The importance of Leadership during Transitions

The importance of Leadership during TransitionsImage: Pedro Ribeiro Simões, License: CC BY 2.0

A lot of today’s change management effort’s are focused on processes and controls, making sure nothing goes wrong and budgets or timelines are maintained. These approaches might work well to handle small, isolated “technical” problems, but they are not sufficient to deal with broader change efforts or adaptive challenges.

In the videos below John Kotter describes the importance of leadership in addition to management. Kotter proposes that management and leadership are different but complementary, and that in a changing world, one cannot function without the other: Managers promote stability while leaders press for change, and only organizations that embrace both sides of that contradiction can thrive in turbulent times.

The same applies to the difference between change management and change leadership. The distinction between the two is actually quite significant as well. Change management, which is the term most everyone uses, refers to a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control. The goal is often to minimize the distractions and impacts of the change. Change leadership, on the other hand, concerns the driving forces, visions and processes that fuel large-scale transformation.

Video: Dr. John Kotter | Change Management vs. Change Leadership — What’s the Difference?

Video: Change Management versus Change Leadership: What’s the Difference?

I don’t always fully agree with the recommendations given based on John Kotter’s work. Often, these feel rather prescriptive, and the 8-step approach can make change efforts look too easy and top-down directed. Others like Ron Heifetz (More) or Edgar Schein (More) provide more balanced views of how transitions work. Yet, in these videos Kotter gives a number of very insightful recommendations that should be taken into consideration in each large change program.

Links for further reading:

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Stefan Pap

Stefan founded Stefan Pap & Partners in 2008 after a successful career as project manager at two well-known global consulting firms. He is a passionate and dedicated consultant with a unique combination of strategy, business technology, and people management experiences.

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