Leaders have never been under more pressure to accelerate organisational transformation than they are today. In a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) organisations need to be able to adapt rapidly to survive. This means that leaders must be prepared to make decisions quickly and effectively to lead their organisations through these disrupted, constantly changing times. Indeed, that has become the number one criterion for survival.
There is a substantial body of research that for years has been showing that the mortality rate of organisations is steadily increasing. In other words, organisations and businesses are dying younger and faster. Average corporate life expectancy in Japan and Europe is only 12.5 years. Average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 multinational company is between 40-50 years down from 75 in the 20th century. In 2016 in the USA public bankruptcies rose by more than 25%, a quarter of which were large corporations with assets in excess of $1 Billion.
Constant change has become the new normal for businesses and a fact of life for leaders today. To survive, leaders must learn how to juggle multiple priorities, manage competing demands on their time and adapt swiftly to their fast-evolving environment. This can be a challenge, as it requires great flexibility and creativity. But those who can rise to this challenge will reap the rewards and lead their organisations into a vibrant, prosperous and resilient future.
Those who resist change or who are unable to adapt at pace will find themselves struggling to keep up and eventually will be left behind. Leaders who want to succeed in today’s environment need to learn how to embrace constant change and use it to their advantage.
HOW TO MANAGE CONSTANT CHANGE AS A LEADER
Here are three tips to help you navigate the challenges of constant change:
- Be adaptable: One of the most important qualities for a leader in today’s world is the ability to adjust quickly to changing circumstances and to be responsive (rather than reactive) to new information and situations.
- Be flexible: Besides being adaptable, being flexible is also important. What’s the difference between adaptability and flexibility? Adaptability is a willingness to confront or change your own ideas and preconceptions whereas flexibility is more a willingness to meet others halfway.
- Be open-minded: When you’re faced with constant change, it’s essential to keep an open mind and to be prepared to consider options that may seem somewhat ‘out of the box’. Open-mindedness is facilitated by a preparedness to reflect on situations, embrace (rather than eschew) the unfamiliar and consciously seek diversity. Make a point of speaking with people who challenge your views and consciously consider how they may be stretching your thinking. They are doing you a favour. Ridged thinking can be dangerous in a VUCA world.
In conclusion, remember that today is the slowest day of the rest of your life. So, embrace change and find the opportunity in it.
 Source: P. Burns (2020). Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation. 4th Edition