Circles of Change:Conversations with Dr. Zara Larsen on Change Leadership and Career Fulfillment
April 27, 2008
“Leading Change Can Change Leaders”
Anchoring Points: 1.The Paradox:Organizations often hire leaders from outside the organization (Outsiders) as fulltime employees to lead major change initiatives, as they bring:a) proven “know what and how”, b) external networks of “know who”,c) are unencumbered by internal ties (that can sometimes blind, not just bind), and d) opportunity to increase the firm’s change capacity.
2.The Reality: Despite successful project outcomes, Outsiders often and Insiders sometimes leave.Why?Different reasons for Outsiders vs. Insiders leaving?Do they lead change differently? Is this a “cannot live without them, but cannot live with them” dynamic? 3.Per recent research, Insider and Outsider change leaders share many similar attributes – change is positive, doing what is right, have a will to succeed, future focus, love challenge and big impact, are biased towards taking action, decisive, confident, persistent and people astute.Outsiders speaker more about taking risks and personal sacrifice. 4.Insiders and Outsiders often leverage different types of social networks(internal and external) and social capital (bonding and bridging) in very different ways.
How They View the Assignment
Bounded; a job, sustainable outcome for affected unit
Unbounded; venue for launching big, transferring outcomes
Sphere of Influence
Local; Loyal to enterprise and unit
Global; Loyal to change profession, Dedicated to the Enterprise
Passive; Voice, Legitimization
Active; Access, Value most obvious if lost
Relationships; Bonding, some bridging
Information; internal networks, bridging for counsel
Source of Ideas
Inside; Outside for special skills
Outside; Inside to co-opt and learn history
5.What about the outcome of the project as tied to the leader, his/her networks, and social capital?
Bonding Social Capital; Bridging Networks
Project lost sponsor; externality perceived as cause of project failure
Bonding social networks; Bridging Social Capital
Leader lost sponsor; he should have addressed externality
6.And the outcome of the leader after the project is completed?
Insider at Beginning
“One of Us” Bonding Social Capital; learned new skills, willing to lead the sustain effort; expanded networks inside and outside
Transformed beyond ability to regain social capital; means may have caught him in the end; Bridging networks attracted to leave
Outsider at Beginning
Another change leader role; acute self-awareness, transformed to fit
Means caught in the end; Legacy of how, not what was done; Transformed beyond ability to build social capital; exclusion
7.Bonding Social Capital is critical for the change leader to stay in the firm --
In absence of strong sponsorship, Outsiders seldom stay because so much social capital is destroyed while leading radical change.
Bonding Social Capital is like insulation from the negativity of leading change.
Consider having Outsiders first lead slower paced, continuous change projects to give time to build up relationships, and surround them with respected Insiders.
Senior sponsorship is necessary, but not sufficient.
8. Leading Change Can Change Leaders – Insiders and Outsiders
The mission can become bigger than the person.
Transformation can lead to “outgrowing” the organization.
Personal sacrifice can lead to personal growth.
Passion to lead change remains/becomes the career focus.
Acute self-awareness assisted by routine, honest feedback, coaching.
9.When you move companies, you start all over again to build bonding social capital; but, you can shift your prior bonding social capital into extended bridging social capital by investing time and energy – and exiting the prior company in the right way.
10. When you move companies, you start all over again to build bonding social capital; but, you can shift your prior bonding social capital into extended bridging social capital by investing time and energy – and exiting the prior company in the right way.
The detailed studies are accessable via our site Resources toResearch tab