Leaders Change MindsRosabeth Moss Kanter (Evolve!/2001) likens the constant change happening today to the croquet game in Alice in Wonderland, a game in which “nothing remains stable for very long, because everything is alive and changing.” Robert Kriegel adds, “Not only is everything changing, but everything exists in relationship to something else that is changing." He suggests, "If you or your products don't grow, improve and evolve, as in nature—they (and you) will face extinction.” Faced with this understanding we quite often either freeze and do nothing or go into a frenzy and begin to change everything.
Certainly, change must become a part of our orientation. However, the changes must be calculated changes and not a reaction to perceived pressures or change based on the shallow "new-is-better" mind-set. As part of our ongoing maintenance (and it should be ongoing)—personally and organizationally—we must take a look at what should not be changed (and some things shouldn't) and what might, could or should be changed. Core values don't change, but methods (approaches) often do. If these things are not considered in advance, the tendency will be to make rash and impulsive moves from one ditch to the other when the pressure to change begins to loom over us.
Change has become the mantra for leaders. We often feel the need to move into a situation and shake it up … because then we’re really leading. And if we are not careful we can get into a change for change’s sake mindset. If something doesn’t change we aren’t doing our job. But we must remember that when talking about change in a leadership context, we are talking about changing people—their minds—and situations only indirectly. Leaders change conditions through people.
Sometimes the change we need is to get people to hold on—to stay the course—when they would feel like giving up, changing direction or abandoning the mission. Sometimes the status quo is exactly what is called for and changing people’s minds and perspectives to see that need, is the leader’s task.
Sometimes the change we need may indeed look on the outside, like no change at all. But it is change just the same. Sometimes our yardstick is not how different it looks, but how consistent it is. That takes a lot of changing.
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