If we can unanimously agree that there are NO “get rich quick” schemes, by the same vein we can concur that organisational change simply cannot happen overnight. Just imagine trying to change the attitudes, behaviours and processes that have been established, supported and reinforced throughout the many tiers of an organisation over many years?
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw
And he’s not alone – Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel, Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg and Barack Obama have all shared noteworthy quotes about taking control and initiating the change that you want to see. Wise words from some very accomplished leaders.
Case in point
I’m currently in conversations with two leaders who both requested help transforming their organisation’s culture from its current Reactive state (autopilot, recreating the same mediocre results over and over) to a future state where people engage with their work in a more Creative (agile, strategic, and efficient) culture. However, their preferred course of action is quite different. One seems to be adopting the Hare approach whilst the other understands the value of being more like the Tortoise. Allow me to elaborate further.
The Hare wants to achieve a quick win by shifting the mindset of his staff from Reactive to Creative and thus create a more collaborative, innovative and outcome-focused workplace. He knows what he wants! We discussed usi
ng a leadership 360 methodology (Leadership Circle Profile) based on a series of individual and group coaching sessions for all key leaders; he agreed this was a great idea for everyone, except himself that is, and wanted a 6 month timeline. Do you see a risk with this approach to transformation?
Our other leader, the Tortoise, is prepared to slow it down and is mindful of the culture’s resistance to shift towards a more Creative Mindset. She appreciates the journey may take longer, but also recognizes that her capacity to lead others through the transformation will be significantly improved when she walks beside them. Together, this collective leadership team can create a business environment that emulates and enables the culture they wish to see throughout the organisation.
Teamwork must prevail
To be an effective leader, you need to walk the walk and talk the talk. Zenger and Folkman identified integrity as a vital competency when researching their book ‘The Extraordinary Leader’. You have to lead by example and simply cannot afford to take short cuts. Most organisations today are still very risk-averse and suffer with an ingrained immunity to change (Kegan and Lahey).
Leaders who succeed with organisational transformation have integrity in spades; they are clear about their vision, the contribution and impact on their employees, and have a keen focus on results. They take an overall system view and know that transforming an organisation’s culture is an ‘Adaptive Challenge’ (Heifetz and Linsky) and are prepared to endure the course.
In an earlier blog, we discussed The Hero’s Journey (courtesy of Joseph Campbell). Transforming an organisation’s culture is a Corporate Heroin / Hero’s journey. The two leaders I referred to, the Hare and the Tortoise, both have the same awareness about what their organisations’ need and the same intention to support these changes. Experience has shown that one is more likely to succeed and the other will predictably fall short; the Tortoise gets my vote every time.
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