The 21st century has presented us with some of the most intense and quickly moving challenges to organizations. Those organizations that don’t adapt face extinction. However leading change to survival is no easy task. This is in part because organizations are complex human systems that tend towards the status quo.
Many organizations remain under management that is tightly controlled. This leads to the loss of creative leadership strategies as employees are not allowed to grow and experiment with new ways. Given such bureaucracies, talented people with potential often leave.
Organizations that adapt and thrive in the 21st century will need to nurture leadership potential rather than be threatened by it. It is too costly to lose talented employees who require opportunities for risk taking, running experiments, and who call for a less controlling and a flatter and friendlier organizational structure.
When you exercise leadership change, watch out for the following types of people who will impede your change strategy:
The Blocker: No matter what strategy is offered and what informed experiments you want to run, this person dismisses the ideas as not being possible. You may hear that “it was tried before,” ”it is doomed to fail,” and so forth. Such responses often reflect someone who is threatened by the change of the status quo.
The Manipulator: This person undermines change efforts by taking perverse joy in setting up people for conflict. He or she may report what person B is doing or saying (often incorrectly) about person A, and vice versa. Manipulators are good at their craft and end up causing conflict, confusion, and delays.
Moving away from the status quo is threatening for many. It moves systems into places with which employees are unfamiliar. Yet, human beings are not so much afraid of change as they are of loss. The loss of the familiar, the safe, and the secure often keeps us rooted to where we are. This cannot last, given today’s globally competitive and fast-changing world. We need to learn how to be adaptive, more than ever.
Erik (erik at attuning dot org)