The vision of a business leader is the expression of what the company is not and the leader wants it to become. The key is the sustained effort to change the way the company performs. Thus, we say that a leader is even more visionary as the discrepancy between the current reality and the vision of the future reality is greater. However, we are not accustomed to experiencing large discrepancies over long periods of time. “McDonaldisation” of the society imposes fast rhythms and standardized expectations. The change must be rapid and its results visible and predictable.
Studies conducted by global consulting companies show that 77% of organizations say they have a lack of leadership skills at the moment and 56% of them do not have the capacity to increase these skills in their leadership teams. On the other hand, only 27% of leaders know how to transform the organizational culture of the company.
Changing the organizational culture is an act of courage
Let’s take the example of a company where the leader aims to change the organizational culture. From the very beginning, the reality of the old culture is overwhelming. The seed of change that the leader sows does not seem to take roots and looks like another failed initiative. The vision does not seem to meet expectations. What the leader has expressed must immediately lead to results. Taking actions means courage.
The reconciliation between the projected and the actual reality is very difficult to achieve. On the one hand, there is a risk of compromising the expressed vision when new reality does not occur in a short time. On the other hand, there is the temptation to take action straightaway, to promise that the new reality is around the corner and not to do much. The ability to keep up with key challenges along with genuine communication within the company is the solution to this dilemma.
Leaders are the source of change in the organization
A company can only be changed if those who drive it change. If we accept that change is necessary and pose problems of adaptation, then “a problem can not be solved with the same thinking that has generated it”. The operating map of the company most often corresponds to the mental maps of those who lead it. How to turn a company if you do not turn yourself first? From this point of view, the transformation of the company corresponds to a ritual of transition, in the case of leadership, to the maturity of change management. Just like an hourglass that has just been overturned, the leader gradually breaks out of obsolete reflexes of action and translates herself/himself into a new reality.
The leadership structure determines the performance of the company
Like an airplane designer who has more influence on airplane performance than a pilot and crew, the structure of a leader’s thinking is essential to defining the company’s performance margins and performance patterns. Because the behavioral and thinking structure of the leader often impose as norms upon colleagues, if the leader sustains through actions what it means to change his thinking structure then colleagues will do the same. The actions and results that were not possible before are now. The promised future potential is likely. Changing the thinking structures towards reality generates results.
Changing one’s thinking structures is not an easy process. This process triggers the discomfort of giving up the known, but outdated, recipes of success. It refers not only to leaders but to each of us. It operates not only in the business environment but in everyday life. We use resistance to changing structures of thinking to protect ourselves from dangers and threats. Transformation occurs when we want something that really matters to us. In summary, becoming a leader involves abandoning the pattern of thinking blunted by the reality of change and redesigning a mental architecture compatible with change.