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LEADERSHIP AS A JOURNEY: NAVIGATING TO A SHARED, DESIRED FUTURE

Theo H Veldsman

Work Psychologist; Visiting Professor, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg; Extraordinary Professor, University of Stellenbosch Business School

Leadership is about identifying possible futures, followed by choosing and actualising a shared, desired future. The verbs ‘identifying’, ‘choosing’ and ‘actualising’ imply an uncertain journey towards an ever shifting, continuously, re-imagined destination. At the heart of this journey, is a journey by leadership between a ‘To Be’ state – a to-be-realised Dream with its consequential lasting, hopefully worthy Legacy – and an ‘As is’ state – the here-and-now regime to be changed. The journey is inspired by a quest for a better, perhaps different world.

The actual journey of actualising a shared, desired state occurs in the ‘In Between’ state. This entails a transition from an ‘As is’ state to a ‘To Be’ state. Or more accurately put, the stress-inducing, fearful, anxiety-invoking state of transforming the ‘As is’ into the ‘To Be’ within the ‘In-Between’ state. As has been said (paraphrased): It is not that we are so fearful of the change; or are so endeared with the current. It is the place in between that we fear most: there is nothing to hold onto (M. Ferguson).

Change navigation – the journey of making the shared, desired future state a reality in the Present within the In-Between state –is thus a critical capability of leadership.  But how does change navigation – and not change management, because change cannot be managed in the emerging world of tomorrow – need to look like if leadership is to be future-fit in actualising a shared, desired future? The emerging world of tomorrow – forming the backdrop of the ensuing discussion – is the VICCAS (an extension of VUCA) world of increasing Variety, Interdependency, Complexity, Change, Ambiguity, Seamlessness and Sustainability. But also a world with the counter side – even ‘dark’ world – of ‘Over’: creeping Over-standardisation, Over-dependency, Over-simplification, Over-formalisation, Over-control, Over-specialisation and Over-utilisation.

MULTI-DIMENSIONALITY OF THE LEADERSHIP JOURNEY

Holistically, systemically and organically, Leadership is embedded centrally in the critical triangle of Others-Organisation-Context.

In its totality, the triangle forms the Leadership Ecosystem. The Ecosystem represents the topological map of the Leadership Universe made up of ever-changing, dynamic relationships between the components making up the Ecosystem, configuring into dynamic patterns of interaction over time, either virtuous or vicious, orderly or chaotic.

The overall leadership journey into the future of identifying, choosing and actualising a shared, desired future is made up of five interdependent, reciprocally influencing, concurrent journeys giving the overall journey within the Leadership Ecosystem a multi-facetted nature:

  • Journey 1: A journey of adopting a Unique Quest to be pursued by leadership, an envisioned legacy, the foremost departure point of the overall, intended journey
  • Journey 2: A journey of Deepening Authentication within Leadership him/ herself towards true Self
  • Journey 3: A journey of Passionate Embracement by Others through transforming from being mere stakeholders into genuine Followers, simultaneously dealing with Opponents and Opposition
  • Journey 4: A journey of Dynamic Matching within a certain Context in which the Leadership, Others and Organization are embedded – her chosen Operating Arena, and hence Sphere of Influence
  • Journey 5: A journey of Ongoing, Innovative Re-inventing with respect to the Organisation (or institution) of which Leadership and Others are members of, or have a stake and interest in.

The metaphor of a rope can be used to visualize the above five journeys. Symbolically, a rope denotes the power, means and desire to ascend to greater things by connecting and tying together separate points or things in order to enable movement between them. In this sense a rope represents the stream of life itself in its ability to facilitate between-points, bridging, connecting movement.

A rope is braided together from different twisted strands. Stands are made up of fibers spun into yarns. To make a rope a stable, strong, unified object, yarns and strands are braided respectively into opposite directions. The one clockwise, the other anti-clock wise, in succession as the rope is progressively braided.    

