Change is hard work. It is usually preceded by a crisis or challenge and represents a defining moment for each of us, especially if we are in a leadership position. Why? Simply put, effective leaders are responsible for results. And, in order to achieve the right results, they are often called upon to challenge the “status quo”. When that happens, the need to change is right around the corner.
When a leader is reluctant to challenge the status quo because they are “comfortable” with where they are and the results they are achieving, they are positioning themselves and their company to a future disaster. They mistakenly think that their current status quo will continue into the future “as is”. This is usually referred to as “legacy thinking” and a failure to recognize it can be deadly to any business—big or small.
Legacy thinking involves holding on to the ways things have been or how you believe they should be and it can be dangerous. I recently discussed this concept with David Houle, a well-known futurist, who was my guest on my Nov. 5th radio show.
During our discussion of legacy thinking, we discussed Kodak. Many don’t realize that Kodak owned the early patents on the digital process before it became popular. However, because of the large profits being generated from their film business they ignored the digital marketplace opportunity until it was too late. Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE once said, “If change is taking place outside of your organization faster than it does inside, the company will be toast.” That quote, pretty much sums up one of the dangers of legacy thinking.
As a leader, one of your primary roles is to change the nature, shape and form of your company to adapt or to give it a competitive edge. The question to you is simple: Do you see this as one of your primary leadership responsibilities?
When there is a need to change, there can be confusion and chaos. The effective leader knows how to get his or her team on board and embrace the change so that the opportunities hidden within it can be identified and capitalized upon.