Is It Time to Refresh the Roots of Change Leadership?

What do you think characterizes modern-day change leadership practice? In truth, a casual observer focused on media channels might be hard-pressed to move beyond greed, vested interests, abuse of power, poor ethics, ‘Me first,’ and a top-down targeted culture.

How not to do change leadership!

Those qualities stem in the main from the ‘command and control’ culture which has blighted organisations across the world for too long. When applied to change scenarios, the consequences can be shocking for the individual, teams, and the whole organisation.

However, despite its many flaws and an ever-growing number of detractors, the command and control culture is still very much alive and thriving around the world, despite some significant advances in leadership thinking and modelling, and is probably happening right now in an organisation near you.

What works best, in my experience

Unfortunately, highly effective change leadership is that most valuable and rare commodity. How do we improve that supply and bring fresh hope to thousands of employees across our globe who are willing and able to make a profound contribution to what works best for their organisations?

At the heart of my view lies a need to refresh our leadership roots.

Focus on basics and keep it simple

In all my years of experience as a leader and manager, in the public, private and voluntary and community sectors, I have tried to keep things simple. I believe in getting the basics right and bringing out the best in people. Doing that meant that I, our team, and our organisation benefited and flourished.

Refreshing those roots requires building trust by staying authentic and keeping on top of your game.

Five singular tasks for every aspiring change leader

How to do what I suggest below may be hard; however, we can all make sure that we do the basics right. That includes:

  1. Building trust, not resorting to compliance;
  2. Showing courage, not being risk-averse;
  3. Being authentic, not game playing;
  4. Listening actively, not just waiting for your opportunity to speak; and
  5. Expressing what you think and how you feel, without destroying the other person.

I am still consistently astonished when I find no North Star!

Our roots for the five practices above grow in the fertile soil of our teams, organisations, and even communities deep down among elements we rarely discuss. Here I am talking about the fundamental underpinning of every organisation – its North Star, often known as its purpose.

Are you flying by the seat of your pants?

I still encounter too many organisations that operate by the seat of their pants – no vision, no values, no mission, and no strategy. Does this example resonate? I had a co-worker many years ago who told me, when I inherited a service he had previously led, that the service had no policy because then it could not be held accountable for its actions. Really? I may be a little older now, but I am not prehistoric!

So what to do now to refresh your change leadership roots

Stop flying by the seat of your pants! Define and fully understand your purpose! Give your people a voice in its creation, and regularly and consistently review it with them. In times of plenty and of famine, your North Star will guide you and your organisation. So, whatever the changing scenario, you will stay true to your purpose.

Develop and regularly review the values – individual and organisational – that need to be aligned so you can all achieve together. Too often they are assumed or presumed. Be crystal clear on your own and your organisation’s values. Once misaligned, more critical elements of your work culture will fall into disrepair, with inevitable consequences.

Finally, to fully refresh your roots, focus on maintaining and improving your core skills as a leader and manager. Fluent communication, the use of digital technologies, effective performance management, resilient coaching, robust change management, and successful teamwork are at the heart of the basics! Armed with these, you will be ready for anything!

Transformation – of yourself, your team and your organisation and, ultimately, outcomes for your users or customers – will become the new reality!

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