Systems in organizations become so entrenched in company culture that it seems only an act of supernatural power can effect change. This is why so many change efforts and mergers fail.
Like human biology, organizational systems have a powerful immune system operating to maintain the status quo. People will defend the way things have always been done, resisting and pushing back hard as soon as change is introduced.
In one version of the 12th Century story of King Canute, the Danish monarch commands the tides to stand still so as not to wet his feet and robes. He failed, of course, and conceded that only God had power over the forces of nature, and thus he never again wore his crown.
Leaders who fail to take into account the strong forces of nature operating in organizational culture will meet similar fate. Unless leaders develop their systems awareness, they’ll lose their ability to influence change.
In the presence of a new and compelling vision, structures and systems are required to evolve. As a leader, if you ignore the undertow of homeostasis, your vision will fail.
Great leaders have the capacity to think systemically. They design systems for high performance. They avoid the traps of Reactive Mind, whereby managers and leaders react to problems by trying to fix them individually.
This is akin to trying to cure a disease by treating each symptom individually. You can only resolve the disease by treating the causes, not the results.
In business, leaders must find the leverage points to effect change. Instead, how often do we react to the loudest and closest symptoms? What’s needed is to manage the anxiety and tension in problems while searching for the true leverage points that will shift everything.
This capacity for holding tension in order to search for the most effective leverage point is something that arises naturally with a Creative Mind. It’s beyond the design capacity of those operating at a Reactive level of thinking.
In the Leadership Circle Profile (LCP), surveys of thousands of leaders show that systems awareness, thinking and design begin to emerge at the late Creative Stage of Development and reach maturity at the Integral Stage (Anderson and Adams, Mastering Leadership, Wiley, 2015).
This means that the more mature the leader’s Structure of Mind, the more likely it is that they are systemically aware. And, the Systems Awareness is the dimension on the LCP most highly correlated to Leadership Effectiveness as seen by bosses.
When CEOs evaluate the leaders who work for them, they most want to see a leader who is thinking systemically, has the big picture, understands the relationship between the business environment and business, and redesigns systems to solve multiple problems at once to achieve higher performance. ~ Anderson and Adams, Mastering Leadership, Wiley, 2015
I ask you this: what are you doing to leverage your leadership growth? How aware are you of the system within which you work? What leverage points exist where you can influence change? As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached at 425-533-4330 or email Marty@VondrellLeadership.com, here or on LinkedIn.