Leading change in organization

From a contingency point of view, Kwek is regarded as a task oriented leader. He seems to do well in situations with decent leader-member relationship and strong position power. The leader-member relations in the organization are favorable, as his employees are loyal, dependable and supportive. His positioning power is strong, as he perceives himself to have full power and authority to direct, reward and punish subordinates. He experiences pride and satisfaction in task accomplishment for the organization.

As a task-motivated leader, he is at his best when the group performs successfully in achieving new sales record or outperforming the major competitors. So far, Kwek has always been strongly concerned to completing successfully any task he has undertaken. He runs a “tight ship” with clear orders. As Fiedler (1967) suggests that there are two fundamental leadership styles that are differentially effective in different situations, Kwek will need to develop more as a relationship motivated leader. This will enable him to derive greater satisfaction from better personal relationships with others.

He should show more sensitivity to his subordinates’ feelings and encourage them to participate and offer more ideas. Effective leadership will depend on the characteristics of the situation in terms of the ability of the leader to exercise power and control. The more power he has and the greater his influence and control then the less will be the dependence on the goodwill of others, and the easier his leadership task will be. Therefore, the ease with which he might be able to cope with either of these situations will depend upon whether he finds it easier to use a relationship-motivated or a task-motivated leadership approach.

Leading change in organization Up till now, no real change effort has been instituted because Kwek and his managers take the views that ‘father knows best’ and ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. Also, any change is thought to have a negative impact on them since the change could alter the formal, psychological, and social relationship that employees have with the organization. It will require everyone to give up long-standing habits and people will feel that they are forced to change by people and events outside of their control.

The current recession, however, has forced the need for reorganization since profits for 2001 have dropped drastically. There has been a big slump in property sales and this is expected to continue in the near foreseeable future. Also, peripheral businesses such as plastic moldings have folded. There has also been increasing customer dissatisfaction with core products, recurring delay in delivery of projects, and disgruntled minority shareholders who feel that their interests have been ignored.

Kwek will need to establish and communicate a compelling reason to change that shows people how their lives will be better and show a compelling vision for the future of the organization. The change is aimed at achieving clear, tangible, bottom-line results that all can see. The leadership will need to flood the organization with information about the change effort. Kwek will need to appoint a strong and committed top-management guiding coalition that is in full agreement about the need to change and what the change is intended to accomplished.

Kwek could create a coalition to approve change, forming teams to guide it, selecting the right people to fill key positions, making symbolic changes that affect the work, making structural changes to institutionalize change, and monitoring the progress of change to detect problems that require attention. Kwek could create a sense of urgency, preparing people for change, helping them cope with change, keeping them informed, demonstrating continued commitment to the change program, and empowering people to implement change.

He can increase learning and innovation in the organization by encouraging experimentation, reflection, knowledge importation, information sharing, diffusion of knowledge, systems thinking, and improvement of mental models. By doing these, the chances of making the right decision such as the direction of the organization is greater since more information is disseminated, and everyone provides input. There will be greater commitment and greater acceptance of change as integral part of daily work is KWEK’S Leadership Effective?

The leadership of Kwek Leng Beng has so far brought the organization many years of prosperity and growth in the context of modernizing Singapore. Although the Hong Leong Group has done well in the past, there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so in future. In this turbulent, fast changing world in which decisions need to be made throughout an organization and in which the information needed to make those decisions can be rapidly distributed, the principles and consequences of leadership are breaking down.

In this environment, the Industrial Age leadership of “command and control” or “planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling” is becoming out of date. “Control” has given way to “coordinate”, and coordinating implies a respect a respect for underlying beliefs and values in a way that controlling did not. To thrive in the Information Age, Kwek will need to do more. The employees will not only do what they are asked to so, but they will do it willingly and believe in it deeply.

Kwek needs to understand what encourage people to work their hardest and brightest voluntarily and to know that unless they can find ways of organizing to elicit this kind of work, the Group will fall behind its competition-who will understand and find ways to so it. Transformational leadership Kwek would need to develop more as a transformational leader, with a stronger vision that appeal to his employees’ “better nature and move them toward higher and more universal needs and purposes” (Bolman and Deal 1997: 314).

