Thursday, 15 November 2007

Leadership and change

I've always thought of leadership as being linked to change. But have realised over time this is an assumption which is not always shared. It appears to me things and people change purely by our interaction with them (or if we choose not to they are changed by our absence), and as such even if we believe leadership to be about keeping things stable and maintaining the status quo then it will still require a change of something to keep it that way.

At the heart of this lies a twist in perception. We need to consider if we are actors in society or passive recipients of what goes on around us? Stephen Covey describes this as the habit of proactivity, the first stage of becoming an effective person. Within his concept he talks of the need to become aware of the relationship between stimulus and response. Once a person has done this they can begin to exercise choice. Hence they become active (and in Covey's eyes, effective).

The ability a person has to respond to any given situation could also be seen as their ability to lead. The greater their ability to respond then the better a leader they are. i.e. the more able they are to exercise choice over their future.

Eventually everyone can accept they have some choice over things around them, that they can improve how they communicate, how they bring people together to get things done etc. What I find is a greater objection to the idea that leadership and change are linked is when the stakes and issues are bigger and harder to solve, further away from home and further outside the area of my authority and direct influence.

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