Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Insights

A Question for Leadership: How much change can you handle?

Written by Andrew McCune | Nov 17, 2017 3:46:00 PM

How much change can you handle?

A question for the leader for sure. There are a lot of questions for leaders, and some of the questions are in the form of an unspoken expectation. “Can you hit that number?” is “We want you to hit that number”, and so the goal is set – because there is confidence you can do it. In some cases, a goal is simply achieved by rigorous execution. Perhaps some scaling of staff capacity, but essentially, the goal is achieved by more of the same. On the other hand, the goals that require new capacity and capability to attain, this is change. 

So, how much change can you handle? As leaders develop, their desire to take on more grows, learning occurs, and it begins to show. This desire can manifest as a self-actualization to personally lead the drive to new behavior and check all the details. This becomes very fulfilling, and is similar to the adrenalin rush a physical activity, accompanied by the euphoric afterglow as the outcome of a series of complex efforts concludes. After repeated cycles of the signal, a challenging complex effort, followed by a rewarding denouement, a habit is formed. This habit becomes part of how the leader leads.

Is this a problem? Well, it might be as it just depends. Smart, highly motivated leaders, with a habit of operating at high emotional levels, or driving a high volume of tasks for themselves and those they lead, can be a problem. The problem is a leader can sprint ahead, and wind up so far ahead, no one is with them. In fact, everyone else has lost sight of them, and can’t distinguish them from friend or foe.

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Clearly, when this happens, the leader has great horsepower to change, but winds up leaving the people behind.

By contrast, a leader who tempers the self-actualization, charts a course that is aggressive, makes adjustments along the way, but doesn’t leave everyone behind, is on the path to success. Staying a step ahead as the leader is sufficient to be out front without being mistaken as an advisory.

Being self-aware of yourself as a leader, as you grow your capabilities, and tempering yourself is a formula to understand how much change you can handle. This ultimately can help you be a more effective leader bringing success to launching new capacity and capabilities in the organization.

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Andrew S. McCune
Senior Process Consultant, Engagement Director
Strategy Deployment, Operational Excellence, Change Management