Metaphorically represented by a rope, the journey of leadership into the future of identifying, choosing and actualising a shared, desired future, is made up of five strands:

  • the kern – at the center of the rope – composed of the highly, intertwined stands of adopting a Unique Quest to pursue (Journey 1), and Deepening Authentication within Leadership him/ herself (Journey 2); and
  • twisted round the kern, three enabling, strengthening strands of Passionate Embracement by Others (Journey 3); Dynamic Matching with a certain Context (Journey 4); and Ongoing, Innovative Re-inventing of the Organisation (or institution) (Journey 5).

So leadership is a rope-maker, -provider and –user.  The likelihood of a successful journey into the future of identifying, choosing and actualising a shared, desired future is a direct function of the strength of the five strands making up the rope, and how skillfully they are woven together in order to make up the overall rope. However, the kern at the center of the rope – the Unique Quest and Deepening Authentication – is the game-maker or game-breaker with respect to the likely potential to actualise a desired future.

In the discussion below, each journey (=the stands of the rope with their constituent yarns) is elucidated in turn, in the order listed above. Throughout the discussion, it must be kept in mind that the above five journeys are occurring concurrently, resulting in an overall journey into the future: weaving the yarns and stands skilfully into a single rope, simultaneously and reciprocally strengthening one another.

JOURNEY 1: ADOPTION OF A UNIQUE QUEST – MY ENVISIONED LEGACY – TO PURSUE 

This stand of the rope – forming part of its kern – is where the journey of transforming into and becoming a leader starts. Critical ingredients of the journey of adopting a unique quest – the yarns making up this strand of the rope – are: a lasting, worthy legacy; an inspiring dream; and lasting worthiness.

Lasting, worthy legacy

To transform and become a leader, a person – any person – has to discover and adopt a unique quest: the lasting, worthy legacy he wants to pursue in order to leave the world a better place for current and future generations.  A quest entails bringing about and/ or acquiring something of value that can be brought ‘home’, the conquest. In this case, a desired future. The legacy represents the ‘Why’ of her journey.

It is the overarching purpose and meaning that he wishes to inspire in others in their search and will to meaning. The source of the quest could be challenge, need, issue or problem, whether current or expected, and be physical, health, socio-cultural, economic, political, or religious in nature.

The quest is about exploration, discovery, insight, learning, change, transformation, victory or failure by and in leadership as the traveler; the reality the traveler is engaging with; and the outcomes to be attained.   By its very nature, the pursuit of quest will be infused by ambiguity, uncertainty, unpredictability, dilemmas, paradoxes, dangers, obstacles, temptations, risks, ordeals, turmoil and stress, fear and anxiety that all demand courage, faith, hope and perseverance from leadership.

Inspiring dream

Leadership’s intended legacy has to be translated in the Present into a dream, the ‘To Be’: an inspiring vision of what the desired future world would and should look like if the intended legacy has become a reality.  Leadership’s dream as the destination of her journey, gives concrete substance (= What) to her intended legacy: the ultimate purpose and meaning of the journey (=Why and Whereto). The ‘Why’ and ‘Whereto’ of his journey hence finds its expression in a legacy-linked dream, embraced by a person transforming into and becoming a leader, concurrently.

Through her legacy-linked dream, she brings the Future (the ‘To Be’ state) into the Present (the ’As is’ state), and gives real time, meaning and purpose to the Present in which the dream has to be actualised progressively within the ‘In Between’ state. Typically, the dream – with its resultant legacy – is multi-a-time re-imagined and re-configured during the unfolding journey of actualising the dream.

Lasting worth

The envisioned legacy is always value-informed. The quest pursued by leadership finds its ultimate foundation and justification in the purpose and meaning of the truth, value, beauty, importance and goodness infusing and embodied in the chosen, legacy-linked dream he is pursuing. The ultimate foundation and justification of the quest provide the quest with a worthy purpose and meaning. It infuses the quest with a certain spirituality which needs to be uplifting.

To be of lasting worth, the ultimate foundation and justification of the quest must be morally and ethically uplifting to all those affected and impacted by it, leadership in the first place.  I.e., the quest has to be infused and directed by the right values. Only in this way, will the envisioned legacy give hope about, faith in, and courage about a better and different future.

The morality of the quest determines the critical spiritual strength of the rope’s kern, and hence of the whole rope symbolising the journey into the future. This moral strength provides the source of enduring, dogged perseverance with an adopted quest regardless of resistance and critique.

