When I started writing the Rough Guide to Leadership Models and Theories, I envisaged a series of articles about the popular leadership models plus some additional insights on how these may be used in today’s organisations.
Now, at the half way point, I am having second thoughts about the application of these models for leading change.
Why is this?
Simply because many models are fundamentally about what the leader should do to improve the performance of organisations and the people who work in them. That is, they are often about changing people’s behaviour not changing the leader’s behaviour.
The Truth About Leadership Models
The truth is this:
- leadership is about change, and
- change starts with the leader.
As we have already seen, there are many different models for leading change. Some are very good, others less so.
But, they all have one common flaw. They all paint a simplified picture of change … change in complex social systems.
If you want to improve your chances of implementing large scale organisational change, just pick up a copy of Leading Change* [UK]* by John Kotter. Or, if you want to put into action a plan of continual improvement, read Reengineering the Corporation* [UK]* by Michael Hammer and Jim Champy.
Actually, don’t bother.
That won’t do the business any good.
The Truth About Leading Change
Let me be completely candid. Do you read about the latest fad or fashion — or worse still listen to the advice of the big consulting firms — before sharing some inspirational stories with everyone and pronouncing …
We are a learning organisation bla bla bla … we have an open and honest culture (yawn) … we encourage innovation and mistakes (sure you do)?
I could continue, but I think you get the gist.
This approach does not work.
These models for leading change that we often like to talk about only have value when we first change ourselves.
How can you make managers more effective? How do you convince people to take responsibility? What can you do to create a culture of trust and openness? How do you influence people to cooperate instead of completing?
The answer is straightforward.
The answer is you.
You have to change. Not the organisation, not them, not the team, nor the service, function, and business.
And, if you don’t care enough to change, don’t expect anyone else to care either.
So, here’s your challenge.
What are you going to do today about change?
What will you do to get noticed for the right reasons? How will you inspire people to follow you?
Leadership is showing the way. Leadership is so much more about what you do than what you say.
Creative Commons image courtesy Thomas Hawk.