Think for a moment about Barack Obama’s election slogan, “Change we can believe in” and the chant, “Yes we can!” Here you had a candidate who captured the nation’s mood for change and rode it to an overwhelming victory. Yet two years later he was lagging dramatically in the polls with a distinct possibility of being a single-term president. It would seem that the man billed in the press as “the most powerful man on earth” wasn’t so powerful. Or else the people decided they didn’t really want change after all!
On the other side of the Atlantic you had a different scenario. The UK electorate was so undecided that they couldn’t make a clear choice. For the first time in over a half a century the nation had a coalition government. Yet after the shock, there was a kind of national pride in the outcome, and the new government rode to power with a remarkable sense of goodwill. Yet here also the headlines are about a government that has “run out of puff.”
So what happened?
You know as well as I do that change never happens just because someone in authority wants it to or says it must. To enable change you have to create an entirely new mindset that gives people a clear idea of how the change will affect them.
Yet neither leader has understood this. They have not been able to convince people because they have not been able to create a vision that enables people to see beyond the existing model. It is what defines their mindset. It boils down to what Einstein meant when he said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Paradoxically efforts to change the model simply opens them up to accusations of “lacking vision.” Neither leader has grasped that they cannot realise their vision within the existing model. It requires more fundamental, systemic change.
And as politicians they should know this. Shouldn’t they? So perhaps you don’t have to feel sorry for them after all!
Be that as it may, I am sure you are too busy to be concerned about politicians. However, before you move on, stop to see if there are any lessons here for you. Ask yourself, “Am I possibly guilty of making the same mistake?” You see as a leader or manager, change is the one constant in your life. Are you sure you are handling it any better?
No, this is not a trick question. It just requires a simple yes or no answer. And if you don’t know you can very quickly determine the correct answer by asking yourself a few fundamental questions. Such as:-
• How difficult is it for me to implement a new strategy or methodology?
• How much time do I spend sorting out people related issues?
• Are things as good as they should be?
If the answer to any or all of those is no, then the answer to the primary question is also a no. And if that is the case, then, by definition, there is a fundamental flaw in the way you are running your operation. You are likely to also be slicing and dicing with policy, looking to take more here and give a little more or less there, and failing to provide any lasting answers. You are addressing symptoms rather than causes. That is why you need a fresh look at the whole system.
Who knows, if you don’t your people may be thinking you are also “running out of puff.” And if they think that how long will it be before everyone else does too? So what are you waiting for?