The excitement needs little explanation – we need energetic, courageous leaders who will declare expectations, confront reality, say what needs to be said and then lead with passion and conviction. The worry stems from what I’ve seen to be true when leaders declare and initiate disruptive change, yet don’t stick around in their leadership positions to sustain the change.
The average leader in a non-profit industry stays in their role 3-5 years. school superintendents have a career span of 2-3 years. Sales industry leaders stay just an average, stark 18 months. Our transient nature as working adults provides lots of freedom and multiple career paths and yet the constant turnover in leadership creates a steady and unsettling churn in organizations. If organizational change doesn’t feel welcome, employees now talk about “outliving” the current leader and waiting them out. One may hear employees say, “Give it time and things will change back, or "This is just another program – it won’t last.” Sound familiar?
As a coach, the first question I ask a leader who is about to engage in difficult organizational change is, "Who is with you?" The second question I ask is how they feel about being there for another 7-10 years! Change takes more time than some people are willing to give. When a client is able to realize this, we can have realistic conversations about the type of change they are initiating and what makes the most sense from a sustainment point of view.