Friday, April 09, 2010

developing change leaders: book review of chapter 1

While nearly 2000 books were recently written on leadership in an 18 month period, very few address the question:

How do we develop effective change leaders?

Such is the task attempted by business lecturers, Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs in their Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development.

(Given that church’s and church leaders are meant to be into life change, I began to flick through the book. The more I browsed, the more intrigued I was, both by the clarity of the material, and by the extensive reading and practical case studies the author’s draw on. Thinking this might be a good resource, I opened my wallet.)

Aitken and Higgs use a key image, that of “sense-making” to argue that the challenge is not to find some yet to be discovered new golden bullet. Rather the challenge is to make sense of what we know. In chapter one, this focuses on the impact of organisational culture on leadership.

“In broad terms, our framing of effective leadership has shifted notably from the ‘Heroic’, leader-centric viewpoint to a more ‘Engaging’ one which focuses on working with followers to address the leadership of organizational challenges … In today’s complex environment, an approach to leadership which is more ‘Engaging’ appears to offer some useful pointers to more sustainable success.” (13-14, 20).

They suggest leadership is a triangle, made up of thinking, doing and being.

  • thinking is about a range of intelligences – evaluating, decision-making, planning.
  • doing is about the skills and competencies to envision, engage, enable, inquire, develop.
  • being is about authenticity, integrity, will, self-belief and self-awareness.

They then suggest the same triangle for the organisation, in which

  • thinking is in fact strategy
  • doing is policies and practices
  • being is culture, the social glue and the way things are done around here

This introduces the challenges of effective change. Research shows very clear links between an organisations culture and it’s performance. Other research shows that leaders have a strong impact on an organisation’s culture. This sets up chapter 2, which describes the challenges involved in implementing change.

Posted by steve at 07:26 PM


  1. Sounds good, Steve. Have you read any Michael J Quicke on leadership and preaching, and if so what do you think of his approach?

    Comment by Jonathan Gale — April 9, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

  2. haven’t read it jonathon. sorry


    Comment by steve — April 9, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

  3. Thanks so much for this – seems to fit in well with Laurent Schlumberger’s idea of encouraging Christians in today’s western societies to become witnesses. I think I too may have to fork out for this book – thanks for doign all this reading and research on our behalf Steve!

    Comment by jane — April 11, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

  4. Steve,
    Having read what you have are you glad you bought it/have read it or ???

    Rob H

    Comment by Rob Hanks — April 22, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

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