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Can a Leader Fix an Environment Quickly or Only Through Gradual Change?
Meaningful, positive, and comprehensive change is a gradual process. It takes time to adapt to the ideas and equilibrium change brings. It may take more time still to buy into the values of the change. Leadership coaching can help leaders make quick differences, however, by setting achievable, short-term goals that help overcome resistance to change.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you, the leader, could come in and stir immediate change, thus reviving an ailing organization? That’s not how reality works. Reality has a rhythm of its own, and it seems to be averse to change.
Leaders who think they can have an immediate impact are not wrong. There are small changes they can make immediately that can set them up to succeed down the line. However, it takes time to create the meaningful, deep, visible change required to turn an organization around.
Change takes time.
Overcoming the Innate Resistance to Change
Why does meaningful change require so much time? Human nature holds most of the answers to that question.
As I have detailed in my leadership coaching works, resistance to change is a fundamental human feature with a well-justified presence from an evolutionary perspective.
The human mind equates the status quo and the comfort zone with safety. Change, however, equals challenge, discomfort, and uncertainty. It always carries the possibility of failure. When success or failure is a life-or-death question, the evolutionary role of change-averseness is obvious. In the context of work, business, and leadership, this human instinct becomes a liability.
Business coaching teaches leaders how to embrace change and address resistance to change on the part of others. Intelligent leaders are agents of change in their organizations and know how change works.
The Nature of Gradual Change
In nature and in life, meaningful change is seldom sudden, but it is present all around us at all times.
On your way to financial or professional success, you know you will have to sacrifice some aspects of your life and your old self. Sacrifice makes change possible in some ways, but we have to choose our sacrifice carefully.
You may decide to stay up two hours later to put in extra work. Soon, you may find yourself staying up every night chasing a goal you deem worthy. Before you know it, your body is sending you signs of distress. Since you don’t find them disruptive, you choose to ignore them. One day, you break down. You’re a shell of your former self, and your good health is a distant memory.
Although change tends to happen “one day”, it drops many clues prior. Small things happen that set you on the path to change and give you feedback on your progress.
That is how intelligent leaders manage and bring about change. Executive coaching professionals tout the significance of taking small steps and conquering achievable goals. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
The Lure of the Low-Hanging Fruit
As a leader, you can facilitate change and reduce resistance to it in ways that exert immediate effects.
Aim for small, achievable goals first.
Empowering Junior Leaders and Decentralizing Leadership
Organizational effectiveness and productivity rely heavily on efficient, active, and empowered junior leaders and employees. Empowerment increases engagement and reduces employee turnover.
By handing managers the tool of decision-making, leaders empower them to create and propose innovative solutions to problems, becoming the motors of organizational change. Knowing and understanding the organizational purpose and values while having the authority to address poor performance and influence key decisions allows junior leaders to assume psychological ownership of the organizational purpose.
Holding Managers and Employees Accountable
A culture of accountability should go hand-in-hand with employee and manager empowerment. Instilling such a culture is a goal leaders can achieve relatively quickly. Reward those who deliver real results and replace those that don’t. The recipe is simple, and it makes a significant long-term difference.
Assessing and Reassessing Programs
Once implemented, programs require constant attention and assessment. As a leader, you must know how your programs work and whether they are effective and valid.
Tiny changes like these constitute the foundation of larger future achievements. As we implement small changes, we adapt to the ideas and new equilibriums large changes entail. We also allow ourselves to buy into the values that define change.