In reading and reflecting on chapter 2 “Experiencing Slow Death” of Robert E. Quinn’s book Deep Change, there were so many jewels but a few that stood out to me the most were:
- Transforming conflict into collaboration is the essence of leadership.
All organizations have some form of conflict. How a leader views and approaches the conflict is key. Quinn used the example of the Toyota and GM collaboration. The fact that GM saw conflict and Toyota saw an opportunity became transformational for that organization. While there is not one solution to approaching conflict, I think the key takeaway for me was that conflict can be transformed into collaboration and influencing that transformation is what I need to do as a leader.
- The difference between management and leadership. Organizations need people who can actually lead the deep change process. This means reaching hearts as well as heads.
In my field of work, crunching numbers and have data to support decisions happens every hour of every day. However, as a leader we must look beyond the numbers and the data to see the people behind them. To holistically evaluate an organization in order to invoke deep change.
- The deep change process involves taking risks and learning how to live in new ways. Because the learning process is interactive, it cannot be controlled, only influenced.
Control vs. Influence. How often do leaders confuse those two? It is a struggle to be self-aware and know when you are controlling and not effectively influencing. Control comes into play when there is fear and lack of trust. It is an easy fall back for security but it hurts more than helps. I want to work on doing more influencing and empower my teams not control them.
- We must interact with the change process. Through this interaction we experience the regeneration and reenergizing of the organization. The more we do this, the more we understand that we are actually “making it up” as we go along.
This one was powerful for me. It is often the case that as a leader we assume by conveying the vision of the change and then watch it take place. However, it was a great reminder that we have to actively engage in the change process and be willing to “make it up” as we go along. It is not a static plan but a dynamic one that is flexible and has the ability to pivot when necessary.
Let’s talk Moneyball
One of my favorite movies is Moneyball. I bought this movie 7 years ago on Amazon because it was motivational. Billy Beane’s ability to pivot and adjust to bring deep change was monumental to the Oakland A’s. I watch it occasionally so that I can find peace in empathizing with Beane and motivate myself to think differently, work hard to influence others in the right direction and never give up. Furthermore, Billy as a General Manager was willing to take risks. He transformed the game of baseball by developing a strategy that empowered his players to exercise strengths they didn’t even know that they had. It wasn’t a simple feat. He had to interact with the change process working with his coaches and consistently convincing his players. He could not just state his goals and sit back in his office and hope that it would work. He had to take an active role every step of the way. Billy transformed conflict into collaboration. In the end, he gained more than he lost in the beginning.
I will conclude my post by answering the question Quinn posed at the end of his second chapter. “What are one or two actions you will take from what you have learned in this chapter as the next steps on your journey of mastering the deep change process?”
The first action is that I must continue growing. If I stop growing as a person, then I will not be an effective leader or influencer. Instead, I will be moving towards a slow death. This will only harm me, the organization I serve and the individuals I lead. So the action I will take is a daily assessment of how I am aligning with my personal goals and continuing to challenge myself to grow as a leader. In addition, I will be looking for opportunities to influence my teams in the direction they should go. Empowering them by influence and relinquishing control so that they can thrive as a whole and health group.
Second action, I will be working with my leadership team to embrace pivoting when necessary and avoid the security of incremental change that only slows down the death but does not stop it. Incremental change can be good in some cases but it is not a remedy when major change(s) need to take place. It can create more conflict that will interfere with acceptance and adoption of the change needed to grow in the right direction.
Applying this action is what this whole program is about. We are practitioners who are called to serve in a variety of areas. To only read/reflect and not apply is detrimental to being an effective servant leader. My hope is to be a better leader today than I was yesterday.
 Robert E. Quinn, The Deep Change Field Guide a Personal Course to Discovering the Leader within (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2012), 32.
 Ibid, 33.
 Ibid, 39.
 Ibid, 46.