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Funny the thoughts that randomly run through our heads. Recently I was standing at the edge of the ocean near where I live, mesmerized by the constant action and change occurring. I was reminded of the words attributed to Heraclitus, ‘everything changes and nothing remains still’ … and … ‘you cannot step twice into the same stream’.
Change is inevitable, yet is often difficult as it impacts and involves people. There are manuals, seminars and much research about this matter but let me see if I can summarize a couple of key concepts that I have observed.
Involvement: Basically, people embrace change that is done with them more so than what is done to them. People who are included, involved and engaged in change tend to embrace it. People who are ‘victims of another management plan’ tend to resist it, passively or actively. I learned this early from my experience in the non-profit world.
Rationale: Change without compelling purpose is a waste of effort. If leadership cannot justify clearly the need for change it really is an exercise in wasted energy. Will this change make us more effective, efficient, healthy or competitive? If there is no clear rationale for the extensive use of emotional and human capital then maybe the change is about the leader’s need more the than organizational need or fear. Coke found this out with the New Coke that nobody wanted.
Pace: Often those leaders visioning change under-estimate the time, energy and capital required to implement those changes. This can at times make them feel under-appreciated and misunderstood. Vision and implementation are great friends as long as they listen to each other. If they don’t, the resulting frustration decreases organizational capacity and desire for change.
Any leader worth their salt is a change agent.
Asking the following questions can be catalysts for effective leadership during change.
- Who needs to be involved in this process?
- What is the benefit or need for this change?
- What is in place to make sure that we keep well connected to the implementers of this change?