JOURNEY 2 – JOURNEY WITHIN LEADERSHIP TOWARDS TRUE SELF – DEEPENING AUTHENTICATION

A quest in the form of a worthy, lasting, envisioned legacy has been adopted, giving purpose and meaning. The overall leadership journey has been triggered: I am committed to be a leader, and to be the best possible leader.  This stand of the rope – forming part of its kern – pertains to the never-ending journey within leadership him/ herself to Self to arrive at place of validated authentication: being a true Self, serving others purposefully, meaningfully, and unselfishly.

This journey is about the imperative of finding, understanding and accepting myself. In tandem to the lasting, worthy envisioned legacy, the critical strength of the rope’s kern, and hence of the whole rope also, is a function of the depth of validated authentication in terms of purpose and meaning reached by leadership. Critical ingredients of the journey within leadership towards Self – the yarns making up this strand of the rope – are: identity; servanthood; stewardship; and risks.

Progressively, enlightening crystallisation of my Identify as leader

Deepening authentication entails a journey of progressively finding through intensive self-reflection, deeper answers to five identity questions. The answers result in a progressively, enlightening crystallisation of my Identify of being and becoming a leader whilst moving into the future:

  • Who and what am I as a person with my strengths and weaknesses, my capacities and capabilities?
  • What do I stand for and live by, my core values?
  • What do I aspire to, my ideals?
  • What drives me and why, my deepest motives?
  • What is my engagement style with the world, my way of doing things and interacting with others?

Transforming into a humble, wise servant and steward of the greater good 

In the final instance, the deepening authentication toward genuine leadership – expressed in a true Self – is a journey going beyond an ego-centric Self through transforming myself as leader progressively into a humble, wise servant of the greater good, and a trusted steward of the desired future pursued, guided by an internal moral compass and conscience. I am here to serve and look after the future of all, sourced from a worthy purpose and meaning which is ethical (refer the above discussion). My character and integrity as a leader is rock solid.

However, concurrently the growing self-awareness and –insight towards a true Self, requires of leadership to face up to with brutal honestly to his dark (or shadow) side: his ‘bad’ side which one quite naturally denies and/ or represses but has to accept, and dealt with, also in all humility and sincerity. In other words, admitting to, and gaining insight through feedback into my vulnerabilities as a person aspiring to be an authentic leader. Realising how Others, in particular other leaders, can and must complement me with respect to my weaknesses.

  Risks endangering the journey to a true Self

Throughout the above described, ongoing journey towards true Self – manifested in a well crystallised Identify through deepening authentication – leadership is at risk of:

  • adopting un-authentically, and mechanistically, dreams and legacies externally imposed on him, having no real, deep personal purpose and meaning for him. Because the dreams and legacies have no sense and meaning to him, he is alienated from them;
  • embracing, propagating and discarding dreams and legacies opportunistically, as and when it suits her;
  • pursuing ego-centric quests, serving only himself and/ or an elite, selected few;
  • having her pursuit of a lasting, worthy envisioned legacy toxified by her bad/ dark side. Consequently the legacy becomes morally corrupt, and is rejected/ ignored; and/ or
  • pursuing unworthy quests devoid of any worthiness in terms of truth, value, beauty, importance and goodness, to the ultimate moral and ethical degrading and detriment of all.    

JOURNEY 3: JOURNEY TOWARDS AND WITH OTHERS – PASSIONATE EMBRACEMENT   

An authenticating leadership has adopted a desired future as envisioned legacy to pursue. The next stand to be woven and twisted into the rope around its kern by leadership is to identify and reach out to the right stakeholders, and convert them into dedicated, courageous followers. Within the VICCAS world the range and diversity of stakeholders as prospective followers – leveraged by social media – have expanded exponentially.

The imperative for leadership with respect to this strand of the journey is transforming his personal quest into a shared, collective quest, passionately embraced by genuine followers. Without followers, no leadership. Critical ingredients of the journey towards and with Others – the yarns making up this strand of the rope – are: the relationship triangle; legitimacy; the conversion process; energy; reciprocity; opposition and opposing.

