By DEBORAH ROWLAND and MALCOLM HIGGS

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2 By DEBORAH ROWLAND and MALCOLM HIGGS A huge amount of change initiatives fail. Based on a combination of 4 years rigorous research and practical application of the emerging findings, the book explores the dilemmas related to the growing need for change and the difficulty in making change work. With empirical research of leaders in some of the most successful global organisations including PwC, Starbucks and Shell, this book will enable organisations and their leaders to make substantial performance improvements. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Former Director of the School of Leadership, Change & HR and Research Director of Henley Management College, UK, Malcolm Higgs has extensive consulting experience with the Hay Group, Arthur Young and as Principal Partner in Towers Perrin s Human Resource Management practice. He has published extensively on Leadership, team development, executive assessment, change management, and emotional intelligence - he has jointly developed a psychometric test to measure this. Member of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Higgs is also actively involved in consulting on leadership, change and assessment with international companies, both as individual consultant and Chairman of Transcend Consultancy LLP. Compelling writer and thinking practitioner Deborah Rowland, former Managing Partner of Transcend Consultancy LLP has had a 20 year career in organisational change, performance improvement, and leadership development, both as a consultant at Towers Perrin and Omega Management Consultants, a business practitioner at Shell and PepsiCo, and a teacher and lecturer at Business Schools such as Henley Management College and Bath University, UK. Principal positions have included VP Organisational Development for Pepsi Cola International, NY, PepsiCo s Director of Organisation and Management Development, and Senior Organisational Effectiveness Consultant at Royal Dutch Shell, London. Rowland, who holds a Double First in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University, is also a member of SOL- UK, the UK arm of the Society for Organisational Learning.

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4 EXTRACT Sustaining Change Leadership that Works Deborah Rowland and Malcolm Higgs Chapter Four CHANGING LEADERSHIP A FRAMEWORK Never confuse action with movement Hemingway

5 Chapter Four CHANGING LEADERSHIP A FRAMEWORK We continued our quest to discover what it was that leaders did to move an organisation to a different place. Many leaders attempt to implement change by creating a lot of new action in their organisations. However we could see that more activity by itself did not guarantee that an organisation would break out of its cycles of repeating patterns, or habitual routines. People can just get busier. Initiatives, work streams, programmes and events create a lot of noise and apparent change and make senior executives feel that things are happening. Yet deep down, the organisation, while in motion, can feel just the same. New words and language enter the organisation without the work changing. People s behaviour looks eerily familiar. And the organisation s customers and partners still experience the organisation in exactly the same way perhaps just a little more stressed. For some reason, certain change initiatives expend an enormous amount of effort for very little return. Insights were emerging from our initial research inquiry as to why that might be the case. Certainly the choice of change approach made a difference. However the most compelling finding was that what a leader does makes the biggest difference to successful change, not what they say or plan. One of the factors we studied in the stories was the leader s personal theory about how change should happen. And yet this theorizing leadership style made absolutely no difference to the outcome. There was little correlation between a leader s theoretical understanding about change and whether or not they were then successful in implementing it. It was what they chose to do that made all the difference. To be successful in change implementation, leaders therefore have to pay acute attention to their own style and practice. And yet we frequently observe that the more senior leaders become in their organisations, the more that attention is paid to the quality of their thinking

6 and the rigour of their planning not to the quality of their behaviour and what they do. We are not saying that thinking and planning are not important. We are saying that leaders should pay equal attention to how they go about their work how they engage with others, how they set up meetings, how they have conversations, how they create meaning in the organisation for the change process in order for any change to be successful. This requires leaders to have a heightened awareness of the dynamics in the organisation and why it might be stuck in repeating patterns; the self awareness and humility to recognise that certain elements of their own leadership practice has created that; and the courage to then act on this insight and adapt their behaviour in order for the organisation around them to change. For when a leader s behaviour moves, it can have a wonderfully surprising impact on moving the wider system around them. Another related theme we were noticing in our inquiry was that the successful leadership of change seemed to be about leading in the moment. The power of the present was all important. The leader needed to pay constant attention to clues in the current environment for example how people were reacting to the change, who was showing up to what type of meetings, what kind of s were being written (and not written), what range of emotions were being expressed or avoided and then take action based on these clues. Leaders who exhibited strong Shaping style behaviour appeared to let their own personal needs and agenda dominate how they took action. It created situational blindness. Whereas leaders who could Frame and Create Capacity, and who did not need to impose their personal agendas, were more able to tune in to the wider system and could therefore tap into and influence its energy. The close paying

7 of attention to the present included an awareness of the power of process. People s mindsets and behaviour are influenced by how the present moment is structured for example the diversity of people present in a conversation, the degree of interaction available to deal with the ambiguity of a changing agenda, the physical space in which people meet, how the organisational hierarchy is represented in a conversation, and how information is displayed as people talk. So, creating movement to get to a different place is about changing the way in which things happen, it is not simply about generating more action to make people busy. It s about working on the deeper processes that structure behaviour in order to create new results. And what leaders do personally to enable this shift in process seems to be important; yet the senior leaders we were working with could not always be physically present around their organisations to make this happen, the scope of their roles was too large. Moreover, the change effort was going to live or die based on their ability to create committed leadership throughout their organisation - the change could not rely on their efforts alone. We became more and more curious about the question of how senior leaders can generate large scale transformation in a way that creates sustainable conditions for the organisation to keep moving in a self organised fashion, without the leader having to heroically carry the load. We knew, from our research findings into change approaches, that leaders who assume that change is complex and can not be simplistically directed or controlled are more likely to have successful implementation. So what kind of leader behaviour can move complex systems? The risk of working with complexity (or assuming that the world is non- linear, comprised of multiple interacting parts, and yet related in one connecting system), is that you can make things complicated. Complicated systems are rich in detail, which you can easily get bogged down in. Complex systems are rich in structure, which

8 when mapped can be startlingly simple. At its most straightforward, the study of complexity is the study of the dynamics of the diverse linkages and interactions among people, technology and systems over time. This dynamic approach conceptualises organisational systems as sets of agents, or individuals, processes and mechanisms that generate novel and emergent outcomes from the interaction of the agents. We knew that a Shaping leadership style did not generate novel and emergent outcomes. A combination of this leader- centric behaviour, and a mechanistic change approach, seemed to generate a stuck organisation, not a healthy adaptive one. When individuals take charge, others around them stay frozen. They abdicate their own responsibility for making change happen and put that onto the Shaping leader. We now knew that the two factors of Framing and Creating Capacity leadership were producing different outcomes. They were leading to movement and successful change. They had given us some important clues. And yet we wanted to move beyond working with two separate factors and a list of behaviours. In using them with practicing leaders we began to develop curiosity around a set of questions that were to give shape to the next stage of our inquiry. - What are the interrelationships between Framing and Creating Capacity leadership? - Can we develop an emerging vision of a more integrative model for leading ongoing change? - What is it that leaders can do to keep their organisation in a state of perpetual motion and novelty? - Can we develop a framework for leading change that could embrace both the leader s behaviour and what needed to happen in the organisational system?

9 - In summary, could we create a practical yet theoretically robust framework that gave leaders choices and options for leading change and which would free them from the burden of carrying the entire load? The rest of this chapter shares the story and outcomes of our latest round of research and inquiry. This time we focussed solely on the leadership practices associated with successful change what is it that leaders actually do - rather than examine further the more general change approaches that organisations adopt. We were going to dig deeper into how such practices contributed to change success. Want to read more? amazon.co.uk and wiley.com ISBN: For bulk orders, please contact the dedicated Sales Team at John Wiley & Sons Ltd, on: or telephone:

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