Change from Within

Today’s guest post is by our talented colleague, and friend Cathy Taylor.  Cathy is a social media expert who helps businesses develop comprehensive communications strategies to achieve business goals and objectives.  More of Cathy’s insightful articles can be found on her blog.

It appears the economic recovery will not be as anemic as experts originally predicted. From all indications, consumers are beginning to wander back to shopping malls and restaurants to spend money. Earnings reports from major companies are showing signs of improvement and the stock market soared past the 10,000 mark for the first time since 2008.

While the recovery kicks into gear, it remains to be seen how companies are going to adapt to the changes that occurred over the last three years. One important issue: what kind of changes will be adopted by leadership? Will leaders resort back to the same strategies as before?

Photo by lonesome:cycler

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

One would think that after the struggles of this recession, most companies would be poised to chart a new course towards growth. Certainly, the leaders who have managed to lead through these tumultuous times are licking their battle scars and wiping the sweat from their brow. These leaders know they had to make some tough decisions that were uncomfortable and not very popular.

However, the stress of leading through change is starting to wear on managers in the C-suite and at the VP level. Chief Learning Officer magazine reports that a study by the University of Michigan School of Business and eePulse, Inc., found while leaders are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, they are feeling less confident about their own ability. Researchers say stress is causing leaders to doubt their ability.

Change is constant. Change is dynamic.

While leaders are reassessing their ability to lead in difficult times, leaders also must evaluate their capacity for change. Many of the tough decisions that were made to keep a company going may have long-term effects on trust factors among employees, suppliers, customers and even shareholders.

As a result, we must all acknowledge the world has changed. Part of this self-reflection will require us to look within ourselves to identify where change has occurred. If we are honest with ourselves, we will discover the need to make some fundamental choices to get to our authentic selves. That’s the place in our lives where we face our hypocritical self, as Robert E. Quinn writes in Change the World: How Ordinary People Can Accomplish Extraordinary Results. It comes down to being true to oneself; admitting we don’t always do what we say or act the way we should. This kind of honesty keeps us humble. The dynamics of change will require personal change within.

It Starts with You and Me.

Leaders have changed as a result of this experience, managers have changed, employees have changed, suppliers have changed and even customers have changed. It is because of these emergent realities that we understand the old way of doing things is no longer good enough. We want to grow and we want to be successful in our businesses, in our jobs and in our lives.

For those who have the capacity to lead, change that begins on the inside will pay huge dividends in how we manage our way out of the worst economic downturn we have seen in our lifetime. It’s certainly not over but some of us are finally starting to exhale. Whew!

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