One of the mottos of modern business might be: “The only constant is change.”
Ironically, the philosophy came from the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, in about 500 BCE.
Constant change isn’t a modern phenomenon. But certainly the pace of change is faster and the magnitude is greater than ever before—which places intense demands on business leaders.
The speed and enormity of modern-day change requires business leaders to be masters of change. They must understand the dynamics of change and transition, be able to lead effectively through its upheaval and ambiguity, and provide unwavering support to their people through the transition process. That’s a tall order.
To the many executives BECAUZ works with to accelerate the process of organizational transition, I advise: put your own oxygen mask on first.
The airplane safety videos tell you, “in the event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first. Then assist others.” That’s because you have to be in strong, able condition to provide useful support to others. In times of change, that means working through the transition process on behalf of yourself first, then supporting others.
Change brings emotional roller coasters for everyone in an organization even leaders. To lead effectively through transition, leaders must stay alert to their own individual responses to the turmoil of change. When leaders are aware of and dealing with their own turbulence, they’ll be in a stronger position to assist with employees’ oxygen masks.
I advise clients to develop a formal plan of how they will sustain themselves through the transition process, in more than strictly a business sense. Spend time considering how you will sustain yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and more through the turmoil of change. Get a solid plan in place and continue breathing that oxygen so you can carry out your plan. Then you’ll be in a stronger, healthier position to support and guide your people through the ups and downs of transition.
Next week in my blog, I’ll talk about the three identifiable phases of transition: endings, neutral zone, and new beginnings.
One final thought about the constant of change. As the writer Robert Gallagher said, “Change is inevitable except from a vending machine.”