What does it take for leaders to thrive in change? Warren Bennis in his wonderful book “On Becoming a Leader” has identified ten factors for personal and organizational characteristics for coping with change, and creating learning organizations. Here are the ten factors with my take on each.
Leaders manage the dream – The first step of a leader is to communicate vision. The vision is something that excites the team into action. The leader should also be involved in recruiting, rewarding, retraining and reorganizing. Managing the dream is critical because people will forget the big picture unless the leader keeps reinforcing the vision.
Leaders embrace error – All great leaders understand that mistakes will be made. They should welcome failure and errors. Make sure you don’t go for perfection and go for excellence instead. Great leaders encourage risk.
Leaders encourage reflective backtalk – This means you surround yourself with people who will provide genuine constructive feedback. This is important for a leader to grow.
Leaders encourage dissent – This means you are open to criticism from the team. You encourage people to speak up. As Jim Collins mentioned in his seminal work “Good to Great” engage in vigorous debate not coercion.
Leaders possess the Nobel factor optimism faith and hope – Leaders ensure they project an air of optimism. As it is there is enough negativity to go around so as a leader you should make sure you communicate optimism. Look for the good in every setback and always keep the larger vision in mind.
Leaders embrace the Pygmalion effect in management – This means you always project positive expectations for the team. Your team will rise to the expectations you have for them.
Leaders have the Gretsky factor a certain touch – Wayne Gretzky famously said “I don’t go where the puck is but go where the puck is going to be.” Leaders understand where the organization is going to be in the future and drive their decisions based on that.
Leaders see the long view – Obviously the leaders have a long term view of life and the way things are going to turn up. This is important because unless you have a long term view you will encounter temporary setbacks which can derail you.
Leaders understand stakeholder symmetry – Begin with the end in mind but be prepared for every crisis on the way. This means keep all stakeholders internal and external in mind. Communicate with all stakeholders and ensure there are no surprises.
Leaders create strategic alliances and partnerships – Leaders think globally and understand that partnership with like-minded organizations is important to move forward in the future.
Finally Warren Bennis says the next generation of leaders will have the following in common. They are Broad education ,Boundless curiosity, Boundless enthusiasm, Contagious optimism, Belief in people and teamwork, Willingness to take risks, Devotion to long-term growth rather than short-term profit, Commitment to excellence, Adaptive capacity, Empathy, Authenticity, Integrity, and Vision. If we even half of these we will lead incredibly well.
There you have it the 10 factors that will help you cope with change, forge a new future and create learning organizations.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.