Leading and Living through Change

Life happens.

Things don’t always go according to plan.

No wonder John Lennon, and some wise people before him have said, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.”

And yet when the unexpected happens, it invariably throws us and we react.

Our reactions

Depending on the nature of the surprise and the change we have to deal with, our reactions vary.

It can range from being shocked to “how did all this happen?” As a senior leader put it, “I was blindsided and did not see this one coming at all!”

Other common reactions include anger, blame and bargaining (If only…), resistance and denial to finally acceptance and hope.

Understanding the process

Early in my career, in my work as a Clinical Psychologist, I was working with people going through profound change including grief and loss.  We often drew from the wisdom of Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”

Getting out of the depths takes time and we need to allow our inner being to be able to do this. But this is not always easy!

Change in Organisations 

Given the VUCA world we operate in now, change is a constant.   We have barely adapted to one major organisational/industry change when other is on the way.

Actually, it is even more than this.  We are having to deal with multiple shifts and changes simultaneouly.

If I look back to the ninties working as a consultant in large scale change management projects, we used to run workshops  on “Being change ready.”

This almost seems an outdated concept now as change like our mobile phones is  almost always, ON!

SARAH Model

This popular model which we use in the business setting reminds us of the different stages of the change response:

·      Shock

·      Anger

·      Resistance

·      Acceptance, and

·      Healing/Hope

Manager/ Leader challenge

If you are a manager/leader it can be triply challenging as you deal with the change yourself and having to lead and manage teams and the organisation at the same time.

Being patient and mindful that people have different processing time and supporting people through the various stages above is vital…..whilst at the same time keeping the momentum of the required change happening!

Another leadership paradox to learn and live!

Navigating the depths

So how about you?

How do you best deal with change, especially when it is not of your making and gets imposed on you?

Can you draw on a time when you were able to come through the change even stronger?  When you thrived not just survived?

What emotionally intelligent attitude and behaviours enabled this?

I look forward to your thoughts and experience of this.

Afterthought:  A conversation between Swami Vivekanand and Ramkrishna Paramahansa
Swami Vivekanand: “In tough times, how do you stay motivated?”
Ramkrishna Paramahansa: “Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.”

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