Date of Award
Presidents and CEOs play a critical role in leading their organizations through planned transformational change (PTC) and generally, do not do it very well. This may, in part, be a result of leaders not closely examining and challenging their thinking about PTC and their role in leading it. Leaders' mental models determine what and how they think about their organizations, employees, transformational change and what their leadership means and how their mental models determine their actions and behaviors in planning and implementing PTC. By examining and challenging their mental models, leaders may gain insights into alternative ways of leading and this reflection may result in action leading to greater effectiveness in their companies' ability to accomplish PTC. A methodology based on Chris Argyris' espoused theory and theory-in-use concepts can be used by external consultants to help leaders make their mental models explicit and open to their examination. This process allows leaders to challenge their mental models and to develop alternative actions and behaviors in effecting PTC. Research was conducted on four leaders of for-profit organizations. These companies varied in size, industry, and profitability. By conducting in-depth interviews with these leaders and their middle level managers, individual's mental models were analyzed and degrees of congruence between their espoused theories and their actual behaviors and actions were illuminated. It seems clear that mental models that stress a willingness to explore openly one's own thinking and behavior appears to result in leaders having greater choices of alternatives and selecting more appropriate strategies and actions in leading PTC. Little congruence seems to result in significantly reduced understanding leaders have about their actions and behaviors and leads to ineffective PTC.
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Rathmill, Stephen C., "The Role and Impact of Leaders' Mental Models in Effecting Planned Transformational Change" (1998). Educational Studies Dissertations. 95.
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