Change means letting go of our old habits, beliefs and potentially what we perceive define us.
Over time, as we live within our communities, we develop an identity for ourselves. This provides us with a sense of value and a perceived sense of control of our lives. Change threatens those beliefs, as once again the future becomes unknown. This uncertainty creates stress and emotional upheavals. To protect ourselves, we continue holding on to familiarities even though they have their own pains; at least we have been conditioned to live with them.
In today’s world, business books, cultures and colleges have conditioned us to deeply believe that management is about applying rationality to all of our decisions and actions. We have reached a point that we now accept this concept as truth. After all, to progress in our careers we need to conform.
Business culture influences us to keep our human side hidden. However, change penetrates through the thin layer of business demeanour and invokes all of our human traits. An organisation that is going through change is dealing with real life issues. Our business graduates and traditionally trained managers and business leaders are not trained to manage and lead in real life. As a result, they try to use business rational to manage and implement change. In doing so, they try to supress their own emotions and irrationalities. This inevitably results in pain, anxiety, mistrust, and casualties.
Businesses are not run by machines. They are virtual spaces that provide platforms for individuals within them to fulfil their ambitions, to make a living, to establish friendships and a sense of camaraderie, to reaffirm their self-worth and to add value to the society. I would like to pose a question to all managers and business leaders. How can we apply rationality to managing people when over 90% of our actions and decisions are automatic, in other words, not based on the common understanding of rationality?
When leading a change initiative we are changing peoples’ lives. I am not concerned with the validity of statements such as “a few for the sake of many”. Morality and ethics don’t have universal standards. As Change Leaders, our morality is our compass but we all have a different true north. Nonetheless, there is one thing that we all need to share, which is authenticity in all of our actions and conversations.
Philip Channer, Tina Hope (2000). Emotional Impact: Passionate Leaders and Corporate Transformation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.