“I don’t want to use the word ‘reorganisation’. Reorganisation to me is shuffling boxes, moving boxes around. Transformation means that you’re really fundamentally changing the way the organisation thinks, the way it responds and the way it leads. It’s a lot more than just playing with boxes” (Lou Gerstner)
Successful implementation of significant and pervasive change within organisations requires more than clever slogans, road-shows and new posters on the wall – for the intended change to be effective and to ensure everyone within the organisation behaves differently in accordance with the desired outcomes, leadership needs to transform in approach, in attitude and in style. Dean and Linda (Ackerman) Anderson, in their profound book “Beyond Change Management”, note: “Transformation is a radical shift of strategy, structure, systems, processes and/or technology, so significant that it requires a shift of culture, behaviour and mind-set to implement successfully and sustain over time”. Even though the new state of the organisation post the change implementation may be uncertain, the change process must be led deliberately and consciously. Attention needs to be given to human and cultural dynamics to transform mind-set, behaviour and culture.
Intentional change leadership (the Andersons use the term “conscious change leadership”) requires four wake-up calls – from running the organisation and its people and processes on autopilot to a conscious approach of being, working and relating. “Beyond Change Management” describes the four levels of awakening and conscious awareness as follows:
Level 1: We must change – this level is relatively simple for leaders to hear. “It is the recognition that the status quo in the organisation no longer works and that a change is required”. The company will not be sustainable if we carry on doing things in the same way.
Level 2: The change required is transformational – “this level requires that leaders understand that the process of transformation is uniquely different from that of developmental or transitional change and that deeper attention to people and the change process is required”. The change process is going to be pervasive.
Level 3: Transformation demands new strategies and practices – “the realisation that the transformation requires new strategies and practices beyond their traditional leadership and change management approaches. In other words, leaders must change what they do”. This will seem to be a bit of a stretch for many leaders. It’s tough to break out of comfort zones.
Level 4: Transformation requires me personally to operate consciously and change my mind-set, behaviour and style – the most far-reaching and eye-opening, it is “the realisation that transformation requires leaders to change personally, that they must change how they are being: expand their awareness, become more introspective and conscious, shift their mind-sets and transform their behaviours and change leadership style”.
Leaders that reach level four realise that without putting themselves overtly into their respective organisations’ change processes, the full potential of the intended transformation cannot manifest. They need to model the desired new behaviours, attitudes and performance. They choose to lead from the front and encourage others to join them in the journey.
A leader’s ability to successfully realise intended change is in direct proportion to his or her level of awareness. “Seeing systems, seeing process, seeing internal and external reality and seeing consciously have become core requirements of seeing solutions to the challenges and complexities we now face in the twenty-first century world of transformational change” (Beyond Change Management – a must-read for all leaders).