Jan Katz has spent the past ten years developing programs to turn around organizational performance in academic HR and environmental management. A licensed wastewater treatment operator, she holds a BA summa cum laude in Human Resource Administration and an MS in Organizational Leadership and Administration from Concordia University. She also sings baroque and classical choral works, and practices Aikido, a Japanese martial art.
Who Can Lead Organizations Through Decline? Is a leader who takes a troubled organization into bankruptcy a "bad" leader? How can a declining organization select a new leader when it needs to turn around, to "change or die?" The painful process of turnaround requires an organization willing to 'license' the leader to take necessary action, up to and including closure or bankruptcy. Successful organizational turnaround also requires a leader capable of managing this special type of project.
This paper is based on the thesis "License to Lead Saves Organizations" (3), a study to examine leadership perceptions within organizations that had recovered from a period of serious decline. The components of the study were a literature review and three case studies. The case study subjects were from organizations dependent upon voluntary membership that had brought in new leadership to help them revitalize. The case study interviews were designed to elicit the leadership story, and compare perceptions held by the leaders and the members about their history, their leadership, and the state of their organization.
The leader selection model used is based on the "Project Manager Style" matrix of Shenhar and Wideman (1). It is generic to leader behaviors reported in these three different types of non-profit organizations. The study was conducted as part of Concordia University Class GAA900, 2002.