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Effective Leadership for a Business in Fluctuation

Big Think Edge | July 03, 2018

In the middle of a publicity crisis, employee turnover, new leadership, or another business disruption, effective management that leads change serves as the calm in the storm. Solid management provides stability and comfort to employees during a time when they may feel like nothing is reliable or dependable.

Metathesiophobia, or the fear of change, is a genuine fear for many people, and it makes embracing change difficult because it represents an unknown element or situation. However, change management leaders can help their employees navigate the turbulent waters of change by serving as the lighthouse that guides their way.

Understanding Why Change Occurs and How to Implement It

The frequency in which changes are taking place within organizations has been increasing rapidly due to technology and globalization. John Kotter, a Big Think expert and a world leader of management and change in business, says that change comes in various forms and occurs more frequently in substantial manifestations.

Kotter says that the first step in the eight-step process for leading change is to create a sense of urgency. In his Big Think video “Using Urgency and Envy to Catalyze Change,” Kotter describes urgency as an intellectual belief that great opportunities for change exist, and a determination to get up every day to do something that will help take advantage of those opportunities.

As it turns out, if you don’t have enough people with that frame of mind, it’s like putting up a tall building, and you don’t put in the — what is it, the pylons deep enough. They really are the structure that supports everything. That keeps things moving around. That gets people into it in a ‘want to,’ not a ‘have to’ frame of mind.”

Kotter developed an eight-step process for leading change known as the Kotter Change Model (which has been updated from a previous model he created in the mid-90s):

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

Embracing Change Management from the Top Down

Change management helps organizations respond to change drivers (people or situations that instigate change) in a planned and organized manner.

Big Think expert, management consultant, and futurist Lisa Bodell says that what holds people back from effective change is a change-resistant mindset and assumptions.

Bodell says that the reason people in business (and in general) are so resistant to change is that:

“A lot of people are becoming risk-averse because so much is on the line. They are skeptical because the unknown is obviously more frightening than the known… So shifting the mindset to seeing possibilities, what could happen versus what's wrong with something, keeps an idea alive. And, that’s very important in terms of getting people in the mindset for change: Don't shut something down before you give it a fair chance.”

Bodell says that assumptions hold us back from addressing problems. Effective leaders need to help their employees change their assumptions so they can begin to see possibilities for change. However, she warns, change has to be made with employees rather than forcing it on them:

“Change must be supported from the top down. But, where change happens is from the middle out… Those are the ones that are going to be creating the change; they're the ones that have to be in power to do it.”

To learn more about how to employ change management processes or lead change in the workplace, check out the Big Think Edge video learning program “Change Management.” The program features renowned industry experts like Jon Iwata (Senior Vice President of Communications & Marketing, IBM), Jim Collins (business consultant and author), and Lisa Bodell (Founder and CEO, Futurethink). Click on the image banner below to learn how to find this course or another Big Think Edge video learning program that is the right fit for your organization.

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