Management makes a system work. It helps you do what you know how to do. Leadership builds systems or transforms old ones.
Many organizations still rely on the old school model of managing change, without the understanding of bringing change leadership into the equation. In the past century, thousands of large organizations were created, with a problem being that there were not enough good managers to keep the bureaucracies functioning. So many companies and universities developed management programs, and hundreds and thousands of people were encouraged to learn management on the job. Very few people were taught leadership. Management was the main item on the 20th Century agenda because that was what was needed. To explain the difference between the two:
- Planning and Budgeting
- Organizing and staffing
- Controlling and problem solving
This style produces a degree of predictability and order and has the potential to consistently produce the short-term results expected by various stakeholders.
- Establishing direction
- Aligning people
- Motivating and inspiring
This style produces change, often to a dramatic degree, and has the potential to produce extremely useful change.
Managing change is important. Without competent management, the transformation process can get out of control. But for most organizations, the much bigger challenge is leading change.
Most common mistakes when it comes to change initiatives
- Allowing too much complacency
One of the biggest mistakes made in change efforts is organizations plunge ahead without establishing a high enough sense of urgency in fellow managers and employees. There are many reasons why sufficient urgency is created – People overestimate how much they can force big changes on an organization, they underestimate how hard it is to drive people out of their comfort zones, they don’t recognize how their own actions can reinforce the status quo, they lack patience, they confuse urgency with anxiety.
- Failing to create a sufficiently powerful change leadership group
In the most successful change initiatives, the leadership group is always powerful – in terms of formal titles, information and expertise, reputations and relationships, and the capacity for leadership. Failure here is usually associated with underestimating the difficulties in producing change and thus the importance of a strong leadership team.
- Underestimating the power of a strong vision
Vision plays a key role in producing useful change by helping to direct, align, and inspire actions on the part of a large number of people. Without an appropriate vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing, incompatible, and time consuming projects that go in the wrong direction, or nowhere at all.
- Under communication of the vision
Big change in organizations is usually impossible unless most employees are willing to help, often to the point of making short term sacrifices. People will not make sacrifices unless they think the potential benefits of change are attractive and unless they really believe that a change is possible. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, employee’s hearts and minds are never captured.
- Permitting obstacles to block the new vision
New change initiatives fail far too often when employees, even though they embrace a new vision, feel dis-empowered by huge obstacles in their path. Eg, Organizational structures, narrow job categories, compensation or performance-appraisal systems which can force employees to choose between the new vision and their own self-interests, or supervisors who refuse to adapt to new circumstances and who make demands which are inconsistent with the new change efforts.
- Failing to create short term wins
Real change in business takes time. There is a real risk that momentum will be lost if there are no short term goals to meet and celebrate. Most people will not go on the long march unless they see compelling evidence within six to eighteen months that the journey is producing expected results.
- Declaring victory too soon
While celebrating a win is fine, any suggestion that the job is mostly done is generally a terrible mistake. Until changes sink down deeply into a culture, which for the entire company can take years, new approaches are fragile and subject to regression.
- Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture
Changes stick only when it becomes “the way we do things around here”, when it seeps into the very bloodstream of the business. Until new behaviours are rooted in social norms and shared values, they are always subject to degradation as soon as the pressures associated with a change effort are removed.