence of the third step is to maintain the level of change by balancing both the restraining and driving factors (Robbins, 2003). Therefore, Lewin’s model demonstrates how the effects of forces can be the difference in promoting or hindering change.

Likewise, other models which determine how people may respond to change are the Burns’ model (2009) and Schlossberg’s model (cited by Mueller-Eberstein in 2012).

Figure 2: Burns’ and Schlossberg’s models


(Source: SlideShare 2015)

Fundamentally, the Burn’s and Schlossberg’s methods are almost of the same application. As Mueller-Eberstein noted in 2014, people believe that things don’t need to change as they may experience an “emotional roller-coaster when they are challenged with radical transformation”.

Figure 3: Lead and be the change


(Source: YouTube, 2012)


More so, to manage change leaders and managers must understand the motive to which their employees are resisting these changes. Mueller-Eberstein (2014) believed that leaders need to manage some certain factors to overcome the resistance highlighting clear vision to be the most vital factor. He further clarified that leaders must have a clear and positive vision as “80% of all change management projects mostly fail because they don’t have a clear vision” (Mueller-Eberstein, 2014).

Furthermore, Kotter formulated an 8-step process model in 1996 which is essential in achieving a successful change. Kotter International further modernised the model in 2014 as seen in figure 4 below.

Figure 4: Kotter’s 8-step process model

8steps kotterinternational 2014

(Source: Kotter International, 2014)

Looking at both Kotter’s and Mueller-Eberstein’s models, leaders can take certain actions to accomplish change and be of help to their subordinates during the process of change. Mullins’ statement that “there is little management can do about resistance to change” can be contradicted after combining the steps from the models discussed above as well as recognizing why people are resisting the changes.

A successful change can be referred to the case of Ron Williams and Aetna. Williams helped re-established Aetna from a company that was crashing out and hovering towards failing as an organisation into one of the leading diversified and largest healthcare benefits company in the world (MIT, 2008).

            Figure 5: Ron Williams of Aetna company

blackenterprise 09

(Source: Black enterprise, 2009)

Ron Williams based his emphasis on changing the culture at Aetna as he used his values to introduce the Aetna way. People who make use of services at the company were the main centre of focus in what is happening at the organisation. The employees in turn proved that they were in support of these values as surveys showed an increase in the level to which they were pleased to work with the company (MIT, 2008). Ron Williams rejuvenated the organisation through continuous implementation of his values and leading the employees through a difficult period of change.

To conclude, by looking at the different models and theories discussed earlier, leaders can gain the necessary skills required to manage change within the organisation. By using the models, the leaders can help subordinates overcome their resistance to change by finding out the reason to which the employees are resisting, setting a clear vision and frequently communicating with the employees.



Burnes, B. (2003) ‘Kurt Lewin and the planned approach to change: A Re appraisal’ Journal of Management Studies. Vol. 41, 977-1002.

Burns, D. (2009) ‘Clinical leadership for general practice nurses, 3: leadership mechanisms’ Practice Nursing 20 (12), 622-625.

Kotter International (2014) The 8-Step Process for leading change. Available at: http://www.kotterinternational.com/the-8-step-process-for-leading-change/&gt  [15 March 2017]

Kotter, J. (1996) Leading Change, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

MIT (2008) Leading Change: A Conversation with Ron Williams. Available at: http://video.mit.edu/watch/leading-change-a-conversation-with-ron-williams-9403/&gt  [18 March 2017]

Mueller-Eberstein, M. (2014) Why is change so hard? Lead and be the change in 5 simple steps. Available at: http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141126034320-1009730-why-is-change-so-hard-lead-and-be-the-change-in-5-simple-steps&gt  [19 March 2017]

Mullins, L.J. (2010) Management and Organisational Behaviour, 9th Edition, Harlow: Pearson Higher Education.

Robbins, S. (2003) Organisational Behaviour, 10th edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Surowiecki, J. (2013) Where Nokia Went Wrong. Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/where-nokia-went-wrong&gt  [16 March 2017]








20 thoughts on “Leadership and change

  1. Lewin’s 3-step change model really demonstrates how the effects of forces can be the difference in promoting or hindering change as it is posted in this blog but I in my opinion the Dr. John C. Maxwel model can also contribute to an effective leadership style.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lewins 3 step model is showing a good evidence of supporting the leadership change cycle from unfreeze to change and than to refreeze state.Looking at both Kotter’s and Mueller-Eberstein’s models, they are also a good models that you used to support the evidence of change management.


  3. Kurt Lewin, 3 steps models of leadership, is a fantastic model for organisational change. For an organisation to succeed it must accept change from autocratic to democratic in order build confidence of the team you are leading.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great development of the topic. If I may add something is will be: before looking to adapt to change, leaders and their teams must evaluate and identify the factors that might influence the company productivity directly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the question. I took part in an expense and capital budgeting process at my previous workplace which was introduced to analyse the cash flow of the accounts. Hope this was useful


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