All too often the desire to show real Leadership when taking up a new senior post is challenged by priorities

All too often the desire to show real Leadership when taking up a new senior post is challenged by priorities

Michelle Banister, TWM’s newly appointed managing director, offers a few thoughts on the challenges experienced by a new MD on taking the reins of the company.

Change is tricky.

As a new MD, how do I best get people to join me on the journey we need to take to meet really challenging business targets?  It may be assuming a little too much but I like to think I have people’s hearts and minds already from my previous role (Operations Director) but if we are to meet these new business targets, we do need a different mind-set amongst everyone in the team.

Articulating this is one of the key priorities.  New people bring different ideas and approaches. I will be doing so, but my challenge of course is that existing staff are used to the way we have done things in the past. I think it’s fair to say that we all recognise the need for change. But, the tricky part is deciding on what bits we do actually need to change and therefore enable us differently.

How do we do this?

There is unquestionably some stuff I don’t want to lose. I know we need to keep doing some things the same – our excellent customer service attitude, our flexibility, our willingness to work together.  I’m clear about the fact that I don’t want to change everything but I do need us all ‘collectively’ to be different.

Kurt Lewin, who died in 1947 was one of the first to think about group dynamics and Organisational Development and gave us his change model “unfreeze – freeze”.

Lewin proposed a three phase process for Change. Phase 1 was called “unfreezing”. It involved overcoming inertia and dismantling the existing “mind set”. It must be part of surviving. Defence mechanisms have to be bypassed.

Moving on into the second stage is where the change occurs. This is typically a period of confusion and transition. “We’re aware that the old ways are being challenged but we do not have a clear picture as to what we are replacing them with yet.”

The third and final stage he called “freezing”. The new mindset is crystallizing and one’s comfort level is returning to previous levels. This is often misquoted as ‘refreezing’.

Currently, I think we have a way to go in Phase 2!