In order words, he needs to be a change agent. Transformational leaders seek to raise the consciousness of followers by appealing to higher ideals and moral values. Transformational leaders make followers more aware of the importance and value of task outcomes, activate their higher-order needs, and induce followers to transcend self-interest for the sake of the organization. Transformational effects are achieved by using four types of leadership behavior: individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, idealized influence, and inspirational motivation.

As a transformational leader, Kwek could then help team members view their work from more elevated perspectives and develop innovative ways to deal with work-related problems. He should appeal to employees’ ideals and moral values and inspire them to think about problems in new or different ways. He should develop behaviors to influence them through vision, framing and impression management. Vision is his ability to bind people together with an idea. Framing is the process whereby he defines the purpose of his movement in highly meaningful terms.

Impression management is his attempt to control the impressions that others form about him by practicing behaviors that make him more attractive and appealing to others. Other skills for transformational leadership include inspiration, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, participative decision making, and elective delegation. Transformational leadership will result in lower turnover rates, higher productivity and higher employee satisfaction. He will then instill feelings of confidence, admiration and commitment in his employees.

He will create a special bond with them, articulate a vision with which the subordinates will identify and for which they are willing to work. Each subordinate is coached, advised and delegated some authority. He will need to stimulate them intellectually, arouse them to develop new ways to think about problems. He will need to use contingent rewards to positively reinforce performances. He will need to find clear and workable ways to overcome obstacles and show concern for the qualities of the services his organization provides to the mass of the people.

People are bonded to their companies by more than paychecks and fear of unemployment. They need to believe in what the company is doing, They will need to have information available to them about how the company is doing. They need to understand the importance of delighting the customer in a world in which alternative sources are proliferating. Kwek needs to understand that unless the employees are delighted, the customers will not be.

Forcing people to go to work, to break a strike, to stay late, to do anything, may be the easiest solution at the moment, but in the long run, this approach creates much more difficulty. Effective leadership is about thinking beyond the immediate to identify other avenues that ultimately impinge on the hearts and heads as well as the bodies of the associates. A big part of effective leadership is the view that the leader takes of the strategic thinking tasks facing him, the work group, and the organization.

The quality of the relationships with others had a major impact on whether others would accept his view of the strategic challenges facing them. The leadership needs to build its influence on a moral foundation and then to communicate clearly and effectively to the employees. The judgement of whether the leadership of Kwek Leng Beng is effective or not is then predicated upon whether he is able to fulfill four key roles, namely, whether he is the direction setter, the change agent, the spokesperson, and the coach.

These roles are articulated as follows: 1. Direction setter- he needs to select and articulate the direction of the organization that will be recognized as representing real progress. The leadership will have to establish a vision so compelling that everyone in the organization will want to help make it happen. This is by means of the organizational charter outlined earlier. 2. Change agent- he needs to catalyze changes in the internal environment; in personnel, resources and facilities to make the vision achievable.

This is done by an overhaul of the organizational designs, system and culture. 3. Spokesperson- he needs to develop his skills as a speaker, listener through courses and seminars. He has to be the major negotiator with other organizations, and the builder of networks of external relationships to provide useful ideas, resources, support, or information for the organization. The leader and his vision must become the medium and the message that expresses what is worthwhile, attractive, and exciting about the future of the organization. 4.

Coach- to be an effective, he must let people know where he stands, what the vision means to him, and what he will do to make it happen. The leader as coach, must also be committed to the success of everyone in the organization, respecting them, building trust, helping them learn and grow, and teaching them how to constantly improve their ability to achieve the vision. It is still too early to tell whether Kwek will be able to develop all these characteristics of effective leadership, but signs are that efforts are being made in the appropriate direction.


  1. Yukl, G. (1998). Leadership in Organizations. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Shameen, A. (2001). Doebele, J. and Brown, H. The Man with the Golden machine gun. Forbes Magazine July 9, 2001 Schiffman, B. Forbes Faces: M&C’s
  2. Kwek Leng Beng. Forbes Magazine December 11, 2000 Forbes World’s Richest People – Kwek Leng Beng. Forbes Magazine November 16, 2000.
  3. Shameen, A. A reclusive tycoon fights for the underdogs-including himself. Asiaweek Magazine June 9, 2000

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