I am obsessed with change. My practice, Paradigm Shift is all about raising different perspectives by overlaying lenses to get to the real picture of what’s going on. Change in organisations is the one constant. Restructures, acquisitions, mergers, organisations in growth and decline all have change as the key outcome.
Here’s what I know:
For anyone who is in any sort of leadership role (my definition is someone who has people to look after and manage) I think it’s really important to consider the following:
Change maker leaders are those who during times of chaos keep a calm personna. They set a plan to manage their team behaviours by understanding what triggers individuals and why they can switch their behaviour in times of stress and react in an almost childlike state. They also understand behaviour linkage. They have an ability to keep their own powerful presence but are not controlling. They follow through on strategy but it might not be in the traditional way the business expects. They continually ensure the team is managed through good strong effective communication based on expectations and outcomes. They give enough detail but not too much especially as all may not be as good as it could be. They provide consistent feedback and allow the team to also share their own respective viewpoints- not always verbal so to understand what the real issue is (the unspoken problem) as opposed to the spoken problem. They also give quiet strength guiding the team to step up and make suggestions, create processes that may in fact be better than what was first thought and to even fail. In summary, they have a strong identity, bring clarity through the chaos and can unscramble the stories to bring a focus that creates a strong vibrant and focused team that can handle anything that is thrown at it.
Chain breaker leaders are those who use control as a first base- well the only base. This is usually because this person is a little but unsure of what the outcome is going to be so they try to control everybody and everything to keep their own sense of comfort with the process. They have a clear understanding of the process, are happy to follow the strategic plan to the letter but fail to observe when the team behaviours change. They usually seek measurement by their own success but omit one fatal thing. They are not aware of the team’s behaviour when it changes, how to understand what the underlying issue is and more importantly how to bring that to the forefront, deal with it and get the team back on track. They miss the trigger signs and become frustrated that the team does not seem to be understanding the process. They live for fixing process and strategy. The team can be in fear mode and operate in a highly reactive state.
There is an argument that you need both change makers and chain breakers in an organisation so long as they work alongside each other and use their super powers for mutual benefit. The reality is that it never really works out like that. The one who controls through process won’t ever win. It really comes down to then – As a leader – how well do you know yourself? How are you showing up? Check out your team’s response to you when you introduce change, new concepts, projects … The signs are there. Do you have the respect as the change maker or the fear attached to being a chain breaker? Then overlay the lens again and again to distill what’s actually going on !