Overcoming complacency and the desire to maintain the status quo is key to leading change. John Kotter in his great book titled, “Leading Change” gives us the following reminders on creating a sense of urgency for change.
PUSHING UP THE URGENCY LEVEL
“Creating a strong sense of urgency usually demands bold or even risky actions that we normally associate with good leadership. Bold means cleaning up the balance sheet and creating a huge loss for the quarter. Or selling corporate headquarters and moving into a building that looks more like a battle command center. Or telling all your businesses that they have twenty-four months to become first or second in their markets, with the penalty for failure being divestiture or closure.
“Never underestimate the magnitude of the forces that reinforce complacency and that help maintain the status quo.
“We don’t see these kinds of bold moves more often because people living in over-managed and under-led cultures are generally taught that such actions are not sensible. If those executives have been associated with an organization for a long time, they might also fear that they will be blamed for creating the very problems they spotlight. It is not a coincidence that transformations often start when a new person is placed in a key role, someone who does not have to defend his or her past actions.
“Bold moves that reduce complacency tend to increase conflict and to create anxiety, at least, at first. If top management consists only of cautious managers, no one will push the urgency rate sufficiently high and a major transformation will never succeed.”
How’s your personal sense of urgency for bringing about change? Is there an agreed upon sense for the need to bring significant change from those you are leading? What needs to be addressed for you to get that sense of urgency embraced by many you are leading?