Organisations need to constantly change, and so do the leaders who run them: Jacob Morgan

Organisations need to constantly change, and so do the leaders who run them: Jacob Morgan

Jacob Morgan shares insights into leadership development and how leaders can get over status quo bias and lead well through change.


While few would argue against the need for leadership programs, most research points to one issue: leadership development starts too late. Without proper training, new leaders who manage to survive their first few years of transition often end up with bad leadership habits. How can organisations invest in developing first-time leaders (even on a tight budget)?


When writing my book, The Future Leader, I found that most people become leaders of some capacity in their mid-20s, but they don’t get any type of leadership training until their mid-30s or early 40s. This means that leaders spend around 10–20 years leading others without being taught how to do so! It’s completely crazy.


Every employee at the organisation should be given the opportunity to take leadership training and development programmes and courses instead of just making them available to a select few. Most organisations out there already have training programmes; they just don’t make them widely accessible.


However, leadership training doesn’t just depend on the organisation. Leadership isn’t about a title; it’s about your ability to influence change, motivate others, and get people to believe in your vision. You don’t need the organisation to allow you to do this. Meaning, you can learn about leadership on your own in your spare time — watch YouTube videos, take online courses, talk to other leaders, and so on. If you want to be a leader, then act like a leader. Start practising the skills and mindsets that I’ve written about in my book today.


Saying, “But we’ve always done it this way,” is like saying, “I hired you for your innovative ideas and amazing creativity, but I am the opposite: close-minded and inflexible.” How can leaders overcome their status quo bias?


The best way to overcome this is for leaders to surround themselves with people who are not like them. This refers to people who come from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures and also people who are more talented and capable than they are. As a leader, you not only want to encourage this, but you also need to demand it.


You need to let your people know that it’s okay for them to challenge you and question you. Avoid surrounding yourself with a bunch of yes-men or yes-women.


It’s hard to do, and it requires a lot of courage, but it’s an amazingly powerful thing that a leader can do, which leads to growth and development.


Many change initiatives start with a bang but run out of steam after some time. What can leaders do to keep the momentum from fizzling out and lead successful change within their organisations?


I once heard a great quote that goes something like this: “Nobody likes to travel to Disneyland, but everyone loves it when they get there.” Meaning, it’s not the change that most people resist, but it’s the process of change. In many cases, the outcome of the change is quite welcome.


Change and the ability to adapt need to be a part of the company’s DNA and culture.


Change isn’t a singular thing, and there is no endpoint. Organisations need to constantly change, and so do the leaders who run them.


First, leaders need to communicate that change is a constant as opposed to something that has a start and a stop.


Second, leaders need to embed change into the culture of the organisation and make it a part of its values. For example, “always looks for an alternative solution” or “always ask why something is being done a certain way.”


Third, leaders need to reward change, even if it leads to failure. You need to reward the behaviour, not the outcome. Not all change will yield positive results, and that’s okay. But if you want to encourage more change and more experimentation, then that is what you need to focus on.


Fourth, leaders need to share stories of change and experimentation and focus on lessons learned.


 Get a PDF of the skills and mindsets Jacob talks about in his book The Future Leader

Jacob Morgan is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and trained futurist who explores the future of work, employee experience, and leadership. He is the founder of and also hosts the Future of Work podcast.


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