Wednesday, July 18

Self-Awareness and Dealing with Change

From Leading Effectively , the newsletter from the Center for Creative Leadership, Sara King writes: "How well you respond to change is part of who you are and how you lead."

Similarly, business consultant Richard Leider writes: "Self-leadership is the basis of all leadership. It is based on knowing yourself and seeking reliable counsel. Leaders in a changing world need to take stock of their personal attributes that embrace or resist change."

True leadership isn't simply about the ability to lead others, but also about the humility to lead oneself. Looking within and taking an assessment of one's abilities and choices takes hard work and a humble spirit. It takes honest reflection to understand your reaction to both personal and professional change. It is that servant leadership principle of self-awareness. Being self aware means being able to see and deal with the changing times. For an organization, dealing with change is very difficult though inevitable; and it takes an authentic leader to lead during the transition.

According to researchers Kerry Bunker and David Noer, there are four basic responses to change:

The Overwhelmed: The overwhelmed response is when individuals understand the change they are going through, but can't let go of the old ways. They withdraw, lack energy, and are frustrated and anxious. The overwhelmed are professional victims. Their primary coping strategy is to block out what is changing and avoid reality. They are in deep denial.

The Entrenched: When people are entrenched, they are able to learn and change in the face of transition, but have a hard time doing it. Frustrated and angry, their primary coping mechanism is to perform work in a narrow and limited manner. They tend to over-identify with the organization's past and lecture their co-workers on how things used to be. They tend to blame, complain, resist and work hard at previously successful behavior even if it is not appropriate for the current situation.

The Bluffers: The bluffer response is demonstrated when people appear comfortable with change, but are really just fooling everybody. They don't display fear or anxiety. Bluffers are confident that they can handle any crisis with aggressive shooting from the hip. They press for quick action and, appearing in control, can fool the boss for a very long time.

The Learners: When in the learning stage, people respond actively to change. They tend to hold the organization together through transition. They possess self-confidence and optimism. They are able to learn from experience and apply their skills to various situations. Accepting that they need to let go of the old, they take action in the face of uncertainty. They aren't Pollyannas; rather, they are sober, responsible individuals who are blessed with the inner resources of a positive outlook and a can-do attitude. They do best in times of change.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

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