Relationship triangle 

The Leadership-Followers relationship is embedded in a triangle made up of three key variables: Legitimacy, Expectations and Trust, represented by the acronym, LET (previous elucidated in Stop-over 9). Implicated in composition of the acronym is a play on words: by converting into followers, stakeholders LET leadership lead them or not. LET is the catalyst of and enabler to the conversion.

The more legitimacy leadership has with prospective followers; the better matched reciprocal expectations are; and the stronger trust is, the more prospective followers are willing to LET leadership lead them by embracing passionately the quest propagated by leadership. As legitimacy increases, expectations become better aligned, and trust becomes stronger, the ‘bigger’ the relationship triangle becomes. Followership blossoms. And consequently, the ‘scope’ of the leadership’s area of influence and action enlarges, because followership grows in in depth and strength.  The initially propagated envisioned legacy can be re-imagined and reconfigured into more daring dreams with greater legacies because of the growing, flourishing followership.   

Criticality of legitimacy

For stakeholders to convert truly to followers as a start – and become co-travelers in journey to actualise the envisioned legacy, consciously, explicitly or unconsciously, implicitly – they need to accept and endorse the legitimacy of the prospective leadership to lead them. This they do by acknowledging and embracing the right of that person to act as their leader, whether he has a formal position or not. Stakeholders as prospective followers have to grant leadership the ‘license’ to lead them.

In this sense, followers get the leadership they deserve because they have legitimised their chosen leadership. Of course, leadership is not to be passive in this legitimation process. He must also do their utmost to ‘sell’ himself to prospective followers. She must appeal to them to let them be led through the quest as envisioned legacy she is encouraging them to embrace with passion.

  Without this endorsed legitimacy, the person aspiring to be a leader will have no willing followers. However, followers may be coerced through formal authority and power to be ‘followers’ but then only in name, but not in heart and spirit. A voluntarily acceptance and endorsement by followers – willing to give their all in body, mind, soul and spirit – grants leadership a high degree of legitimacy, resulting in a high level of genuine, courageous fellowship.

Conversion into genuine followers 

Conversion to genuine followership – through the progressive deepening and expanding LET – is an unfolding journey from:

  • ignorance amongst stakeholders of the quest – the desired, not yet shared, future – propagated by leadership (no LET: no legitimacy; unknown/ misaligned expectations; no/ little trust);
  • through a growing understanding amongst stakeholders of leadership’s quest (weak LET);
  • followed by acceptance and internalisation of the quest by embracing the envisioned legacy as their own, our dream and legacy, by truly converting from mere stakeholders into true followers (strong LET); and
  • finally, living through externalisation as followers the embraced, shared quest passionately jointly with leadership by making it a reality in the Present within the ‘In-Between’ state (unwavering, impassioned LET: high legitimacy; aligned expectations; deep trust).

Critically important at the beginning of the conversion process, is that leadership constitutes the process of engaging with stakeholders by ‘meeting’ them where they are, their world(s) – physically, mentally, psychologically and socially in time and location – in their initial ignorance of the quest propagated by leadership.

Reciprocity

The growing relationship, through the conversion process with followers, also play a pivotal role in the progressively, enlightening crystallisation of the Identify as leader in finding a true Self. Leadership uncovers a true Self not only in a solipsistic conversation with herself, but in particular in and through the journey with others, as contained in the Ubuntu concept.  A person becomes truly human through others.

But, recursively leadership also has to enable and empower followers to grow towards progressively, deeper authentication themselves in order to transform into courageous followers. And, through this process find their true Self. Growing authenticity has to be reached by both leadership and followers.      

Requisite Follower Energy

During the journey in actualising the dream, leadership has to invoke and maintain the requisite energy in followers – positive psychosocial capital – to undertake the journey into the future in order to sustain followers’ passionate embracement of the shared quest. The necessity of the requisite energy to make the shared, desired future state a reality in the Present within the energy-sapping ‘In-Between’ state. (This assumes also that leadership capacitates simultaneously followers with the needed abilities, and they ascribe to the right core values required by the journey.) 

