I recently grabbed the opportunity to listen to Bill Joiner of ChangeWise as a keynote speaker on Leadership Agility and take part in his great full day workshop on the subject, both organized (perfectly as usual) by the Greek Chapter of CEO Clubs International.   Bill joiner is a leadership expert and organizational change consultant, with 30 years of experience, co-author of the book Leadership Agility, and co-developer, with Cambria Consulting, of the Leadership Agility 360, the only online feedback instrument that assesses research-based levels of leadership agility.

Agility trust future oriented people systems thinking change crisisDuring these two days, however, I also seized the opportunity to observe and track people reactions (as I so often do) on the subject, and to evaluate them in combination with the current crisis and socio-political turbulence of Europe and Greece.  The current chaotic situation in Greece, creates a strong feeling of uncertainty.  This uncertainty affects mostly people who are future-oriented and do not live their lives day-by-day (click here for a very interesting video on future oriented people I suggest you see).  Future-oriented people are visionaries, they are innovative, they are change initiators, and they are leaders.  These unique characteristics, however, originate from their confidence and trust that their actions today will be rewarded in the future.  Should this confidence and trust be wounded, morale drops and solutions seem dimmer than before.

As if the above was not enough, managing crisis has the notion of urgency in it.  Urgency can be positive for change.  But it can also lead to a down-grated leadership model, where decision are taken – in the name of this urgency – from one person, without cross-functional advice, destroying feedback- and feedforward-loops, team-alignment and true Systemic Agility.

Agility and Systems Thinking is not an aspirin you take when your business has a headache.   It is way of living for organizations that truly understand the need to survive long-term and build sustainable growth mechanisms.  Only if the required shift to this new mental model and the notion of agility has gone deep down to the business core to its DNA, can the organization survive such sudden and destructive market changes as the ones witnessed now in Europe and especially in Greece.    Because only then the organization can change swiftly, as a whole (without breaking precious relationships and produces emergent values), and keep for its people the shared vision alive, and the confidence that whatever new changes are required, they will lead to new heights, new achievements and a better tomorrow.

As a consultant myself, my role is to truly be a change catalyst for my clients.  A catalyst, in the sense that I do have to initiate, take part and manage necessary changes within an organization, but furthermore to create a change culture, install all related processes, procedures and tools and then… leave, having succeeded in creating a successful, agile and sustainable organization which is no longer in need of my services.  And though this last part may sound unbeneficial for me and my company, I believe it is the only honest and candid way that any consultant can follow.  As change has passed from accelerating to chaotic, it is our duty to strengthen all the organizations and work with them to dump the analytical thinking model and move to a new successful future, a future that provides solution for the organization as a system, for all its stakeholders, for society as a whole.

Alex Athanassoulas