Encouraging Comfort with Change – The Challenge for Today’s Leader

Now there are two words that don’t belong together – comfort and change!  Authors O’Connor and Fiol, in a 2006 article titled ‘Handling Emotional Reactions to Change’, cite research that links common negatively viewed emotions to change: fear, insecurity, loss of control, separation or isolation, frustration, and anxiety.  Hardly sounds like the dictionary’s definition of ‘comfort’: ‘something that adds to one’s ease of living’, does it? Continue reading

Are You Handling Change as an Event or as the Steady State?

“Here’s the situation,” said Steve, the CEO of a medium-sized health care organization with multiple locations.  “We’re not dealing with just one enormous change at a time any more.  We can’t fully adapt ourselves to one before we have to get everyone ready for the next one.  And there are three more – that we know of – waiting in the wings and dependent on the success of the current ones.  Even though we try to do a good job of change management, and bringing people in on the changes, we can’t slow down the train to be that deliberate with each change.  We’ve got to become unconsciously competent at absorbing change.” Continue reading

Great Leaders Lift All the Boats

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” —Ralph Nader

If great leaders are great because they aspire to a purpose greater than themselves (see What Really Makes a Great Leader?), the greatest of leaders aspire to achieving that purpose by developing more leaders in the process.  They create the proverbial tides that lift all the boats.  These greatest of leaders make a habit of giving away their leadership assets: the knowledge, instincts, lessons, contacts and resources that helped them to succeed. Their conscious goal is to build a new generation of leaders who are, if anything, better than the leaders who preceded them – better, even, than those who are teaching them. Continue reading

What Really Makes a Great Leader?

Certain leaders stand out.  Magazines like Fortune and Time seek out the best each year.  Often, even as we glance at the pictures, we nod our heads in approval.  CNN locates ‘heroes’, and though they’re not known to us, we agree when we hear their stories that they are inspirational leaders.  What resonates so universally that we all can agree that there are great leaders among us?

Gary Burnison, CEO at Korn/Ferry International, recently wrote a blog post about the Fortune Top 50 leaders.  In it, he observed that the most respected leaders are defined by a mission larger than themselves.  “The point is,” he said, “that a mission, or purpose, actually humbles great leaders.” Continue reading

Leadership in a Sound Bite Society

Recently published research highlights some sobering, if not surprising, changes in the attention span of humans in first-world societies:  from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013, now less than that of the average goldfish.  Picture us as those little bug-eyed fish flitting randomly from one side of the fish tank to the other with no seeming destination in mind.  Does it seem at all familiar?

We could explore at length the difficulties for successful work achievement of this change in focus and concentration ability.  But for you as leaders, the challenge is exceptional.  How can we lead when attention span is the length of a Tweet? Continue reading