Change is no longer an option; it is an imperative.
Change can often be forced upon us and is rarely actively sought or indeed warmly welcomed, due in no small part to the hugely unsettling and occasionally distressing impact it can create.
Typically, our attitude to change can be defined in three distinct varying fashions as the shock waves bombard our sense of security often exposing our barely concealed vulnerabilities.
Change Activists endeavour to provoke Change as they consciously act to incite, invent and push boundaries.
Activists are always intensely and obsessively driven, exhilarated and stimulated by the inherent risks and are so transfixed by their goals and objectives that they are oblivious to accepted “normal” emotions and behaviours. History and business is littered with leaders who embody these extreme behavioural traits, to whom any risk, no matter what the cost, is worth the endeavour. There is a blurred line between winning and losing and regardless of the result, Activists continue to take risks to achieve their goals and aspirations numbed to the collateral damage they can wreak upon their followers. Egotism and narcissm are often the Activists’’ defining characteristics. These extreme provocateurs are very much in the minority and are also notable for their tunnel vision, energy and commitment in enforcing change.
Change Reactionaries are rather more “normal” in that their emotional stature and their reaction to enforced change tends to focus upon adaptation and an acceptance of the circumsatnces, quite often a reluctant acknowledgement, rather than adopting a driving proactive posture.
Change tends to jettison the Reactionary from a perceived, often delusional sense of comfort and wellbeing into a confused and concerned state of mind, sometimes accompanied by a reluctance to accept the new reality. Pragmatism, a deep rooted survival instinct and urgency then propel the Reactionary to swiftly assess the status quo and move to establish a foothold and create a fresh sense of perceived security and an advantageous position. They dust themselves down, take a very deep breath and progress, but often carry the scars of the event for a lengthy period of time, sometimes forever. Nevertheless, the fact that the change is enforced rather than conceived does not detract from the ultimate outcome which is often a much improved, happier and satisfactory situation.
The Change Victim sadly fails to recover from enforced change, and quite literally gives up the fight, rolls over and concedes.
They are defeated by the experience and remain hurt, damaged, exhausted and incapable of rebuilding their careers or lives. They are spent and completely demoralised.
So, what do all great leaders demonstrate when faced with the cause and effect of change? They regularly stage remarkable recoveries, and come back stronger than ever. They often reinvent themselves or their businesses; they never give up hope and remain obsessively driven to achieve their visions. Notably, great leaders always strive to improve, never settling for what they have and are restless spirits. Importantly, they demonstrate great courage and are compelling, extraordinary and inspiring – yet remain unashamed calculated risk takers. We know that it is normal to suffer setbacks in our careers, businesses and personal lives, but it is how we recover that is important and define us as a person, and establishes our legacy. Shortly it will be time to make a decision – are we going to adopt the role of an Activist, Reactionary or a Victim.
As leaders we need to strongly review the strength of our resolve and reconsider and potentially reconstruct our visons and goals, remembering that we have a huge responsibility to the people who follow us.