Each day several of us will be posting entries on some aspect of leading change. You’re invited to read, reflect, and respond. I hope this will serve as a great exposure to other thinkers and their ideas about living well and leading well.
On this blog we’ll explore this idea: Lead Change by Bridging the Knowing-Doing Gap.
What is the Knowing-Doing Gap? It’s a very dangerous place. If left unexplored it can grow into a black hole of fear, pride, and traditionalism. Worst of all – nothing grows there. Jesus described the gap this way:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. (Matthew 23:1-7, ESV)
What does this have to do with leading change in an organization? Well, everything. An organization is simply a group of people who work together toward a common end. It can be as small as a family or as large as a sprawling multinational corporation. As members of an organization, it’s easy for us to wait for someone else to change first. We say things like “If only the leadership – they – would do this or change that, then I could….” This type of thinking creates passivity. Desirable change occurs each time a person in that organization chooses to act in accordance with what they know is right.
Leadership is initiative. Leadership is character in action.
This concept is captured well in some recent ads by Liberty Mutual.
The first requirement for leading change is to model the Way. Jesus, without question the greatest organizational change agent who ever lived, knew that. So it comes as no surprise that James Kouzes and Barry Posner, co-authors of The Leadership Challenge, list Modeling The Way as the starting point for exemplary leadership. (BTW: If you don’t have that book on your shelf, you’re missing out on one of the best books published in the last 1,000 years on leadership.)
Lesson for change agents: Start here. Lead change by modeling the way.