Times of Change: Leadership and Culture

The world is transforming, so do individuals, businesses and societies at an unprecedented speed. Every morning, we woke up into a new world which asks us to think again how we embrace change. Times of change also make it crystal clear those who can lead the change vs those who struggle with it. There are some common themes in those who fail to lead the change: Assuming Change is just about knowledge & training (Must Read: Prosci ADKAR model), getting surprised by resistance,  ignoring that change is a process and falling into the illusion of skipping steps will speed up adoption; and misunderstanding the position of management vs leadership. And many more.. But in this article, I just want to focus on one of them: Management vs Leadership and the Leadership Styles and Culture.

There is a very nice statement of John Kotter from Harvard which is one of the first themes of this article, the importance of leadership and the culture they drive during times of change: A paralyzed senior management often comes from having too many managers and not enough leaders. Management’s mandate is to minimize risk and to keep the current system operating. Change, by definition, requires creating a new system, which in turn always demand leadership. Change requires Leaders, lots of them. Leadership skills have never been so important.

The second question is about Leadership styles and the culture we drive as leaders. Sometimes we hear the cliches people are calling themselves as Transformational Leader or Servant Leader etc.. What those leaders are missing is that Leadership styles are like a toolbox and you need to have different styles in your toolbox for all the time, the art part of Leadership. You leverage different styles depending on the culture you want to have in your organization. In other words, the culture you want to build drives the leadership style you need to have, not the other way around:

Culture of Inclusion requires Servant Leadership, whereas Culture of Innovation requires a Participative Leadership and Culture of Inspiration bringing the need for Transformational Leadership and the Culture of Consistency bringing the need for more Directive Leadership. One size does not fit all!

We are living in times of change, everything is becoming more agile and flexible; the same holds for Leadership styles. Leaders need to become more flexible and creative leveraging all their Leadership toolbox. If there is one thing that is for sure; Leadership is becoming more important than anything to build the culture of embracing change. Let me finish this short article with a very nice quote from Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” We should be the leaders of the change. Time to sail away from the safe harbor!