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Leading Change by Being Visionary (Leading Self, series 3)

By Elaine Cercado

Leading change is a true relationship management issue.

If navigating change individually is difficult, you can only imagine the challenge associated with guiding others through the uncertainty of change and its associated transitional journey.

In the workplace, the process of change often creates a human drama with the players acting out two different roles.

  • One role is enacted by those who are initiating or driving the change. These initiators of change are often perceived as having higher levels of authority within the organization. It has been said that organizations are great at creating change but bad at managing or implementing. This is because when those in authority initiate change, they often expect growth to be linear, moving from high productivity to even higher productivity.
  • This expectation fails to take into account the other role in the human drama—those driven by the recipients or implementers of the change. Those in this role are expected to be good followers of change but they often feel victim to decisions made from on high.

“People do not resist change, they resist being changed.”

Those who wish to lead change quickly learn that it is not easy to drive others into transition. In reality, productivity, and even morale, often hit a low point before moving up the learning curve to that place where performance and morale exceeds the conditions that were in place before change was initiated.

During times of change, visionary change leaders understand both the depths and the heights of performance, morale, and productivity, so they are uniquely positioned to guide others.

One of the ways to develop the being visionary is through relational thinking, which I explained in detail in last week’s article Staying Motivated through Relational Thinking (Leading Self, series 2)”.

To practice being visionary through relational thinking, a clear picture of your values, your purpose, and your interests is a pre-requisite.

I’d like to share personal experiences and my learnings about leading self through changes by being visionary using relational thinking.

>> From Manila, our family relocated to Malaysia in 1997 and then to Singapore in 2000 due to international assignments by our global MNC employers. As a family, we have defined “continuous growth” as a value. These relocations were big bold life-changing career, family and cultural moves. But had we not taken the opportunities and risks that went with it, we might be where we are today. As a famous quote says: Growth happens outside our comfort zone.

>> I shifted from sales in 1988,  then to various regional leadership roles in 1997, before embarking into consulting, training and coaching in 2008. Every new role and shift was a scary path I took. I learned that my passion for these new roles and opportunities were not enough.  Alignment to my purpose, continuously learning, getting my hands dirty, being courageous and resilient helped a lot. As the saying goes: There is no fruit that is bitter until it is ripe.

>> At my first job, my German MNC employer was acquired and resulted to layoffs, which included my role. In my last corporate stint, our division was divested globally, which resulted to a new company.  In the first company, I was a receiver of the news, and in the last stint, I was the giver and implementer of the change. In both occasions, the changes were beyond my control, but I learned that what was important was how I responded to these changes and challenges.  In my last stint, being the ASEAN regional leader, I was personally interested and invested to see my people in the region feel positive and to embrace change. So my own quote from this experience is:There is no one size that fits all.  People will react or respond differently to every change. If you are the giver or implementer of the change, personalise your approach to every person affected by change. Negativity is contagious – and so is Positivity!

If you are going through organizational, team or individual change journeys, I hope you will find your own voice in leading yourself and others in today’s continuous waves of change!

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Reference: Original material by Karl Mulle, © 2015 Association for Talent Development (ATD)

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