Friday, June 3, 2011

Deep Change

Yesterday I had lunch with a trusted friend.

We discussed everything from A to Z. We solved problems. We strategically thought through complex issues. 

Then we paid our bill and left the restaurant.

Except, my mind kept on going after we left the restaurant. We are living in a demanding time and it is not easy to lead in a changing culture. Then I remembered something I read recently.

As a stark reminder to those facing the shifting forces of culture, Robert E. Quinn writing in Deep ChangeDeep says we are faced with two options...Change of Slow Death. He doesn't suggest any middle ground. He doesn't provide a half way point, rather he calls for "deep change" that ushers in new realities personally and organizationally.

"The land of excellence is safely
guarded from unworthy intruders.

At the gates stand two fearsome
sentries - risk and learning.

The keys to entrance are faith and courage."
 Deep Change, p.165 

There are few people who lead with their heads and their hearts. There are many who think they do, but few have mastered the craft of head and heart leadership. For those who lead with both, they have experienced the "deep change" necessary to knock on the gates of the "land of excellence."

No longer living as "people pleasers," they have centered on the hard work of principled leadership that casts vision and articulates mission. They are willing to make tough choices even when it might be unsettling to those whom they lead. They do what is right because it's the "right thing to do" and people follow them.

They are familiar with risk and learning...they are comfortable with faith and courage even though circumstances try their resolve.

Watching leaders over the last twenty five years, I have seen "head and heart" leaders who re-shaped organizations and recaptured fragments left behind by lack of leadership. I have marveled as these leaders "storied" their way through a myriad of competing cultures and clashing expectations and in so doing have ushered in a vibrancy to the organizations they lead.

Reflecting on my conversation over lunch, I have again been reminded that change is difficult. It is often resisted and "excused" away.

Quinn says, "the price of not making deep change is...slow death, a meaningless and frustrating experience enmeshed in fear, anger, and helplessness, while moving surely toward what is most feared."

That is a frightening prospect to consider. Looks like "deep change" is on the horizon for all of us. I wonder if we will embrace it and see transformation or resist it and experience organizational paralysis.

I have a great friend who is a leader...The organization he leads has embraced a "Deep Change" mission statement. It is..."Moving with God Now!" I like doesn't leave any room for mediocrity or apathy.

So....I am headed off today to "keep in step with God" (and embrace change)!

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