Without the necessary energy amongst followers, no fuel to drive the future-directed journey will exist. The ‘quantity’ and ‘quality’ of the potential, positive energy is a direct function of the lasting worthiness of the propagated envisioned legacy as expressed in the truth, value, beauty, importance and goodness infusing and embodying it.

Metaphorically the energy relates to the Spirit, Heart, Head, Hands and Feet, and Backbone of Followers. As positive psychosocial capital, this energy – invoked by the worthiness of the envisioned legacy – is made up of inter alia:

  • Hope and Faith (Spiritual Energy);
  • Drive and Dedication (Heart Energy);
  • Security and Clarity (Head Energy):
  • Efficacy and Resilience (Hands and Feet); and
  • Courage and Perseverance (Backbone Energy).   

Opponents and Opposition

Leadership not only has a relationship with followers but also with opponents, as and when they appear. In particular, opponents challenge the legitimacy of Incumbent Leadership – leadership’s ‘license to lead’. In principle, the power held by leadership creates from the word ‘Go’ the likelihood for opposition to emerge, depending how power is exercised by leadership on the one hand. And, how the exercised power is perceived and received by Others on the other hand.

Opponents rise up against the formal power claimed by leadership to influence and control Others in their reciprocal interdependency to actualise a shared, desired dream and future with a concomitant legacy.  Or, from the start, opponents may challenge the envisioned legacy – with its accompanying worthiness – itself as propagated by leadership.

Hence the journey into the future in actualising a shared, desired future by leadership requires the ability by leadership to deal effectively and on an ongoing basis with opponents and opposition (see Stop-over 32 further in this regard) in order to enhance the likelihood of a successful journey with unquestionable dedicated followers. Failure to deal successfully with opposition, may significantly detract from the strength of this strand of the rope: passionate embracement.

JOURNEY 4: JOURNEY WITHIN A UNFOLDING CONTEXT: DYNAMIC MATCHING

The journey into the future takes place in a certain Context, both current and emerging. The Context forms leadership’s Operating Arena, and hence Sphere of Influence. This is the next stand to be braided into the rope.  The imperative of this strand in this unfolding, future-directed journey is real time, Dynamic Matching: successfully engaging with contextual challenges, demands and requirements on an ongoing basis with foresight through a good fit ecosystemically of envisioned legacy, leadership, followers and context whilst moving into the future. Put differently, to remain contextually relevant through time (L. Groenewald)

Critical ingredients of the journey within the Context of transforming the ‘As is’ state into the ‘To Be’ state within the ‘In-Between’ state – the yarns making up this strand of the rope – are:  engagement mode; change assumptions; and contextual features. Leadership and followers have to co-meet the imperative of dynamic matching, through the discussion below will focus primarily on leadership, but by implication followers.

Right contextual engagement mode

Leadership needs to adopt the appropriate contextual engagement mode in resonance with the world of tomorrow: ‘Which is the right set of glasses to wear to give me 20/20 vision of the world I have to act on?’ The set of glasses represents leadership’s assumptions, beliefs and values about the world she has to engage with, her chosen Operating Arena.

This engagement mode is made up of three, interdependent ‘seeing’ components:

  • World View – what is the nature of reality and how does it work?  Currently the best understanding of reality seems to be Complexity. The Leadership Ecosystem (elucidated above) is an example of this view.
  • Decision Making Framework – how must decisions be taken? A fit-for-purpose Decision-Making Approach has to be crafted congruent with the qualitative features of the Operating Arena in order to make sound, contextually fit, decisions. E.g., a stable, predictable vs. a revolutionary, unpredictable, rapidly changing context.
  • Value Orientation – what are right, morally and ethically judgements with respect to the relative worth of persons, things, events, outcomes? At present Stewardship is propagated as the most desirable Value Orientation.

A mind shift in change assumptions

The appropriate engagement mode has been adopted. Next, the ‘wicked’ challenges, demands and requirements of the VICCAS world necessitate that leadership adopts a different set of assumptions if he wishes to navigate the change journey successfully in this world. ‘New’ World assumptions will increase significantly the likelihood that leadership will be architects of the future they conceive and aspire to.   

