Imagine driving the motorway at rush hour blinkered or shutting your eyes to the traffic altogether, determined to plow through to your destination. You couldn’t possibly expect to get there safely and would likely create havoc along the way.
Not being able to see all of the signals and forces at play in your chaotic environment would make the journey impossible. How would you navigate? Maybe, if you were on a straight road with no cars or obstacles, you might drive some distance with only minor mishaps. But driving rush hour motorways is a constantly changing experience – fast-paced, unpredictable and uncontrollable, much like leading transformational change.
Historically, organisational leaders defined their role as determining the destination of their change and then delegating the ”driving“ to someone else. That was all well and good when their destinations were clear and the roads were open and well marked. Eventually, when executives began to feel the sting of not being able to get their organisations to reach their predetermined targets, they began to recognise that success required attention to things they previously had not seen, understood or valued as important: the human and process challenges of change. These new insights broadened their view of what was necessary to lead change and gave rise to the field of change management.
This is progress in the right direction. However, leaders and consultants have not gone far enough. There are still too many blinkers impairing leaders’ views of how to navigate change. It is time to take the blinkers off and become fully awake at the wheel. Leaders and consultants both need to understand and embrace the next evolution in the field – change leadership.