One of the most difficult challenges many staff teams face is a leader who has new ideas on a frequent basis. Those new ideas can set off a chain of changes that reverberate through the staff and organization as there is a scramble to implement the newest version of the leader's vision or strategy.

Any change that comes from the top impacts the organization. And changes are absolutely necessary from time to time. 

The challenge comes when a leader frequently tries new ideas as they seek the holy grail of organizational success without understanding the disorienting nature of what they think are simple (and brilliant) ideas. 

For the leader, the new solution seems obvious and simple. For staff, the new solution often creates frustration as their prior efforts to implement the last great idea are now supplanted by the need to scrap that work and work on a new strategy. This can create cynicism among staff who scramble to keep up with the latest strategy. Sometimes those new ideas are called the "flavor of the month" as staff knows there will be a new idea soon.

Resisting this temptation is part of the maturity growth of a leader.

This is not about resisting change. It is about being wise and managing change properly. How one does change management matters because many are impacted. Frequent changes indicate that the leader himself/herself is not clear as to where they are going. Lack of clarity in the mind of a leader is problematic!

A leader who frequently changes their mind or strategies often has not done the hard work of clarifying the organization's direction. Clarity of the organization's identity and what they are about must always precede strategies. When strategies come without organizational clarity, you simply get chaos as leaders throw ideas at the wall to see what may or may not stick. 

Wise leaders are clear on who the organization is and where it is going. In addition, they vet any proposed changes with other leaders to ensure that they have considered the unintended consequences of their decisions. And, they talk candidly with those who will be affected by the new direction so that staff is not taken by surprise. 

In my leadership history, I have waited up to a year to make a proposed change until I knew I had the support and understanding of the leadership team. I learned that I could not make unilateral changes but needed the wisdom and support of those around me to negotiate change successfully. That helped ensure I didn't act precipitously and create organizational whiplash. The counsel of others kept me from making changes too quickly, but I had to learn to work with my senior team rather than make unilateral decisions.

Clarity and care in the change process are part of a leader's maturity growth. Guided change based on clear objectives can keep leaders from creating whiplash with their staff. 

  • Feb 28, 2023
  • Category: News
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