The table below depicts ‘Old’ vs. ‘New’ World change assumptions, the latter being more suitable to the world of tomorrow.

‘OLD’ WORLD CHANGE ASSUMPTIONS

‘NEW’ WORLD CHANGE ASSUMPTIONS

Past success predicts future success

Future success looks different than past success

Yesterday’s solutions will resolve today’s problems

New mindsets have to be discovered and adopted to reframe challenges, issues and problems afresh in order to find new solutions

The Future has to be adapted to

The best way to create the Future is to create it

The Present and Future are continuous. The Future can be arrived at by merely extrapolating from the Present into the Future

The Present and Future are discontinuous. The Future must be the point of reference from which to transform the Present

The good old days are the best, and must be maintained at all costs

Today is the last day of the good old days. We have to start afresh

Change is a temporary, intermittent phenomenon of the world

Change is a permanent, inherent feature of the world

The Present is the arena of action

The Future is the arena of action

In taking action, be fixed on both means and ends

In taking action, be fixed ends but flexible on means

Characteristics of change navigation in the VICCAS world 

Given the adoption of ‘New’ World change assumptions, the navigation of change    embodied in the journey towards actualising a shared, desired future – under the VICCAS conditions of hyperfluidity and hyperturbulence, takes on a significantly different nature, qualitatively, to be considered in embarking on the journey:

  • Change is messy. Change navigation is an emerging, iterative, unpredictable, uncertain, unfolding, circular and organic process.
  • A permanent state of unfreezing. At most dynamic stability can be attained and maintained in order to allow for agile responses to the relentless, radical change. Change navigation becomes a process of constant, re-imagining and reconfiguring dreams and legacies, and redefining successive desired states, in real time, all of the time. No fixed journey and final destination. Change resilience is crucial.
  • Criticality of a value-guided, envisioned legacy. The only secure anchor and point of reference in tomorrow’s world is to be Dream (= ‘What’) and Legacy (= ‘Why’) driven, and Value (=’Whereto’)-guided, although constantly re-imagined, reconfigured and redefined.
  • Deep, critical questioning. No holy cows and impossibilities exist. Everything – all accepted ways of thinking and doing – are on the firing line, up for contention, and have to questioned from first principles. Even the questions posed, have to be questioned. Nothing is holy and ordained.    
  • Low transferability of change success stories. No generic, success change recipe exists.  Each journey is unique. It needs its own unique approach every time, even in the same organisation though Lessons Learnt and general principles can be distilled and applied.

JOURNEY 5: JOURNEY LEVERAGED THROUGH THE ORGANISATION – ONGOING, INNOVATIVE RE-INVENTING   

The final strand to be braided into the rope is leveraging the journey towards actualising a shared, desired state from the platform of some or other organisation (or institution) of which Leadership and Others are members of, or have a stake in. This organisation can range from a formal, through informal to a loosely coupled, network type of organisation. The journey into the future needs to find a ‘home’ somewhere for the envisioned legacy, leadership and followers.

Given the mind shift in change navigation assumptions and characteristics of change navigation in VICCAS world, the imperative of this journey is that of Ongoing, Innovative Re-inventing of the organization as residence of the envisioned legacy. Critical ingredients of the journey of ongoing, innovative re-inventing – the yarns making up this strand of the rope – are: organisational view; strategic intent; and change navigation guidelines.     

Appropriate organisational view 

Based on his adopted world view, leadership has to conceive view of the organisational landscape, his home. Befitting a Complexity world view, it is the view of the organisation as a contextually embedded, dynamic, interconnected, and systemic whole: an integrated, living organism.  The figure below depicts such a complexity picture of the organisational landscape with its commensurate components.

According to the above figure, the organisation has to be seen as a self-designing, non-linear whole, configuring into patterns that form virtuous or vicious cycles expressive of a limited number of underlying organising rules as it moves through successive states of chaos and order, and resolve dynamic, opposing tensions within the organisational landscape, e.g. control vs. autonomy.  Touching one component of the organisation, affects all of its other components. 

