Tuesday, August 03, 2010

developing change leaders book review – Ch 7 Developmental approaches

I’m speaking to a group of church leaders on Thursday on the topic of mission as innovation, and again in a few weeks to another group on change, so it’s back to a book review of Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development. (For the review to date: Chapter one here. Chapter two is here. Chapter three is here. Chapter four is here. Chapter five is here. Chapter six is here)

First, great (amazing really) to see an opening quote (from Dance of Leadership, The: The Call for Soul in 21st Century Leadership, by Kiwi author, Peter Cammock.

Leadership is a dance, in which leaders and followers jointly respond to the rhythm and call of a particular social context, within which leaders draw from deep wells of collective experience and energy, to engage followers around transforming visions of change and lead them in the collective creation of compelling futures.

This suggests a focus away from leader-centric models of leadership, to the relational aspects of collective change leadership. Collins is cited, that great leaders have two essential dimensions – humilty and persistence.

Then comes a fascinating section (165-173) naming ways leaders can develop. Things like move to a foreign culture, shadow an arbitrator, become a volunteer.

This is followed by a number of case studies of leadership development within organisations. Let me take one, that of developing emerging leaders in the New Zealand public sector. This involved a development centre and a leadership program. The focus was based around a set of leadership competencies. The focus was an experiential learning through peer challenge, self-revelation and team learning in a safe environment.

Each person developed a portfolio, to document their learning over 9 months through the following stages.

  • Stage 1 involved identifying prior leadership experience
  • Stage 2 involved some input (a 1 week course) combined with personal goal setting around “lever” activity (self-awareness, learning as a leader, values and beliefs, interpersonal intelligence, communication skills, behaviour modeling)
  • Stage 3 involved leading a strategic change project

I can’t help putting all this alongside the leadership training I experienced, which was mainly lectures on the importance of vision and how it worked in a large church.

I begin to reflect that some of the “lever” activities are to some extent embedded in some dimensions of ministerial training, but need to be made more explicit and clear. I see the challenge of the modernist mindset that equates teaching with content rather than learning.  I see echoes between what we hope to do with our new Innovation stream in the new Bachelor of Ministry, especially Stage 1, the Introduction to Formation topic and Stage 3, the invitation into a practical project over the course of the training. I wonder what it would look like for a denomination to do this with their existing ministers and to think about the Missional Church Leadership course I offer, and did offer to ministers in New Zealand. What was the fruit and what changes could be made?

Posted by steve at 02:46 PM

Thursday, June 24, 2010

developing change leaders book review – Ch 6 The evolution of a change leader

A book review of Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs, Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development. Chapter one here. Chapter two is here. Chapter three is here. Chapter four is here. Chapter five is here.

Becoming an effective change leader takes time and requires change in the leader themselves. It begins with reflective practise. While authoritarian command type leaders are most appealing in a crisis (page 121), the most appropriate skills are those of questioning and reflection.

Research on change leaders show they hardly ever grow by formal development. Rather, they grow through things like watching leaders, affirmation of their own ability in the midst of conflict, first-hand experiences of the mis/use of power, leadership opportunities and facilitated reflection on their lived experience. This comes best through coaching. This should also include coaching others, due to the giving of compassion becoming a personal healing agency.

The book then summarises 10 dynamic capabilities for change leaders as follows:

1 – Develop decision making – specifically the ability to wait and see, keep an open mind and be comfortable with contradictions. Central to this is the ability to inquire, to accept that you are not the expert and that someone in your team may have a better insight.

2 – Access capability from across the team

3 – Become a co-creator of a learning culture

4 – Combine future-sensemaking with strategic thinking – digging deeper, reading widely, in a desire to appreciate the system and not just the events.

5 – Develop ‘total’ leadership – including authenticity, integrity and experimentation, at all levels of a person’s life

6 – Develop competency to work in diverse cultures

7 – Develop 1-1 coaching skills – eg micro-skills of building rapport, active listening, attention, sensitivity.

8 – Develop 1-many skills – eg micro-skills of dialogue, facilitation, process consulting, because leadership is about responding to real lived relationships.

9 – Emotional intelligence including self-awareness, emotional resilience, sensitivity, influence, intuition and conscientiousness.

10- Dialogue on performance.

The next 2 chapters set out to explore how to develop these capabilities. In the meantime, take some time to reflect on a change leader you admire. In what ways were these capacities in evidence?

Posted by steve at 06:14 PM

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

developing change leaders book review – Ch 5 Building a Change Leadership Culture

A book review of Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs, Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development. Chapter one here. Chapter two is here. Chapter three is here. Chapter four is here.

“we need to depersonalise and decentre the leadership concept, so that we begin to perceive leadership as a co-operative or collective enterprise.” (93-93, quoting Bate, 1994, 242).

