Change. Leader: Introduction
Cut to the chase:
The disruption of 2020 is not over!
- There’s many things you will need to change about how you lead to continue to be a successful leader of change!
- 33 topics and 65 change actions for you to work through
If the first two decades of the 21st century have taught us anything, it’s that uncertainty is chronic; instability is permanent; disruption is common; and we can neither predict nor govern events. There will be no ‘new normal’; there will only be a continuous series of ‘not normal’ episodes, defying prediction and unforeseen by most of us until they happen.
Jim Collins & Bill Lazier, Entrepreneurship 2.0
It’s 2021. We are now facing collectively the most significant and disruptive changes in our careers, possibly lives. There is a clarion call for strong change leadership.
Are you up for it?
All of my work with leaders of organisations during change tells me one thing. If you want to lead change, you need to change yourself first. Every time.
There is no ‘perfect’ change leader. Even those who are lauded for their outcomes and efforts in creating successful transformation recognise they are in perpetual change. Challenging themselves, learning new things, adapting, and growing.
The phrase ‘change leader’ is both a noun and an instruction.
You don’t have much time, I understand that, and 2020 has left you weary and exhausted. This year, 2021, has started with an attempted coup in one of the largest democracies, a variation of COVID 19 that turns a curve on the graph of spread into a vertical line, and an escalation of public outcry on the matter of sexual violence against women by men in power; it does not appear that the scale of disruption is slowing.
So, this book is written in short segments. Consume in one hit, or dip in, absorb, let it settle, come back and take another chunk. It’s your call.
Each chapter finishes with suggestions on what you can do to change your leadership approach to be more aligned with the future demands.
I want to be clear about the type of change you need to make. Success will not be measured on how big a change you make in your leadership of change; it will be in that you try. Any shift of the dial is a good one.
You will also find a reading list by way of the Leader’s Bookshelf at the end if you want to go deeper.
But if the smallest thing that happens is that your subconscious absorbs these chapters and the lessons start to emerge in your leadership, you will be changing as a leader and being a better change leader.
This book presents 33 topics that represent areas for you to do differently or better. Each topic is followed with 2-3 change actions you can take to be a better leader of change.
My invitation for you is to consider each one on a line – where ‘zero’ is at one end, infinity at the other. As you work through each topic, mark on the line where you are. The metrics are subjective, relative and up to you – you might be a 5 or a 45 or 3/4. Think about what it would take to move you closer to infinity.
This can be represented as a spider’s map – see below.
At the end of the book there is blank map for you to make notes of where you are at. This is a way of making sense of the changes you need to make personally, not a validated instrument of change. There is no definition of what zero is or what infinity is. I invite you to revisit this in six months’ time after having time to repeatedly try the change actions and map how far you have shifted.
We’re entering a stage which has been described as late-stage capitalism. Late-stage capitalism is said to be characterised by increasing inequality, the rise of hugely powerful corporations, and absurd commercialisation of products and services (people will buy anything!)
Depending on which economic thinkers you follow, late-stage capitalism leads to either socialism OR fascism. Both have profound impact on organisational life and industry. The famous economist Joseph Schumpeter, in his well cited book ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’, describes how this leads to the cycles of ‘creative destruction’, and while the term ‘creative destruction’ has been most commonly used in reference to technology innovation, it means that the ‘process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.’ There will be no return to ‘normal’ – the storm is the norm now.
What we understood to be disruptive prior was often largely visible and to some extent predictable and trackable. Futurists had an easier job of identifying signals. A significant proportion of disruption followed a technological determinist agenda – the new technology determined the innovation. Spotify replaced the music sales, Netflix obliterated the VHS / DVD market, and Uber overcame the taxi business.
The dependence on technology as a disrupter is largely based on the entrepreneurial zeal of the organisation and its financial position and willingness to be an earlier adopter. Disruption is often a choice. You can choose to disrupt; you can choose to respond to disruption.
The pandemic didn’t follow that pattern. It provided an example of rapid large scale forced change with complex change impacts and took many by surprise. Not many company strategies had considered the likelihood of toilet paper being hoarded, airplanes grounded, and schools closed.
In 2020 we had a taste of what is to come.
This means the best of leaders, the most capable of leaders, those that will take healthy thriving workplaces into the future, will be the leaders who are accomplished at looking within and making repeated changes to the way they lead.
This book will help you with that.