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When an organization is going through a transformation process, it is to a large extent the leaders and the leadership that will determine if this change will be successful or not. Leaders because they have great power to impact the organization by the way they are leading. Leadership, the approach, since it creates a culture that is an invisible glue that holds the organization together. Organizations that want their transformation process to become successful will need a culture of leadership that invites everyone to take leadership, not only those in leadership positions. This culture will be not only be needed in the transformation process but always, since change is not ending just because the process in the organization is over. The time is gone when it was possible to sustainably solve problems through reorganization. Today conditions are constantly changing. An organization needs to utilize their whole competence to navigate and find the golden nuggets in the always new sceneries.
Leaders have the power to support or counteract the transformation process in the organization through their way of leading. When they step into their leadership position and create a culture of leadership, they will set the standard for how well the organization will achieve its mission. I don´t say it is easy to exercise this power. There could be restrictions decided at other levels in the organization or in an environment on which the organization is dependent, that could make it difficult to create a larger area for action for the people in the organization. This is does not have to crucial. A culture of leadership will work as long as the boundaries are clear and so that everyone knows what restrictions they need to address. People will then use the space that is available within the restrictions that comes from for example legislation, business directives or budget.
My experience from many years of change work is that the leaders and their view of leadership often is crucial for how long-lasting a change will be. Most leaders encourage their people to learn new methods and approaches as a support to the organizational transformation. Many of them unfortunately choose to learn and develop themselves elsewhere, separately from the organization they are leading. This could make it impossible for them to see the wholeness and understand the foundation for new approaches used by their people. It has even happened that when the staff has started using new methods, leaders have closed the whole process and called their approach obscure. I don´t think that they consciously want to create the frustration and resistance that will be the outcome of their actions. Rather it is their old accustomed leadership behavior, their “default mode” that strikes when they are concerned.
Preconceptions that counteract change
There are a few preconceptions in the current leadership paradigm, that counteracts successful organizational transformations. One such fashion word is governance or steering, where the assumption leads the thoughts towards a driver, who by only slightly turning the steering wheel can have the whole organization drive in another direction. The concept of steering brings many control functions along, many different features, that a leader is expected to handle in a coordinated way, and by using them lead the organization toward its goal. When looked at from this perspective, a leader who does not have control could be regarded as unsuccessful. Then it is not that strange that leaders who have not participated in the development of their people and feel a lack of control, could become afraid of failure.
Making transformation successful
A leader who want the transformation process in their organization to be successful among other things has to think about these two things:
Change starts from within and if leaders want the transformation to become sustainable they can´t stay on the outside. They instead need to be a part of the change they want to see and they will make things easier for themselves when they participate in the development process together with their people.
Changing leadership approach is a process that in addition to knowledge, experience and practice need a supportive structure. When the demands are too high you will need an anchoring point to be able to not return to default mode. Regular short meetings where you can discuss approach and work methods could be an anchoring point. Those meetings allow both for course adjustments and the celebration of achievements.
Genuine Contact Mentoringcircles
Mentoring circles are an integrated and important part of the Genuine Contact program. We regularly create anchoring points, both online and locally for those who have chosen to work with this new extraordinary leadership paradigm. From my experience I know that when you choose an approach that is different from the current leadership philosophy with steering and control, it is easy that your own old ideas will show up and create a mess in stressed situations. Then you need a place where you can find yourself again and return to your chosen path.