This is a crucial chapter, providing a framework by which to develop change leaders. This chapter explores the shift from “I” to “we”; from individual change managers to “leadership culture.” It calls for a “walk the talk” in which leaders make clear the links between what they do and their underlying values. “Whilst heroes can carry the day in times of crisis, building a sustainable culture of innovation, excellence and achievement requires a collective and distributed, as opposed to individualised and hierarchical, leadership mind-set and approach.” (103)

Research into “leadership culture” is rare, with a lack of clarity about how values of individual leaders translate into action. How to influence a culture? There are many options, including directing attention to priorities, reacting to crisis, creating formal statements, telling stories, symbolic acts, design of work facilities and processes, rewards and sanctions, methods of decision-making. But which to use and when? They suggest a mix of the following (112):

  • role model the future, every day and in every way
  • foster understanding of changed expectations and their purposes
  • find and develop the ‘new way’ values, capabilities and behaviours
  • reinforce future state with formal and informal culture signals

This includes some practical steps

  • appreciate that change is complex. It must be embedded in behaviours and run across the organisation, not top-down
  • make modelling a priority
  • build in feedback loops (this is critical including “experimental, case study and real life observation of leadership” (114)
  • build team by creating an open table in which to discuss the real values of the organisation
  • creating a culture development plan
  • identifying key behaviours that have the best chance of making a difference
  • seeking out and developing change leaders and followers who represent your future

The more I read this book, the more impressed I am. The mix of research, concise summaries, diagrams and practical examples is appealing. The use of a strong values basis makes it much more likely to transfer to religious contexts. I suspect it will provide a fascinating way to discuss leadership development ie training of Christian ministers.

Posted by steve at 11:55 AM

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

developing change leaders book review – Ch 4 A Values Dialogue for Change Leaders

A book review of Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs, Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development. Chapter one here. Chapter two is here. Chapter three is here.

The chapter starts by marshalling a wide range of evidence for the importance of values in change leadership. “The management focus for the first part of the twenty-first century will be the management of meaning through the demonstration of values in management behaviour.” (62) The authors urge that selection of change agents include values, as well as experience and competencies.

They suggest a diversity of values are at work and offer some categories (77-81) by which a leader can assess their organisation and how their individual values might mesh with that of their organisation. (Anyone like to locate their church, and their leadership training, in relation to the grid?)

  • Clan. Family type organisation, (often seen in Japanese companies). Key word is collaboration. Values commitment, communication, development. Leader type = facilitator, mentor, team builder.
  • Hierarchy. Key word is control. Values coordinator, monitor, organizer. Leader type = efficiency, timeliness, consistency.
  • Market. Key word is compete. Values hard-driver, competitor, producer. Leader type = market-share, goal achievement, profitability.
  • Adhocracy. Key word is create. Values innovation, transformation, agility. Leader type = entreprenuer, innovator, visionary.

And the implications for change leaders? “leaders have to learn to communicate purpose and direction with a whole culture made up of different personal values, concentrating on shaping informal organizational life (emphasis mine). We might call this ‘strategy by the coffee machine’, consisting of dialogue about what we are told we should be doing, what are leaders are actually doing and how we feel about joining them to make change happen.” (82) “Effective change leaders must continually check what their heart, head and hands communicate.” (83)

Posted by steve at 05:18 PM

Sunday, May 23, 2010

where does the hope come from? words of mission in mission

Today is a transition day – flying from Maroochydore to Bathurst via Sydney; from Queensland Synod lecture to working for with New South Wales ELM centre (lay ministry training); from one-off talk to two days of rolling conversation around the theme of transformers.

Last night I talked with the Queensland Synod about a word of mission. (Update: summary and even audio are here).

It’s a (neglected?) part of Uniting church worship and I used it as a framework to explore my ministry experience with Opawa Baptist. What were the words of mission in our change process? What did we do in actual ministry practice as a result of those words of mission? What were the leadership understandings that helped our journey?

So I looked at

  • the Pentecost story and the word of mission in Acts 2:6 people hearing “in their own language and how that helped shape our multi-congregational model.
  • and the Parable of the sower (I used a children’s book, Bodge plants a seed, by friend Simon Smith as a encouragement to lead by nuturing green shoots
  • and the story of Mary and Elizabeth, as a word of mission to Elizabeth’s to speak words of courage and life to the new things of God in our midst and for the church to be open to the unexpected innovation from Mary’s

And I reflected on the leadership understandings

At times as I spoke I felt that my attempt to weave the word of mission and the ministry practice and the leadership lessons were too ambitious for an hour lecture on a Saturday evening after a long day. I wished I could have been clearer, but alas, it is too late once one is speaking! And my powerpoints were not good enough. However, there was good group interaction and some thoughtful questions and some fascinating after-ward conversations.

May God’s peace rest upon the Queensland synod.

Posted by steve at 11:35 AM

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

developing change leaders book review – Ch 3 What does it take to lead?

A book review of Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs, Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development. Chapter one here. Chapter two is here.

