Change: The Difference Between Managers and Leaders

Leaders and change go together, because change is what leaders are there for. Otherwise the organization can just be endlessly "managed," because yesterday's practices could simply be replicated. But conditions change and yesterday's ways of doing things no longer fit today's conditions. They require change.

That's why the leader sets up a task force, and that group puts together a plan that lays out what needs to be done, when and by whom. When they have done that, all that seems to be left is for the organization to implement the plan. Many leaders imagine that to make a change work, people only need to follow the plan's implicit "map," which shows how to get from here (where things stand now) to there (where they'll stand after the plan has been implemented). "There" is also where the organization needs things to be if it is to survive, so anyone who has looked at the situation with a halfway open mind can see that the change isn't optional. It is essential.

But then why don't people (in the immortal words of Nike commercials) Just Do It? And what is the leader supposed to do when they Just Don't Do It? When people do not make the changes that need to be made, when deadlines are missed, costs over-run the budget, and valuable workers get so frustrated that they resist? Change doesn’t happen easily.

It is essential for the leadership team to be exemplars of change and transition in order to be able to effectively implement and lead the rest of the group through this process.  As Gandhi said “Be the change you would like to see.” Do you or the leaders in your organization need help setting that example? It may be time to explore leadership coaching for your organization.