LEADERSHIP & CULTURE: AUTHENTIC VS COSMETIC CHANGE
A diverse group of leaders from three generations, representing finance, telecoms, tech, maritime, retail, higher education and government gathered to share their experiences and the challenges of leading culture change in their organisations.
The leadership priorities of the delegates were varied, including innovation, creativity, digitalisation, corporatisation, ethics and governance, major turnarounds and restructuring, and family business succession. The discussion highlighted a number of common themes in leading authentic change, regardless of the driving forces:
Purpose, Values & Trust
Building trust starts with alignment from Board level through the leadership ecosystem on values and purpose. Leaders need to walk the talk, role model the behavior, and recognise/reward these behaviours in others.
Meaning & Empathy
Change can be a painful process, but when people find personal meaning in the desired outcome, they are more willing to buy into the journey. Leaders need to understand how to tap into personal values to unlock the motivation to change behaviours.
An effective leader needs to be able to demonstrate results quickly. Yet, it takes time to define purpose and values that are true to the organisation, integral to the strategy and meaningful for your people. It takes even longer to instill values and shift mindsets and behaviours. Time may be a limited resource, but taking shortcuts can waste a great deal of time, money and goodwill, leaving an organisation even worse off.
Accountability & Measurement
Some of what we might consider cosmetic change is important for signaling intentions and inspiring people around objectives. Problems arise if this is ‘all talk and no walk’. Leaders need to be willing to challenge each other to be accountable and measure results as core strategic KPIs.
Transformation journeys are inevitably accompanied by paradoxes, tensions and setbacks. In this moment of transition and uncertainty for the country as a whole, it was inspirational to hear the self-reflection, vision, tenacity and, most of all, the good humour of the delegates.
We wish Malaysia and its leaders the best in the journey ahead.