Change Management: How to Influence the Future

Embrace future leaders by tempering their energy and perspectives with the experience and wisdom of current leaders…

Many things are happening. Sales, strategies, challenges, people, opportunities and expectations all require a focus and attention that demand commitment and dedication to sustaining the work we do well into the future. When you’re part of a 135-year-old company, it is interesting to reflect on what the past leaders might have contemplated about future generations of leaders in the Company.

I think that past generations of leaders had less to consider about the future, and more to consider about how they addressed the pressing problems of their day, because they had fewer tools and technologies to make what they did easier. In today’s environment, we have all the tools we need to communicate, and thus, more opportunities to mess up the communications.

Growth requires a commitment to change, since growth is, by definition, change. We therefore need to put sufficient communications and explanation into a change initiative to ensure it is successful and well accepted. The goal is to coordinate a change initiative to make it easier for people to accept the change. I think this may be one of the most underestimated components of a major change initiative.

So, why change if it is so fraught with challenges? Clearly, change is the only way we evolve. Improvement, competition, and the need to commit to providing a better company for tomorrow’s leaders are among the motivations to change.

The part about tomorrow’s leaders is so interesting to me. Each generation of management in a mature organization is different than the previous ones. World and cultural events shape the future. Managers who went through WWII were different than those who didn’t. Managers who oversaw an expansionist economy faced much different challenges than those who faced a recessionist economy.

Our challenges today include rapidly changing technology, a struggling economy that is taking on social costs that are spiraling out of control, and a new generation of up and comers who approach things differently than most of today’s senior managers. One generation does not learn completely from the other. We combine our experiences and learn together how to change things for the better and for the future. 

I find it exhilarating. There is before us an opportunity to influence future legacies by embracing much of what the future leaders offer by tempering their energies and perspectives with the experiences and wisdom of the current leadership team. After all, that is how we got to where we are at, isn’t it?

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."

Lao Tzu

"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on."

Walter Lippman