Pioneering change is the key for successful business leaders

Change is not encoded in the DNA of an organization, yet it is essential for growth. The key requirement is a visionary leader who can create a core team with a common vision and focus to spearhead change, says Tapas Gupta, founder and MD of BEI Confluence Communication and formerly president and CEO of a McCann-Erickson agency

Tapas Gupta

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg observed in 2016 that entrepreneurship is about creating change, not creating companies. Business imperatives are in constant flux and changing with the needs is what differentiates you from the rest.

Organisational systems and processes need to be overhauled and refreshed periodically because change is not encoded in the DNA of the organisation. Change can only be implemented by a visionary leader or entrepreneur who can set into motion the desired sequence of events.
The leader visualises the need for change and conceptualises the methodology or process to implement it. It is obviously not possible to both visualise and implement the change all on one’s own and naturally the leader has to co-opt a trusted team to do it, led by him.
The first task is to sell to this core team the ‘dream of the change’ and what benefits this can lead to for individuals and the organisation.  The team implementing the change has to have a mind-set and focus in terms of the strategy and the will to do it. There has to be complete harmony, strong belief and shared principles amongst team members that the proposed change will bring in the desired results in a tangible and palpable way.
Let us look at this shared model for effecting change and the likely strengths each of the three components bring to the table in the process of implementing this.
Renowned Harvard professor and author of Leading Change, John P Kotter, once said, “Successful change is 70-90 per cent leadership and 10-30 per cent management.” The leader or the visionary is actually the fulcrum between the team leading the change and the organization where change is being instilled.
These three elements interact, with each bearing an assigned role. The leader comes up with the statement, concept and procedures of implementation. Because a single individual cannot expect to bring transformation on her own, she must get together a team specially configured to fulfil this purpose and headed by her. To sell the plan for change, one must convey how the plan can benefit the individual and the organisation. A committed and sustained focus is required to put the plan into practice along with a great strategy and the team should act as one.
Change should be viewed by change agents and leaders not just as an occasional disrupter but as the very essence of management. The world and business environment is undergoing continuous changes in technology, outlook attitude and behaviour, and most importantly the consumer and the competitor. Therefore setting tough goals, establishing processes to implement these and learning from them is essential to change.
Disruptive changes in technology, attitude and behaviour of consumers and competitors have now become ubiquitous variables in the management equation. Kotter’s eight steps to bring change are — creating a sense of urgency, forming a powerful guiding coalition, creating an unambiguous vision, communicating it, allowing people to work on it, planning short term wins, consolidating improvements and additions and institutionalizing the new approaches.
Change is only possible through a process of disruption. Change agents are those dissatisfied by current state of affairs. They may be a bunch of professionals who are passionate about their beliefs, inherently not satisfied with the present way of things and genuinely believe there can be improvements, modifications or even radically different ways of doing things better and intellectually superior in the herd. Change leaders are people mobilizers and continuously set challenging goals.
The author’s personal experience in leaving a cushy job when required to go overseas and rediscovering his entrepreneurial side is a case study for change in itself.