Strategic Intent

The envisioned legacy as quest has to be translated and operationalised into a Strategic Intent for the organisation (see above figure). Typically, the Strategic Intent is made up the Mission, Vision and Ideology of the organisation.  Consequently, the other organisational components have configured and aligned dynamically across the organisational landscape to the chosen Strategic Intent in order enable its achievement.

Within the VICCAS world, the organisation – with its constituent organisational components – as the leverage applied (or platform used) by leadership to bring about the envisioned legacy – must re-shaped and reconfigured in real time on an ongoing basis in order to enhance the likelihood of sustainable success.  Ongoing, innovative re-invention is the name of the game in tomorrow’s world.  The organisation must architected into a shape most befitting the game to be played – the journey to be travelled – in the VICCAS world.

Currently, the shape propagated for this world is a high performance/ high agile/ high engagement organisational design. Not the conventional command-and-control design, metaphorically represented by a symphony orchestra under baton of an (autocratic) conductor. But, rather a ‘leaderless’, jazz band infused by skillful improvisation, featuring real time agility, responsiveness and flexibility (Veldsman and Johnson).    

Change navigation guidelines

At least the following change navigation guidelines regarding the organisation to be innovatively re-invented, apply under VICCAS conditions of hyperfluidity and hyperturbulence, given the inherent features of change in this world:

  • The scope of change exceeds always the available organisational capability. Typically, the scope of change is significantly bigger than the available organisational capability build for ‘normal’ operating requirements.  Leadership has to find smart ways to close this gap in order to actualise the shared, desired future within the given window of opportunity.
  • Balancing divergence and convergence during change. Leadership must maintain the delicate balance between moving their organisation to the desired ‘To Be’ state (= Divergence) AND maintaining coherence amongst the organisation’s different components (=Convergence) whilst the change is being affected within the ‘In-Between’ state.
  • Ongoing dynamic fusion of change navigation dilemmas. During the change navigation, resolutions have to be found for many change dilemmas, such as Big bang vs. Piece-meal change; Piloting vs Full scale adoption; Fast vs. Slow; Top down vs. Bottom up; Participative vs. Autocratic style.     
  • The cascading re-invention of change. Change at different levels and areas of the organisation, and different organisational members, carry different meanings and senses. Change – both in content and process – has to be repeatedly re-invented through customisation and localisation to fit different circumstances in order to have a lasting impact.
  • Necessity of being a learning and teaching organisation. The continuous change, and permanent state of unfreezing – with the resultant need to find novel responses to ever-changing challenges, demands and requirements – make it imperative that the organisation transforms itself into learning and teaching entity. It must be able to pro-actively learn faster than the rate of change through real time, intelligence-informed, action learning.    

Conclusion

Leadership is a journey encompassing identifying possible futures, followed by choosing and actualising a shared, desired future. At the heart of this journey, is a journey by leadership between a ‘To Be’ state – a to-be-realised Dream with its consequential lasting, hopefully worthy Legacy – and an ‘As is’ state – the here-and-now regime to be changed.The actual journey of actualising a shared, desired state occurs in the ‘In Between’ state. This entails a transition from an ‘As is’ state to a ‘To Be’ state.

Metaphorically represented by a rope, the journey of leadership into the future of identifying, choosing and actualising a shared, desired future, is made up of five strands

  • the kern – at the center of the rope – composed of the highly, intertwined stands of adopting a Unique Quest to pursue (Journey 1), and Deepening Authentication within Leadership him/ herself (Journey 2); and
  • twisted round the kern, three enabling, strengthening strands of Passionate Embracement by Others (Journey 3); Dynamic Matching with a certain Context (Journey 4); and Ongoing, Innovative Re-inventing of the Organisation (or institution) (Journey 5).

The likelihood of a successful journey into the future of identifying, choosing and actualising a shared, desired future is a direct function of the strength of the five strands making up the rope, and how skilfully they are woven together in order to make up the overall rope. However, the kern at the centre of the rope – the Unique Quest and Deepening Authentication – is the game-maker or game-breaker with respect to the likely potential to actualise a desired future.

Do you recognise some areas in yourself as a leader or areas in your team that need improvement?

Contact Adriaan Groenewald for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside you as a leader and your organisation.

Adriaan Groenewald is an Authentic Leadership Activist

 

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