John Kotter’s classic, Leading Change, makes a powerful distinction between management and leadership. Kotter says that management is focused on the effective maintenance of the status quo, i.e. they keep things going. In contrast, leadership is about a vision for the future; it is about moving things in a new direction.
Every organization needs both types: competent managers and effective leaders. Most human resource programs focus on management programs. Many confuse leadership development with management programs.
How are we building leader-ful organizations?
How are we ensuring that we can sustain organizations and keep them adaptive enough to a rapidly changing world?
In many ways, being an effective leader involves being able to dance with change. This is difficult when the predominant stereotype of the strong leader is one who is a bulwark against change: A strong and effective leader is one who controls such that changes are minimized, if not eliminated.
The problem is that that is not reality. Change is reality. Change is what happens, regardless of what a leader chooses to do. The best that s/he can do it to adapt to change in every moment, to roll with the proverbial punches.
Thus, a crucial and necessary stepping stone in the leadership development journey is to transform our relationship to change. We must embrace that change cannot be managed out but rather can be the access to transformation.
A mantra, or set of aspirational statements, which I’ve been practicing the past few weeks is below: