Challenging the Process & Embracing Change

In their classic books Learning Leadership and The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner describe effective leaders who “challenge the process” -- encouraging innovation, accepting and embracing change, encouraging risk taking, and rewarding new ideas.  This might seem obvious, but in everyday life and work, there is often deep resistance to change.  We are all creatures of habit, and breaking from these habits can be extraordinarily difficult.

It is human nature to avoid/resist change, but change is necessary to become a better leader or, for that matter, a better person.  Besides, the world is constantly changing so leaders need to change to lead business adaptation to an evolving environment – change is not really an option!  (The once highly successful Kodak is one of many examples of businesses who were unable to grasp this key truth.)

So how do we get there?   First, of course, is painting a picture of what you want the change to be so both you and those you lead understand where you are going and why.  Then comes the process of laying out the steps to get there and internalizing the discipline to sustain forward progress.

Courageously embracing the positive possibilities of risk-taking and change is a vital leadership skill as is effectively managing the ambiguity and challenge associated with change and risk taking.

For Further Thought:   Are you stuck in a place that is not working as well as you would like?  What is holding you back from challenging the process? What changes would you like to see and what steps could you take to get there?  Take some time this week, to write down 2-3 changes you would like to make in your personal life or as a leader.  Jot down what is holding you back and then some ideas of practical steps you could make to overcome that resistance.  Come back to this list a few days later and try to make a plan that you think will really work for you.

As a leader, you have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Don’t underestimate your impact!

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Douglass Teschner