I have been taking a few lectures on 'Change Management in Enterprise' in one of the management institutes in Mumbai. We talked about McKinsey's Principles and Lewin's Principles for Change Management. Then I came across this wonderful piece on Leading Change from John Kotter.
John P. Kotter, a world-renowned expert on leadership at Harvard Business School, has been the premier voice on how the best organizations actually “do” change.
This is what he says...Hope people interested would enjoy as I did. In the world of IT, even inclining organizations to look into Security requires a 'Change'. Let us all try and achieve the BEST CHANGE. :)
Why do we need leaders?
Leadership is required for mobilising people to handle challenging times. In a world that has no challenges, things are fine and you don’t require leaders. In such a world, you don’t need to mobilise people for handling any crisis. But unfortunately, in our world, we a have huge number of challenges in the government, non-profit and business sectors; we have many challenges in the developing and the developed world. Hence, we require leadership in our world. In fact, in our world, the need for leadership is more now than ever before. In our current world of business, we cannot afford to restrict leadership to just the top management positions. Every employee, every engineer should rise to a leadership role. They should step in to solve customer problems; they should step in to solve internal company problems. The number of people that we need to provide leadership is huge now. The turbulences in life will never stabilise, and I see the demand for leaders going up steadily.
How are leaders different from managers?
Leaders mobilize people. Their role is to undertake challenging goals that involve change. Leaders focus on changing behaviour, while managers focus on existing circumstances. For example, if there is a DVD player that is built well, we don’t require a leader to press the on/off button, because there is no challenge in it and no change is involved. I am not saying that managers are not important. Of course, they are important since it is not just the story of one DVD player. It is the story of 100,000 DVD players in 20 different countries where things can get complicated. Managers are important in that they should manage all these different DVD players in different countries, and ensure that they play the right movies at the right time. But the role of leaders is different. They often create the systems that the managers manage. For example, initially, there was the VHS system and the tapes that we were used to. It took leadership to change the user habits into something better. In the case of the battle between Sony and VHS, the amount of leadership that was required initially to drive the battle was much greater than after they won. Leadership is important at times of change because most of the time, the systems are not in place and leaders drive change and face challenges that are humongous. In short, in the case of stable existing systems, you need managers, while in the case of new turbulent situations that require a change, you need leaders.
Do leaders always drive change?
Almost always, leadership produces change. Go back in history and read about the people who were great leaders, and you will see that they were always focused on change. They were always helping people to change their behaviour. They were always focused on changing systems. Look at Mahatma Gandhi — he induced change in Indian society: he mobilised Indians and changed the way they looked at their state of affairs.
Do leaders drive their selfish cause or altruistic cause?
More often, people are talking about the behaviour of people when they are talking about leadership. They think about the presidents or CEOs of companies when leaders are mentioned. That is not the right way. The belief is that people in those positions mobilize people. But, the reality is that most of the times they are just politicians, managers, or sometimes they are not good at any of these. That is not a good way of defining leadership.
Good leaders are always driving changes. They derive a sense of satisfaction out of the change they drive. Great leaders always do something for people. I call it altruistic because it is good for the people. They are progressing towards goals that the society needs.
What is India’s role in shaping effective future leaders?
India is becoming very important and has got a bigger role to play in the global economy. Offering services cheaper and better is not the end; it’s the beginning. You must lead the way. You need good leaders for that, but more often than not, you don’t get better leaders. Educational institutions should focus on mentoring good leadership.