A few of you know I am currently writing a book. The Book. And last week I got to the chapter on Change Leadership. Which in the beginning of mapping out the contents and chapters seemed so important. But when I came to writing the chapter I was flummoxed. There’s not much to say. It’s a NIKE imperative – Just do it!
A leader takes people where they want to go, great leaders take people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but where they ought to be – Rosalynn Carter
Many people perceive that change leadership is the most important element of executing successful change, more so than change communication. And I have empathy with that perspective as much as my world is ridiculously biased by the importance of change communication.
You can create the best change communication in the world, but if there is no change leadership, or the leaders of the organisation are not demonstrably supporting and committed to the change, your words won’t mean much. For you see, a leader’s actions are highly symbolic – and symbols and the sense we make of them always trump what is spoken and written.
There is much argument academically over whether leaders are born or made. I believe while some people inherently possess leadership traits, you can develop or enhance leadership traits and behaviours if you are willing. I’ve taught leadership subjects in postgrad – it has always felt like padding out the semester to me though. Yet, students often tell me it is the subject they enjoyed the most. So maybe the appetite to take up leadership positions is widespread and further education is seen as a way to feed that hunger.
So here’s the abstract of what I know about change leadership from my experience in organisations, not the academic texts.
- Change leadership takes courage and bravery.
- Change leaders need to make decisions..
- Change leadership requires followers.
- Change leadership can be lonely.
- Change leadership can be shared.
- Change leaders need to communicate.
- Change leadership requires you to expose yourself (figuratively).
- Strength based leadership works.
- Situational leadership works.
- Command and control leadership rarely creates sustainable change.
- You don’t have to be Barack Obama or Richard Branson.
Finally, change leaders influence – and the ability to influence is drawn from multiple sources.
- Being a connector – genuinely interested in the people around
- Being known for action – you get things done
- Being known for good insight – you are wise and considered
- Being known for integrity – you say what you mean, and you mean what you say.
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