How Change Brings Out The Best and Worst in Business Leadership

Ineffective leaders let change stall progress and limit possibility. Effective leaders use change for growth and as a catalyst for achieving human and organizational potential.


This is one of the most profound yet elegantly simple statements around the nature of leadership that I think I have ever read! It crystallizes what we “know” to be true, but are often too afraid to admit.

No, I didn’t ‘steal’ it from the top 100 most famous leadership quotes of all time. I read it just the other day in a press release put out by U.S.-based Change Management consulting firm, Innova Group.

I felt they really ‘nailed it’ with the following statement: “A key feature of human thought is that we deceive ourselves into thinking we can plan something and execute it as conceived. However, experience has proven that every plan is subject to change. How we handle change decides a plan’s fate.” 

It’s just so true. It’s this exact characteristic of human thinking that saw us ‘as a species’, out-rival the Neanderthals and set us on a path to the civilization we know today. It’s also the same trait that led to the rise and fall of ancient Rome, the Babylonian and Greek empires, and perhaps even Putin’s Russia!

Innova go on to say… “Plans are based on what we know or can logically expect. However, execution of a plan is influenced by many unknowns and often, unpredictable changes. Some support and facilitate achieving plan expectations while others create roadblocks to and divergence from successful plan execution.

These unpredictable, unforeseen changes usually determine how well a plan achieves its intent. This is why leadership is so critical. Effective leaders embrace change and use it to capture potential for the common good. They view change as a catalyst for good and not as a problem to be solved or eliminated.

Effective leaders don’t control or avoid. They invite and engage plan stakeholders in using change to leverage possibility, capture potential, and pursue excellence. Leaders create an environment in which change is embraced as a learning experience and used as a catalyst for growth. Truly effective leaders don’t just plan, they also prepare to support plan execution by:

  • Engaging plan stakeholders in sharing a vision for planning, executing, and being sure everyone recognizes why the plan is important and being implemented.
  • Energizing plan stakeholders to be advocates for the plan and inspiring plan stakeholders to be adaptable and flexible in executing the plan.
  • Assuring all plan stakeholders are empowered to add value and are capable of doing what is being asked of them.
  • Focusing plan stakeholders on capturing potential for all by using change to leverage plan possibility and define success.
  • Displaying patience in learning with plan stakeholders and allowing change to redefine potential for the benefit of all.

Effective leaders embrace change as a catalyst for learning and growth. They factor change into their planning and prepare themselves and others to use change in a constructive, value-created manner. A well-developed plan can never guarantee every anticipated event or action occurs as expected. Effective leaders prepare plan stakeholders emotionally and intellectually to exploit the benefits of change and avoid the pitfalls of arrogance and over-dependence on existing knowledge, experience, or positional authority for direction and guidance.”

As soon as I read this I knew it was something I had to share with you all. It is a superbly written piece by industry colleagues and one that has something in it for all of us. Hope you enjoyed 🙂

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