Leading and managing change in education: Putting transformational leadership into practice

Linda Yin King Lee and Joseph Kok Long Lee
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

Today, educators are working in a rapidly changing environment. As change creates immense opportunities for improvement, leading and managing change has become an essential responsibility for them. This paper analyses a scenario of an educational change in a university and illustrates how educators led and managed it. The scenario involves the launching of a Community Health Care Education programme which aims to train different levels of health care personnel to provide community-based nursing care. The programme has three levels, namely a Higher Diploma in Nursing Studies for the training of Enrolled Nurses (in a face-to-face mode); a Diploma in Health Studies (Community Health Care) for the training of community health workers (in a distance learning mode); and a Home Health Watch Programme for the training of community volunteers (in a distance learning mode). The programme is a large-scale initiative in nursing education and is presented by the Division of Nursing and Health Studies of the Open University of Hong Kong. Transformational leadership, characterized by its distributed nature and capacity development objective, is adopted to facilitate change. This type of leadership is highly desirable for staff development and yields long-lasting results. With reference to Lewin's three-stage model of change, the change process is divided into the unfreezing stage, changing stage and refreezing stage. Through force field analysis, the driving and restraining forces that influence the outcomes of change are modified to achieve the desired goal. The change is driven by transformational leadership through its four components: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Strategies such as the following are implemented: sharing of leadership, practising collegiality, motivating and empowering the staff, providing training and support, addressing the sources of stress and anxiety, and providing recognition. The change is considered to be effective. The present experience has valuable implications for educators worldwide in initiating educational change and positively affecting their educational practice.