Leadership change is inevitable

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Whether we want it or not, change will always come and what we should ask ourselves is whether we are prepared for it? John P Kotter in the book Leader to Leader says: “No organisation today — large or small, local or global — is immune to change. To cope with new technological, competitive, and demographic forces, leaders in every sector have sought to alter fundamentally the way their organisations do business. These change efforts have been paraded under many banners — total quality management, reengineering, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, turnarounds.”

The best we can do as humanity is to brace-up for change and use it to our best advantage. The worst mistake we can make for ourselves is to think that change will never come. By so doing, we could be hindering growth and crippling the future.

In any year, one thing that we are assured of is that winter will come and our unpreparedness does not stop it from coming. So is any other season. This is true of every leadership position. We aspire, especially the young people, to go up the ladders of leadership, but one thing that does not cross our mind is that there is need for change in the modus operandi, perception and even the person himself. At the top, it can be so cozy and quite that we might end up forgetting that there is change brewing down stairs. We might realise that when we come down, we are left only with a position as the “boss”, but no longer the leader because we have been overtaken by streams of events.

A harsh statement I usually say to people that have just assumed a leadership position is that they should start preparing for their exit strategy. This makes them not to feel permanent and know that they can be substituted. This also makes them to have an obligation to develop someone to take over. In reality, as Myles Monroe would have said it: every leader should make themselves unnecessary in an organisation or position by grooming and growing other leaders to take over before they are over taken. Every leader should never over stay their tenure.

Generally, if we do not want to change we could be depending on old ideas to confront new challenges. It would be close to insanity to try and cure new sickness with old medication. This is what some institutions have done, only to their detriment, but to their dormancy. Most of the problems we see in our country and companies were caused by change and we were not prepared for that change. Lack of leadership change comes at a great cost. The momentum is lost as we slip into a redundancy mode.
There was once a time when typewriters were famous, but when computers came on stage, typewriters became obsolete. The best life lesson is that if we don’t want to embrace change we become obsolete and irrelevant. On the other hand those who welcome change and be fortunate enough to be the pioneers of change, find themselves greatly rewarded.
It is when preparation meets opportunity that success is certain! Eric Hoffer once said, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists”.
Enemies of leadership change!

lResistance: Warren Benis in his book called On Becoming a Leader (1989: 172) affirms, “Resisting change is as futile as resisting weather

. . .” Leadership that is stuck to tradition has led some institutions to bankruptcy.

lFear: Some leaders fear to give up power, take risk, to be challenged and even inquire from those who could know better, but at a lower rank.

lNot growing and grooming other people into leadership: The sure way of leaving a legacy and increased results is to inspire, train and grow more leaders.

lNot planning the exit strategy: Passing the baton is important if the organisation is to survive after your death. Vision should not be limited to your own lifetime and to perpetuate it, you have to impart it to others.

lLack of enthusiasm and curiosity: You should be enthused to see change not only in you, but in others you lead. Appreciate and reward those that are instrumental in the change of the organisation.

lStopping to learn: A best leader is an avid reader. To stop learning is simply to stop growing.

lKnowing it all: There are some leaders who “know-it-all”. It’s like there is nothing new to them. At times you need to seek for help and seek advice from others.

In my book, The Big You, I have created an acronym out of the word C.H.A.N.G.E. and it can help you to brace-up for change:
lChallenge your old traits/ thoughts;

lHarness new inventions;

lAcquire new ideas everyday;

lNavigate in virgin territories and be a leader of change;

lGear up for greater risks;

lExceed set norms and break records.

Parting Point: Harold Wilson once said “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery”. Life without change, specifically in leadership, is boring. The crown can never be given to those who stick with the crowd, but those who are willing to change and lead others into a fruitful and fulfilling future ahead!

lJonah Nyoni is an author, success coach, leadership trainer and public relations consultant.

Email: jonah@classicmail.co.zacesslife.co.zw

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