As leaders, we need to come to grips with the fact that everything is in a process of change continually; as we live life, build, create, sell or renovate things are changing. Even when things are left alone, the reality is they too change, they decay, time has a way of changing everything! To come to grips with this helps us position ourselves in a much healthier paradigm - where we understand change as a process, a life process in fact, and we miss the boat for meaningful success when we see change as a destination, that once we have arrived, we simply put our feet up and coast.
"Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
—John F. Kennedy
I am not talking about change for change sake, rather healthy change that is a part of healthy growth, innovation, creativity and maturity. The reality is that no change is perfect change and despite the best plans and strategies, even great execution, things will always need to be adjusted, or tweaked. Even with the best of planning not every contingency can be foreseen and it is often necessary to make course adjustments as you sail on towards your goals. Change.
Nothing around us stays static. People, places, policies, climate, economy and technology is always changing and in this there are a multiplicity of potential opportunities that can be seized and potential crisis to be navigated through. Markets and opportunities present one year, may not exist in the year to come. This is a reminder to us that we are a part of something larger than ourselves and the world really doesn't revolve around us. The challenge comes to evaluate the changes happening around us and effectively assess the opportunities before us.
A friend of mine is the publisher of a large city, daily newspaper and several community weekly's and she is all to well aware of how change, technological change is impacting their business as a newspaper. Social media, the internet and the way in which we have integrated these into our daily life is changing the way we get our news and information. In light of this, my friend recognizes not only the challenge but the opportunities for her business and is leading her team boldly as they leverage core strengths alongside the current and emerging technology to reshape what and how their newspapers do what they do. We are all aware of the significant challenges in the book publishing industry with the rise of self-publishing, publish on demand, and electronic books. The extinction of the vinyl record, cassette tape and soon the compact disc and DVD will result in many established businesses closing their doors if they are not able to steward effective, relevant change in the world around them.
The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. - Kenneth Blanchard
Within life however, there are aspects which are established and firm. Change doesn't mean everything changes and we need to keep certain aspects in place such as our values, vision and core business as the foundation of what we do. These things anchor us in seasons of change and help us to make smart changes thereby not losing site of why we change in the first place. The other aspect is things like our character and values, personally and corporately, guide us in how change is made. The how's are as important as the goals themselves understanding that sustainable growth is acquired within the process of change and says a great deal about us as people and organizations. Financial success must not assuage guilt fro unethical means!
Leading in a climate of change is as much an art-form as anything. It requires the ability to lead your team through change, inspiring them each to dig deeper, persevere, innovate and adapt.. This is sometimes by lighting a fire under them but more often by igniting a fire within them. Help them see the benefits and the importance of the specific change, allow them input towards the process and to provide feedback. As a leader you not only execute and direct, you inspire by modeling courage, competence, affirmation, vision and setting the tone. Your qualitative, empowering leadership will no doubt call out the best in those you lead who are willing to be led. At the same time will direct the decisions of change and process from start to finish.
"For big companies to change, we need to stop thinking like mechanics and to start acting like gardeners." — Peter Senge
- What changes are happening in and around you?
- In what ways can you prepare and plan for these changes?
- Can you identify the opportunities? How can you realize them?
- How can you include and lead your team through change?