A Leader Causes Change in Culture
For a communications class a few of my classmates and I decided to each write a blog post about, “How to change the culture of an organization”, potentially addressing subtopics like helping others to deal with change, how to change ways of thinking, and how to develop new perspective amongst differing levels of relationships, i.e. working for an authority or being an authority.
As simply as I can say it, I find this a seriously troubling subject. My mind reels to all the different elements in which I’ve learned, or at least heard something, about change. Business, philosophy, religion, psychology, culture, communication, evolution, just to name a few. Each one of these critiques has a different perspective to offer because of how unique its critique is to its own context. At least we can therefore assume that change is extremely important because it’s talked about across so many schools of thought. Since we’re talking about how to change the culture of an organization, I’ll focus on communications and more business-like ideas, and also because that’s where my experience is.
In communication studies we learn a lot about rhetoric, read and write a lot, and learn, ultimately, how to become more competent in communication. Becoming more competent in communication requires change, and as big of a topic as that is, I’ve found empowerment in a few of Professor Clair Canfield’s words. Anything in quotations are his words while the rest is my own extrapolation on these principles.
“The first step to change is awareness.” External forces will act on you and inevitably cause change, but for intentional change to occur, you must first be aware of the thing you want to change. Awareness is certainly empowering, but it’s not enough. A classic example is that of a smoker. Most smokers knows they’re destroying their lungs, increasing their risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, ultimately decreasing their potential lifespan. But guess what? How many times have you tried to tell a smoker it’s killing them, and not seen anything avail from it? It’s because awareness is the only the first, but still essential step. Next, a person must be willing.
I was shocked when Professor Canfield asked us, “How does a personal become willing, though?” After thinking it through, we all realized how ignorant of the concept we were. “Willingness comes from two things. Beauty, and affliction.”
You can see the beauty in something so much that it inspires you to change something in your life to achieve that beauty. The alternative is that you’ve become so afflicted or so pained by something that you can no longer deal with it, and thus, must change something.
This principle is likewise helpful in context of an organization. Take for example a sales team. Promise them higher commissions for their sales (seeing more beauty) and they’re likely to work longer and harder. When I started Motilek I was captured by the satisfaction (beauty) of creating my own unique product and creating a business around it.
On the other hand, dropping revenues, an unpleasant conversation with a supervisor or subordinate, the potential of being demoted, losing a raise or other prosperous opportunity are just as possible to cause change. No one wants to sit in a life of pain and too much stress, and hopefully, that affliction can motivate that person enough to stand up and fight against it.
The key to creating awareness to affliction and beauty, though, is a competent and persuasive spokesperson who can communicate the consequences of both to an organization. A person who can do that and do it well has the power to create change, and I would certainly argue, is called a leader.
Check out these links for more cool info on leaders and change.