Why Is Leadership Changing So Slowly?

May 21, 2021 2 min read
Why Is Leadership Changing So Slowly?

Why is leading changing so slowly? In this post, the Lazy Leader questions the value of leadership models and suggest that change starts with the leader.

When I started writing The Rough Guide to Leadership Models and Theories, I envisaged a series of articles about the popular leadership models, plus some additional insights on how to use these models in today’s organizations.

Now, at the midway (?) point, I am having second thoughts about the application of these models for leading change.

Why is this?

Because many models are fundamentally about what the leader should do to improve the performance of organizations and the people who work in them. That is, they are often about changing people’s behaviour, not changing the leader’s behaviour.

The Truth About Leadership Models

The truth is this:

  • leadership is about change, and
  • change starts with the leader.

As we have already seen, there are many models for leading change. Some are good, others less so.

But, they all have one common flaw. They all paint a simplified picture of change … change in complex social systems.

If you want to improve your chances of implementing large scale organizational change, just pick up a copy of Leading Change by John Kotter. Or, if you want to put into action a plan of continual improvement, read Reengineering the Corporation by Michael Hammer and Jim Champy.

Actually, don’t bother. That won’t do the business any good either.

The Truth About Leading Change

Let me be completely candid. Do you read about the latest fad or fashion—or worse still listen to the advice of the big consulting firms—before sharing some inspirational stories with everyone and pronouncing?

We are a learning organisation bla bla bla… we have an open and honest culture (yawn)… we encourage innovation and mistakes (sure you do)?

I could continue, but I think you get the gist.

This approach does not work.

These models for leading change that we often like to talk about only have value when we first change ourselves.

How can you make managers more effective? How do you convince people to take responsibility? What can you do to create a culture of trust and openness? How do you influence people to cooperate instead of completing?

The answer is straightforward. The answer is you.

Leading Change

You have to change. Not the organization, not them, not the team, nor the service, the function, or the business.

It’s you. You need to change first. You need to become a leadership role model.

And, if you don’t care enough to change, don’t expect anyone else to care either. So, here’s your challenge!

Leadership is showing the way. Leadership is so much more about what you do than what you say.


What are you going to do today about change? How will you inspire people to follow you? You are welcome to share your insight in the comments.

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