Navigating the Unseen: Enhancing Organic Change Leadership for Lasting Transformation

Change leadership. How do I do it better?

I promised a client that I would offer some thoughts on this question this week. Most of us now accept that change is a permanent feature of the context in which we work. How to help people navigate this new context has become critical skill for leaders.

I would probably start by distinguishing Mechanical from Organic change leadership (Jeremy Sweeney, 2020). Mechanical change is the structural, process improvements that can be made to an organisation to affect change. Most leaders are comfortable with this one.

Organic change deals with the hidden beliefs, values, norms and mindsets of people, shaped by personal and professional histories, that ultimately drive behaviour. This is often messy and difficult to define and address, and a common reason why change efforts often fail. Most leaders are uncomfortable in this space.

So we might sharpen the question to: “Organic change leadership. How do I do it better?”

Here’s one thought. What if your knee-jerk response to people struggling with change were to:
1. Empathise.
Try to understand how they feel without solving anything. Be curious.

2. Normalise.
Share a personal story that illustrates your own or others’ struggles with change.

3. Strategise.
Help them come to terms with that change is here to stay. Explore how they might flourish within this new context.

What are your thoughts?

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