The largest opportunity/responsibility leaders have is related to change. We must recognize when it is needed and when it should be applied. Recognizing the need for change before it is upon us requires great vision, while recognizing the timing for it to be applied requires thoughtful and decisive action. If we were to compare a growing organization to the stock market in regards to a bell curve graph, and then think of the leaders in the organization as the stock brokers in a stock market….. the success of both relies on the timing and execution of the decisions they make. Most would agree that it is impossible to time the stock market consistently, and the same can be said for leaders timing the implementation of change in their organization. However, there are great leaders and great stock brokers, and what makes them great is their ability to recognize the need for change, and time its execution.
Changing too early increases risk: Changing without doing a risk assessment is a failure in leadership. However, if we understand the risk/reward perspective, it may not be a mistake if we end up changing too early when doing so bears little risk, while offering a large reward. If we figure out how to minimize the risk, there are advantages in changing earlier than others, as long as we fully understand the downside of doing so and are willing to accept the risk becoming a reality.
Changing at the right time requires great leadership: The right timing requires vision, listening, patience, planning, and a willingness to operate in an environment where others on the team think it should have been done sooner. Great leaders do not make snap decisions in regards to sweeping change, which can be uncomfortable for others that have endured stress over specific situations. Our top performing team member’s tolerance for patience is much higher if we as leaders assist in the interim of large-scale change. Great leaders listen and help with a resolution, and then monitor the environment for the recurrence/potential recurrence of issues that support the need for change. The reality is that change is not the answer to the majority of issues. Therefore, the key is for leaders to be the filter and only apply change when it is needed.
Changing too late requires humility and intense effort: So the bad news is that “changing too late” happens. When it does happen, it is only a failure if the leadership team is not fully committed to both humility and leading an intense effort to make the necessary changes.