Are you moving boxes around? Several authors on leadership and change pose this important question in Leadership and Change magazine #2. Are we working on changes that matter? Do we make a difference as change-makers, leaders, consultants, HR professionals, or coaches?
“The duty of a leader is to help create a virtuous, kind organization”
Kim Cameron, professor and associate dean at the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship from the University of Michigan, just published a new book: Practicing Positive Leadership. Time for an interview.
Last June, I guided the Culture, Change & Leadership workshop in Zwolle, the Netherlands. We shared 3 inspirational days while we practiced with the WHAT, the HOW and the WHO of change... What struck me again is our tendency to cling to control. Even as conscious consultants, it is not always easy to be fully present in the moment and to respond to what is emerging - if that differs from your own “WHAT”: your pre-suppositions, goals and expectations. While the real magic in change happens when you go with the flow...and trust the process: the HOW. But for that to happen, you need to be WHO you are.
Mid-Summer in the Northern hemisphere. It seems a natural point to take a break - to relax and reflect on the first half of the year. Just before summer recess, I attended one of the bi-annual conferences of the International Society of Organizational Development & Change (ISODC). Approximately fifty OD professionals traveled to Amsterdam from all over the world for a conference with pre- and post-conference workshops. The program covered a wide array of topics (by different presenters) such as global leadership development, e-learning, women development in Rwanda, global OD, management on the mat (yoga and management), trans-cultural competence, cultural dilemmas, servant leadership, innovation, fostering cultures of creativity, health and vitality in organizations, change programs in the digital age, open space for societal change - and whatnot.
Last week, we did the Culture, Change & Leadership workshop in Zwolle, the Netherlands. We shared 3 intense days in a group of 14 people from 8 countries. It was awesome and amazing. Did we encounter cultural diversity? Yes - but in an inspirational way, showing different variations or angles to the same challenge. We learned a great deal from exchanging our cases. What stood our for me is how alike we humans really are. No one likes to be ordered about. People don't like top-down imposed, "command and control change" everywhere around the globe, but they will respond to the pressure in different ways.
In my earlier blog post I discussed how to use Change Circles for Organization Development and Change. We discussed Scharmer’s 3 levels of conversation that determine innovation and organizational performance: Downloading, Debate and Dialogue. Let’s continue with an example of organization development through dialogue and change circles.
If you’ve seen my book, you know my approach to successful change and leadership: I recommend to include and engage all employees and make change personal, practical and focused on behaviors in circles of 10 coworkers.
Why is it so hard to give feedback? Why do we hesitate to say what we think? Why do we stay silent when we’d be more effective if we spoke up? There are many reasons and yet they can be summarized in two words: fear and culture.
Most organizations are still ruled by top-down control. This used to work well in the 20th Century. People had clearly defined jobs in a well-structured hierarchy. If you worked hard, you could expect to climb up the ladder and one day, take your boss’ seat. The CEO on top could see change coming from far away and adjusted strategy and structure in time to survive. The pace of change was slower and the impact of change somehow smaller. It wasn’t everything connected with everything leading to unpredictable outcomes 24/7 at high speed. It somehow looked like a more linear world - even though it wasn’t!