Even during this coronavirus crisis
The thought of change can be scary, even more so during the type of crisis we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some business leaders are already implementing change in response to the challenging economic and operational landscape, many others are not.
Sometimes the writing is on the wall and organizations are triggered to change. In fact, members of the organization often are keenly aware that something needs to be done. However, despite that, management does not act, and the cost of inertia can be high.
Here are five reasons why leaders resist change and, as a consequence, struggle to move their company forward.
• They confuse important versus urgent. Leaders sometimes confuse the terms important and urgent. Important issues are those that do not necessarily have an explicit deadline, like urgent issues, but can effectively have some impact, large or small, on a business. The confusion sets in when owners and managers spend too much time putting out fires rather than planning. For example, the company may know that it is important to upgrade its operations. But it doesn’t become urgent until later on when the company looks at the output of its competitors that have completed transformation projects and have become a lot more cost-competitive.
• They lack courage/leadership abilities. Successfully initiating and executing a change process involves numerous leadership skills. It can be intimidating taking on such a challenge that, to some leaders, may seem like moving a mountain. Others are better prepared to take risks, confront reality, envision a better way, make plans, and then act on those plans to lead a change.
• They misalign the incentives. The incentive to change or transform organizations can be misaligned with the incentives of people who are in charge of leading those transformations. Misalignment of personal incentives can cause us not to act, even when we know it’s the best thing for the company. When we are in line for a promotion and higher pay, we certainly don’t want to take on risks that can potentially work against us.
• They lack support and/or resources. Not being afforded the requisite tools or the consensus for necessary transformation can leave a leader feeling powerless. This is a set of obstacles that many leaders run into. The powerlessness can come from the lack of company means, organizational backing, human capital, and resources to support the cost of a transformation. After a while, they run out of energy, or time, to make the case.
• They lack a method. It’s not uncommon for leaders to know the difference between where their company is and where it could be, but they don’t know how to proceed. In such situations, leaders often freeze up and put off the impending need to change, or they approach it through trial and error. Having a methodology is beneficial when taking on such an effort. Some leaders take the time and effort to learn what needs to be done, while others bring in experienced people to provide a method for leading a smooth and successful transformation.
Leaders must understand that there will never be a perfect time for change, but also that often the right change only happens if they force the issue.
Edwin Bosso (www.myrtlegroup.com) is founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and author of “6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey,” published by ForbesBooks.