I had an exchange with a leader a while back in which he stated, “I can’t wait until things get back to normal around here.” I asked him what he meant. He said, “Well, once we get done with all this ‘change stuff’ and get back to our jobs.” If there was ever a coaching moment, this was it! I asked him to consider that what he was experiencing was, in fact, the “new normal.” He didn’t like that. Then I asked him to consider what he and his colleagues would need to do or stop doing if this was in fact their new normal. He didn’t like that either. Then I asked him to evaluate whether they (himself included) could make the personal and collective shifts necessary to lead in this new normal. A look of intense worry came over his face. “We clearly have some work to do,” he said.
It is settled law that the “Status Quo” is dead. In the 21st century business environment, change is like the weather; it just is. And the other shoe is that the pace of change is increasing. The next ten years will make the last 50 look like we’ve been standing still.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. However, I would like to pose a question: What is the implication of this reality on how we lead and conduct business in the 21st century? I believe successful change is vitally dependent upon strong leadership. Strong leadership doesn’t wait for a crisis to require change. Strong leadership creates a resilient organization with a foundation and capacity to handle any contingency that arises. This will require us to think about both change and leadership differently.
How will we build organizations that are resilient, that not only tolerate change, but thrive in it? How will we build organizations with strong and shared leadership that leads through change without missing a step? A change mindset and strong leadership skill set will be the key differentiators for organizational success in the years ahead. We clearly have some work to do.