Chapter three explores what is required to lead change effectively.

One helpful insight is the fact that they need to be able to operate both on the church and in the church, to both performing public skills (ensuring existing functions like preaching, pastoring and organisation) and backstaging (engaging support, working with resistance, influencing the future).

Key phrases keep appearing – “deal with ambiguity” (44), “deal with ambiguity, paradoxes and dilemnas” (45), “facilitative and engaging practices” (55)

The danger lights, especially in regard to some existing church change process, are there if we want to pay attention:

“Might not the continual search for the hero-leader be a critical factor in itself, diverting attention away from building institutions that by their very nature, continually adapt and reinvent themselves, with leadership coming from many people and many places and not just from the top. (45 citing Senge 2002, 64)

When, oh when will the church get over the search for the one dynamic, command/control type leader. When will it realise that their is no magic bullet, that leaders need “not follow a set or common approach to the overall change implementation process.” (49) Instead: “It is only by learning new things about ourselves, our relationships with others and discovering new ways of seeing reality that we can start to implement new [business] practices” (49)

Research of 84 leaders shows “that effective change leadership requires the leaders to have a high level of Emotional Intelligence.” (50)

Over 100 change leadership stories (when, on when might the church collect 100 change stories and use them as one of the data sets for reflecting on leadership. Could we be part of this with the Master of Ministry), showed three broad groups of behaviour, and a subset of behaviours:

  • Shaping behaviour – lead by example, expect hard work and enthusiasm, personally persuasive, expecting accountability.
  • Framing change – working with others to create vision and direction, explaining, educating and communicating on need for change, giving freedom for innovation within broad frameworks, changing how things get done as well as what gets done
  • Creating capacity – developing the skills of others in implementing change, offer feedback and coaching, working across the organisation at all levels, ensure adaptation of reproducible systems.

The change stories indicate that while directive type leaders focus on the first, shaping behavior, this actually negatively reduces the likelihood of change. Yep reduces! By contrast, it is the last two – framing change and creating capacity – that bring long term change.

This data was reduced to four core change leadership principles:

  • attractor – creates energy for change by connecting with others emotionally to embody the future, creates compelling story, weaves it to make sense of the life of the organisation, seeks good of the organisation above their own, able to adapt their leadership
  • edge and tension – amplifies disturbance by telling truth, is constant in tough times, challenges assumptions, stretches people, grows talented people
  • creates a container – holds the tension around the change by managing expectations, faces conflict, encourages, creates safe space to take risks, seeks alignment of resources
  • transforming space – creates movement by showing commitment, is vulnerable in a way that frees people to new possibilities, breaks existing patterns and challenges systems.

I’ve just spent 3 days and over 20 hours with 15 students. The topic was change and the leadership question sat with me all week. How to develop these people? How to best use the time? Was this the best use of my time? Should instead have been researching change stories? offering ongoing and longterm coaching with a few leaders?

The next chapters might answer these question, as they will turn to explore how to develop change leaders.

Posted by steve at 08:49 PM

Saturday, April 17, 2010

developing change leaders book review of chapter 2

A book review of Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs, Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development. Chapter one here.

Chapter 2 The Challenge of change
This chapter explores the challenge of change. It provides a helpful diagram, linking change to what looks like a grief cycle – shock, anger, resistance, acceptance, hope. As with grief, people need time.

This includes noting the potential of resistance:

“Whilst resistance is generally perceived as being a negative within a change process, it is important to consider that resistance can be an indicator that change is having an impact. Furthermore, it surfaces the key issues and concerns which need to be addressed in order to ensure the effective implementation in the long run. Finally, resistance can play a positive role in surfacing challenge and insights which can prove beneficial in achieving the change goals or indeed discovering more appropriate ones.” (31)

Of course, to respond to resistance in this way, and be able to surface such positive possibilities for a change process requires a fairly unique skillset, far removed from “Well, this is what we have decided.”

It also depends on the approach to change, of which 5 are noted:

  • Directive: the leader’s right to impose change, which has the disadvantage of breeding strong resentment
  • Expert: generally applied to more technical problems, in which a specialist team leads
  • Negotiating: accepts that those involved in the change have the right to a say in how the changes are made. It takes longer, but equally is more likely to last longer
  • Educative: changing people’s hearts and minds. Again, takes longer but is more likely to last
  • Participative: while driven by leaders, all views are considered as change occurs. Again, takes longer but has far greater by in.

They note the shift from linear and programmatic notions, to emergent notions of change, characterised by the appreciation of the entire system, the acceptance that change can start anywhere (and the larger the system, the more likely that large changes begin at the edge), leaders as facilitators instead of drivers of change.

They then analyse over 100 change stories to conclude that change was successful when:

  • it was understood as complex
  • processes were used that genuinely involve people
  • change leaders have the skills to involve people.
Posted by steve at 10:08 AM