it possible for a
create a new future for an organization? A big part of the
CEO’s job is to do just that. Yet, many companies don’t invent the
future. They maintain the status quo. As a result, they become
casualties of the economy or worse, the competition. Inventing the
future requires one to rock the boat. Only by rocking the boat can a
create highly innovative products and services or achieve
Why Organizational Change Fails: 8 Common Errors
When you look at extraordinary
extraordinary leaders, you find people willing to
disrupt the status quo. On the other hand, many leaders
choose to protect the status quo, to protect their investment in
the existing infrastructure.
12 Major Causes of Failure in Leadership
Breaking the Rules
So what separates
extraordinary leaders from proponents of the status quo?
They break the rules. Except, not in an arbitrary or
capricious way. When you look at examples of extraordinary
leadership, like the Founding Fathers of the United States or
Jack Welch of
GE, certain practices or principles become apparent. To
start, there is a
what the future will be.
25 Lessons from Jack Welch
There is also a
purpose, something to stand for. And finally, there is a clearly
A powerful declaration can create a quantum leap in an
organization’s performance. It is the willingness to put
yourself on the line and say what the future will be,
instead of being at the mercy of whatever the future brings.
At the same time, when you
declare an intention to accomplish something you have
never accomplished before, you simultaneously create a
problem. To some, that problem looks like something to avoid
at any cost.
To others, it looks like an opportunity to
uncover what is missing between where they are and where
they want to be. By declaring what the future will be, you
open a path for people.
A stand is similar to a
purpose. It is what unites people in the face of putting
something at stake. It is what they rally around and for. It
is what people want to be part of now and in the future. It
creates the consciousness or
value system. When you clearly state what you stand for,
it’s as if you have created a platform where others can
stand with you. For example, Ghandi stood for achieving
freedom and justice by non-violent means, and millions of
people joined him in this stand.
A clearly defined commitment helps people understand
whom they have to become to build a legacy. In essence,
people become the accomplishment. When people become their
empowers them to take the appropriate actions.
How Extraordinary Leaders
Separate Themselves from Ordinary Leaders
leaders have both insight and foresight. They look
constantly for what is possible in the future. In some cases,
they commit to solving an existing problem. In other cases, they
exploit an unexplored opportunity. In either case, they
create a problem and disrupt the status quo.
12 Effective Leadership Roles
For example, when the Founding
Fathers declared independence from Great Britain, they created a
problem. They were committed to solving the existing problem of
taxation, among other issues. At the same time, that problem
made it possible for a new and innovative nation to be born.
Without the problem our Founding Fathers created, the US may
have remained a colony, paying taxes to Great Britain with no
representation in Parliament.
Similarly, when a
leader declares the future for his or her company, it
inherently creates a “problem.” The leader is declaring a future for which there
is no blueprint. There is no proof or evidence that this future can be
accomplished. Declaring a future, which has never existed, requires everyone
involved to risk walking through the proverbial dark tunnel. The declaration
breaks from the past or the status quo, demanding new thoughts, creating new
needs, and requiring new skills and competencies.
In addition to declaring a new
future, an extraordinary leader takes a stand for something
bigger than the problem that has been created. This stand
becomes the new
value system of the organization, much like our Founding
Fathers took a stand for freedom of the press, of religion, of
speech, and so on. The stand becomes the platform from which to
speak. It also becomes the common ground for everyone to be a
part of. We are still a
nation that stands for freedom. A powerful stand
motivates people. Out of this inspiration and motivation people are driven to
innovate. When people are empowered to be innovative, their
commitment increases. They have a chance to take new actions and
be proud of their accomplishments.
Leader: 10 Roles
Finally, our Founding Fathers were
highly committed to building a nation. They were the new nation.
Out of this commitment they created an unprecedented
constitution. When leaders
action, which are correlated
with their commitment, they set the example for others to
Turning Around a Company That Has No Problems
Jack Welch became the CEO of
took actions to disrupt status quo. His foresight allowed
him to see that GE’s success had made them complacent. How do
you move a successful company out of complacency?
Since there were no immediate problems, he created
them. He declared that every business unit
had to be number one or number two in its respective
industry. If they were not, the unit would be sold. Think about it. If your unit
were ranked number six in its industry, you would have had a problem.
Although Welch did not micro-manage
his people, he stood for them. Instead of micro managing, he
ensured they had the appropriate training and development to
fulfill his declaration.
Furthermore, he was committed to
learning organization. He personally invested time to
develop senior management. That way, the future he started would
continue to develop long after his departure.
Continuing to Create the Future
Declarations, stands, and
commitments are practices used by high-performing
leaders, athletes and artists. In some cases, people have
not distinguished them as practices. Nevertheless, once
distinguished, they empower people to clearly define the future
and the actions necessary to fulfill it.
Entrepreneurial Leader: 4 Specific
Creating a declaration has the same
power as an action. When you complete one action, you take on
another. It is the same with declarations. When a declaration is
fulfilled, it is imperative to create a new one. Without new
declarations, the future will only be an extension of past
accomplishments. In a world where
change is the
quantum leaps, not more of the same, are what it takes to
lead an industry.