The Essence of Change

In a recent blog, I reviewed a passage from Scott Peck in which he claims that bringing transformation in another is a function of opening oneself to the inclusion and understanding of the other.  In this blog, with an apology to Peck, I rewrite his statement in terms of leadership.  Here it is.

In the process of organizational change, the leader must bring to a direct report the same courage and the same sense of commitment that is being asked of the direct report.  To do this the leader must share the risk with her direct report, by stepping out of the existing scripts in the hierarchal culture.  Knowing is the offspring of learning, but it is a child that tends to reject the parent.  What I mean, is that in organizational change, people are being asked to learn in real time, but in hierarchies people are expected to know.  This means that the request to engage in change is often outside the hierarchical culture and outside the script of the direct report.  It can be perceived as unsafe.

Fear hinders action, learning and connection, so the direct report will need vision, challenge and support.  The direct report needs the boss to care enough to model the vulnerability associated with learning and sharing.  This begins when the boss steps out of the hierarchical script of the boss and demonstrates productive intimacy.  The willingness of the leader to suffer intimacy and learning is the essence of change.  When the direct report witnesses such behavior the response is respect, trust, and appreciation.  The relationship increases in quality and is more valuable to both.

In the process each person takes away new assets.  The boss learns more than the direct report.  Since each direct report is a unique person, uniquely interacting with the challenge, each direct report has a part of the change puzzle.  The boss must understand each individual and integrate what they are feeling and discovering.   As the boss listens deeply to each one, the boss begins to grasp the commonality.  The boss begins to see the dynamic whole.  The boss acquires increased concern for each individual and the community and begins to formulate a vision that each individual is willing to grasp and pursue.  The boss and the direct reports delight in the new social order because it is a demonstration of the emergence of social excellence.



  • Research suggests that organizational change efforts often fail. What conventional, leadership scripts tend to hinder the change process?
  • What is the essence of change and what unconventional, leadership efforts are needed for social excellence to emerge?
  • What benefits are derived by a leader who engages in productive intimacy?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?


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