Leading Organizational Change

Transformation change agent Roland Sullivan asked this question of the OD Community on LinkedIn: Does "positive leadership" provide a better guide to change in organizations?

Let's look at what it takes to lead organizational change.

As Warren Bennis said so well, Leadership is the ability to turn vision into reality.

From that we can distill some of the key elements:

- Vision: Leaders can see something that others aren't seeing yet. They see a solution. Or a new product. Or a customer need. Or new possibilities on a new horizon.

- Turning: Leaders can "turn," a word that has ancient roots: "to cross over, pass through, overcome."

- Reality: Leaders can realize (make real).

But a true leader does not do any of the above alone. She conveys what she is seeing (her vision) to others so that they can see it too. She helps others to cross over (the turning) from the "as is" to the "to be." And she enlists others in making the new reality materialize.

Where does "positive" come in? At every point in the journey:

- Vision: Leaders ask, How can we break through to a new level? What are we capable of? What are we called to become?

- Turning: Leaders ask, How can we get started and get moving? What will we need for the trip? How will we support one another?

- Reality: Leaders ask, How do we make this work? How do we hold the gains? How do we keep improving?

During change, it can get confusing at times. People will look to leaders for guidance on the way to go. Leaders, therefore, must be very CLEAR:

- Communicate
- Listen
- Engage
- Align
- Renew

Posted by Terrence Seamon, March 4, 2010


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