'Transformational leadership' curbs bad attitudes towards change
t's no surprise that a cynical attitude towards the prospect of change makes change harder to implement. But it's important to understand that cynicism happens at an Individual and workplace-wide level and both must be addressed to get employee buy-in for change initiatives. What's more, leaders who can inspire their employees and make them feel confident in their work have the best chance of limiting the development of such disabling attitudes, says a study from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.
"Having a leader who can do those things makes people want to change," says Katherine DeCelles, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour at the Rotman School. She led the study with Paul Tesluk of the University of Buffalo and Faye Taxman at Virginia's George Mason University.
Their conclusions were based on information collected through surveys with nearly 700 correctional officers at 14 different prisons in one mid-Atlantic U.S. state. Information on employee insubordination was also gathered.
Not only did researchers confirm that employee cynicism contributed to lower levels of commitment towards change, they also found that a more cynical climate in the workplace led to lower levels of individual commitment towards change, regardless of officers' personal attitudes. A poor climate could bolster individuals' negative attitudes too.
"The cynicism starts to become more of a norm, so it becomes much more entrenched," said Prof. DeCelles.
Cynicism was reduced, however, in workplaces with "transformational" leaders -- people who helped employees see themselves as valuable and competent, and who successfully communicated their ideas about why change was necessary and desirable for everybody.
Prisons are rarely used as subjects for organizational behaviour research, said Prof. DeCelles, who initiated the study after participating in a previous project about rehabilitation activities in U.S. correctional facilities.
However, their rigid, hierarchical structure made prisons ideal for studying the effects of cynicism towards change, she said. With nearly half a million employees, a 38% turnover rate, and two million inmates, the prison system also deserves to be studied because of the resources dedicated to it and the important role it plays in society.
"It really is a significant organization on so many different dimensions and yet we know very little about how it functions," said Prof. DeCelles.
The paper was published in a recent issue of Organization Science.
- 'Transformational leadership' curbs bad attitudes towards changefrom Science DailyFri, 10 Jan 2014, 15:00:35 EST
- 'Transformational leadership' curbs bad attitudes towards changefrom PhysorgThu, 9 Jan 2014, 16:00:33 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- The Lancet Psychiatry: Depression symptoms that steadily increase in later life predict higher dementia risk, study shows
- Seeking to rewind mammalian extinction
- UNC-Chapel Hill scientists find likely cause for recent southeast US earthquakes
- Introducing the disposable laser
- Scientists challenge conventional wisdom to improve predictions of bootstrap current
- Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code
- US climate-adaptation plans long on ideas, short on details, priorities
- New interpretation of the Rök runestone inscription changes view of Viking Age
- Hydropeaking of river water levels is disrupting insect survival, river ecosystems
- River food webs threatened by widespread hydropower practice
- 13-million-year-old 'storyteller' crocodylian fossils show evidence for parallel evolution
- DNA barcodes gone wild
- Consuming too much fructose during pregnancy raises the child's risk for heart disease
- Columbia Engineering-led team advances single molecule electronic DNA sequencing
- Dartmouth-led study of chimpanzees explores the early origins of human hand dexterity