Power vs Superpower: Can you change other people?

This is a real dilemma for every Transformational Leader: Can you change other people or you can only change yourself? The answer neither easy nor straight-forward.

“Let him who would move the world first move himself.” Socrates

Ancient Greek philosopher knew change in others cannot be achieved without committing yourself first to change. And that is true. You cannot gain credibility in the eyes of your people if you only demand their transformation but do very little on your own. The second argument for this statement is about the essence of team and leadership interaction. If you don’t think you need to change but insist upon others to be changed you have got the equation completely wrong. Because your people always respond to your actions, to your behaviours, and to your current way of operation. If you don’t change, they won’t change either. Therefore, you must start with yourself.

However, to be an effective transformational leader you must change your organisation. That is the mandate you are given to; you are signed up to. And guess what, your organisation consists of people. So, you must change your people. You must change other people.

The tricky thing is here that you don’t have power over your people (still you do have leadership power) but you can give them superpower. How? By role-modelling change and transformation (so be the change to lead the change) and by empowering others to change. Let me explore the latter.

The second fundamental dilemma: People resist change or people don’t resists change? People don’t resist change they resist being changed. You can choose to change, if you choose, you can change a lot. It is your choice.

How can you create an environment in which people change, people want to change, people choose to change?

4 powers leaders need to enable others to change OR 4 superpowers people need to have to be able to change by Bergman & Jacobson:

1) Ownership

Do they own the project? Do they own the results? Do they have a say and design their own change journey? Where are they in the change and what they do in relation to the big picture? The problem in many cases that they are not involved. They are not part of the co-creation. They have been told to change. So very little ownership is given to them in designing their change and transformation. How can you increase ownership within your organisation? Communication and involvement are the key words here. (1st phase of Transformational Leadership)

2) Independent capabilities

Can they do the things, the new things? Do they have the knowledge and the skills to do it? Are they trained to learn, unlearn and relearn? They don’t know how to renew themselves. There are always lack of information, lack of knowledge and skills. They are struggling to capture everything. Culture of failure is easier to say than to do it when companies see human resources as commodity and ready to sacrifice people on the altar of efficiency. Teach them how to learn, unlearn and relearn and how to renew themselves is the key here. (2nd phase of Transformational Leadership)

3) Emotional courage

In change there is always something people don’t want to feel. If they don’t want to feel that they will not follow through. Here very much our limbic system kicks in to avoid, and to protect us from e.g. fear of losing. Losing jobs, losing power, losing influence, losing responsibilities, losing sense of belonging and so on. Very instinct human reactions get activated here. So how can you build emotional courage in your people to ready to change? Fear is one of the most frequently quoted saboteurs. Remove internal and external blocks and saboteurs are the key here. (3rd phase of Transformational Leadership)

4) Future proofing

When we are changing for now only and not for the future then change/transformation is not sustainable. You need scalability and resilience in your transformation. Lack of perspectives kills not only the momentum but the energy required to ongoing change and transformation. Your change muscles need to be trained for not only now but there must be further stretch in it. How can you create an organisation which is always ready and able to change? (1st & 4th phases of Transformational Leadership)

If you are a leader, you have the power to help your people to gain these superpowers in order to be ready to change. You must create an environment where they will have these superpowers.

And last but not least change for the better, change for a positive future. Leaders shouldn’t come across as critics in the whole process. They should be allies for their people.

How can you be the best and strongest ally of your organisation in the transformation as a leader?

Should you wish to learn more about the 4 phases of transformational leadership do not hesitate to contact me at beata@beatakalamar.com.


Source: Transformational Leadership by Beáta Kalamár, You can change other people: 4 steps to up their game by Peter Bergman & Howard Jacobson 11th WBECS

Go back...