Friday, 29 November 2013

Leaders Driving Culture Change

Two of my clients have engaged me in consulting on Culture Change in their organisations by requesting a re-invention/re-freshing of the organisation culture in line with their growth strategies.

Culture is “the way we do things around here”. To change culture requires new habits. We all know what that is like and how tough it is as individuals to change our habits so to collectively change to new habits requires tremendous effort.

In both projects we are using John Kotter’s well know 8 step change model.

To drive this change requires leadership presence and passion. My nine year old daughter recently said : “Dad even when you are at home you are not here”. This was obviously a wake-up call for me.

I can see how important it is for leaders to be present with staff and their organisation in driving change and results.

It has been amazing to see one of the leaders with so much passion and enthusiasm to engage their staff in embracing the change. The challenge as always is to keep that passion and drive throughout. In both cases the clients have committed 18 months to the process which is admirable as they want to (as Kotter says) make the changes stick (Step Eight).

Each Kotter stage requires a different kind of energy. The analysis stage created a sense of enquiry and making sense of the world. The (Crafting of the) Vision stage demanded creativity and en-dreaming of the future. The enabling action stage is tough as it means now the rubber hits the road and the real hard graft starts. Communicating for buy-in means the leader needs to find different fuel to keep communicating with the same passion that they had initially and reflecting the same belief they had upfront.

All in all leadership requires drive, tenacity and determination to succeed even when others are flagging but to ensure that the coalitions stay with them running at the same or similar pace and with the same stamina otherwise the leader will burn out together with the initiatives.

Gavin Coetzee is a successful Leadership and Change Consultant from CapeTown.

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