This is part of a long series in a number of postings based on the Spring 2009 Issue of OnPoint (from the Harvard Business Press) dedicated to Risk Management.
Specifically, this particular post is the 3rd of several relating to my review of the article: A Survival Guide for Leaders by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (both professors at the Kennedy School at Harvard and authors of Leadership on the Line).
So, what to do in such Adaptive Leadership situations? The authors offer two sets of suggestions…what I would call defense and offense…how do you (as a transformational change agent) protect yourself from internal threats and how to keep yourself buoyed up in the face of opposition that is as inevitable, if you’re doing what’s best for the organization, as the sun coming up.
Defense—It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you!
1. Make no mistake. If you are changing people’s ways of doing things, they will feel a sense of loss and incompetence. It’s not change they fear but the loss they will experience as a result of the change. And they will NOT like that uncomfortable change or YOU, as the instigator or catalyst of change. And they will come at you with all the tools they have: whispers, slander, co-opting techniques…these tools are varied and many.
2. The balcony: The authors entreat leaders to get off the dance floor and going to the balcony, which means getting out of the daily grind and toil and becoming and observer-participant. Stepping back…and seeing what’s going on. In classroom settings we tell teachers to become researchers…when a student reacts a certain disruptive way, ask “Why is this happening?”
3. In this article, the authors suggest other defensive strategies worth reading and understanding: Court the Uncommitted, Cook the Conflict, Place the work where it Belongs.
In the next post see what to do for offense.