Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Flexibility is Required When Change is Present

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In today’s organizations, conditions are always shifting. Leaders must be enabled by their organizations to be ready whenever conditions require adaptation. Forces of change demand a new mindset, new methods of operation, even new definitions of organizational success. None of this is possible without incorporating flexibility and imagination into decision-making, and the willingness of all organizational members to then see decisions through to enhance change transformations.

In order to fit evolving situations, it is crucial to constantly modify approaches and create flexibility in decision making policies. Problem solving is central to leadership and change itself.

Flexibility, imagination and change can sometimes be exhausting and frightening. Because of this, it is important to keep in mind that organization members will continually seek to avoid the pain and discomfort associated with uncertainty, fear and risk. When all members band together to meet the forces of change, these minimizing priorities can become a major obstacle to overcome in the decision making process.

Since overcoming personal discomfort and unrest is difficult and time consuming, management and leaders must be cautioned against succumbing to any number of fads promising quick fixes and painless successes. When it comes to successful organizational change, there are no easy fixes.

Organizations committed to change realize that their leaders need to assert practical, action-oriented decisions to move it ahead. Leaders must be able to think on their feet and improvise. Effective organizations and leaders don’t become focused on the means to creating good decisions, but on the end results. They rely on others’ ideas and insights as well as their own.

An organization committed to sound leadership principles allows its leaders to employ the most effective decision making tools in overcoming every situation that threatens the progress of change. Organizations and leaders alike need to guard against falling into rigid patterns of thinking and behavior where decision-making is concerned.

Organizations must carefully assess how its decisions are made, and seriously consider a situational approach to leadership. In other words, all members must become thoroughly immersed in the “here and now” with a complete understanding of each emerging situation and challenge, and related decisions made accordingly. In order to successfully accomplish this, four strategies need to be addressed and implemented which impact the quality of decisions. These include:

Avoiding a ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach to Decision Making

In the midst of change, trial and error abound. Organizations must acknowledge the fact that change and total empowerment evolve slowly. Decisions must be made along the lines of small steps designed to move the process along smoothly and steadily. This implies discarding management fads that claim all change can be swiftly accomplished with one method or solution.

Instead, leaders must be given full authority to assess every emerging situation and adopt the best-suited courses of action. Organizations discourage their leaders from becoming rigidly embedded in any processes, tools, methods or techniques limiting their creative capabilities to overcome any challenge posed by an emerging situation.

Break Out of Comfort Zones

Organizations often look the other way when some of its leaders repeatedly and doggedly use a particular style or approach to leading people and making decisions directly affecting them. This can be damaging in that it more often than not generates rigidity in thought and action among other leaders and employees. It works to limit creativity and unity of purpose and thought.

Decision-making constrained by comfort zones is generally not conducive to quickly emerging situations demanding immediate and sensible determinations. One’s favorite style or approach often does not fit the demands of a given situation. Immediate directives may at times be more effective than full-blown discussions of certain problems. Other situations will require more intense analyzation to determine root causes and numerous subsequent participatory discussions undertaken. Making effective, lower-risk decisions often requires applying an intensive, customized, and even untried approach to a situation. Organizations and its leaders refuse to take a “prepackaged” response to its problems.

Harnessing, Not Managing Change

Organizations and leaders understand that leadership is a “calling” that demands commitment to the organization’s mission, values and people. All decisions are made with these elements in the forefront. This calling implies leaders must meet external conditions that are always in flux because of new competition, new opportunities and unforeseen threats. Decisions must be made to adapt to and get ahead of changes. In other words, organizations and its leaders must ride the changes, not succumb to the temptation to manage them.

Decision-making must be quick, flexible and agile to surmount the challenges that change brings. When traditional decision making processes are adhered to, an organization builds an internal barrier to responding to a wide variety of contingencies and moving ahead.

Being Ready to Make Changes Immediately

One of the greatest challenges that organizations and leaders face in the midst of change is resisting the temptation to revert to “business as usual” mode, or assume there is only one way to move the organization ahead. Many leaders fall into the trap of returning to the familiar when things get out of control. Leaders must be continually encouraged not to cling to comfortable and automatic responses and actions when stressed by the situation they are forced to deal with.

When it comes to decision making, leaders and organizations need to remember to think small, be flexible and think creatively but opportunistically. They must remain open to new definitions of success, while making the organization stronger and healthier in smaller decision making degrees, not great leaps.

Excerpt: Organizational Empowerment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

Empowerment is a Structured Discipline

Seven Key Benefits of an Empowered Workplace

Managing Change: The Transition From Chaos to Order

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Empowerment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: The Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

February 27, 2013 at 10:20 am

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