Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Leadership is Dangerous!!!!!!

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" lead is to live dangerously because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear - their daily habits, tools, loyalties and ways of thinking - with nothing more to offer perhaps than a possibility. Moreover, leadership often means exceeding the authority you are given to tackle the challenge at hand. People push back when you disturb the personal and institutional equilibrium they know. And people resist in all kinds of creative and unexpected ways that can get you taken out of the game: pushed aside, undermined, or eliminated......The hope of leadership lies in the capacity to deliver disturbing news and raise difficult questions in a way that people can absorb, prodding them to take up the message rather than ignore it or kill the messenger......the deeper the change and the greater the amount of new leading required, the more resistance there will be and, thus, the greater the danger to those who lead. For this reason, people often try to avoid the dangers, either consciously or subconsciously, by treating an adaptive challenge as if it were a technical one. This is why we see so much more routine management than leadership in our society......when exercising leadership you risk getting marginalized, diverted, attacked or seduced.......When people resist.....their goal is to shut down those who exercise leadership in order to preserve what they have..."

Ronald A. Heifetz et al, 2002

Another way of putting this

"...a person who is determined to do something constructive with his life needs to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to love him..."

Barenboim as quoted by Howard Gardner, 2006a

More on marginalization, diversion, attack and seduction

. Marginalisation can come in various forms such as appointing you as a special person status on a particular issue, ie your views are only sought on that particular issue. It can involve tokenism and personalisation of issues; other methods include ignoring personnel and/or rendering them invisible

. Diversion involves consciously or subconsciously trying to make you lose focus by using such techniques as broadening your agenda so that you are overwhelmed; promotion is a way of sidetracking your agenda.

. Attacking you personally is a traditional method of neutralizing your message by turning the subject of the conversation from the issue to your character or style, etc, ie trying to discredit you personally. Another form of attacking is physical. People become easily diverted by physical attack as it is full of drama. The spectacle of violence is an effective way of diverting many people away from any underlying, deeply troubling issue. Generally people use verbal rather than physical attacks. These attacks may be on your character, your competencies, etc and all basically distort and misrepresent your views. They will come in one of the forms your opposition thinks will work. Through trial and error, they will find your weak point and will come at you whenever you are most vulnerable. Furthermore, attacks might take the form of misrepresentation.

. Seduction can result in losing your sense of purpose altogether. People are diverted by initiatives. For example, the desire for approval from your supporters and to have their support. In change, compromises are needed and this means handling your supporters' disappointed expectations

(source: Ronald A. Heifetz et al, 2002)


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