Surfing the Waves of Change
Great leaders ride the waves of change with agility, flexibility and foresight, shaping the future rather than being shaped by it.
WRITTEN BY: ADAM DANYAL
Change sweeps over us like ocean waves - some small ripples, others looming swells. As leaders, how we ride those waves defines our impact.
The temptation is to tense up as change approaches, gripping the board with white knuckles. But seasoned surfers know going rigid only leads to wipeouts. You have to flow with the wave, bending and shifting as needed. Great leaders take the same approach to change.
When new initiatives crest or disruptive technology swells, rigid leaders try to force their way through. They cling to the past rather than riding the future. But change rears up, capsizing their efforts. Just ask Blockbuster or Kodak.
Agile leaders surf change skillfully. They scan the horizon, anticipating new swells. When a wave appears, they paddle out front and jump up at the right moment. They ride the crest while making slight adjustments to stay balanced. If they slip, they recover quickly.
These leaders don't just react to change - they shape it. They mold initiatives to align with their vision, carving a path in the fluid future. Through commitment to continual learning, they expand their flexibility, range and balance.
One way they build "surfing skills" is by seeking diverse perspectives. Connecting with people across functions, levels and industries keeps leaders attuned to emerging trends. It also prevents rigid stances by exposing them to alternate realities.
Just as surfers practice pop-ups on land, leaders rehearse change-readiness through scenario planning. "What if" discussions flex strategic muscles while revealing potential blind spots. Imagining multiple futures taps creativity and broadens peripheral vision.
Of course, leaders can't control every variable. A perfectly executed bottom turn won't prevent a rogue wave from dousing your pride. But by flowing with change and expanding their perspective, leaders stack the deck for high-performance rides.
So watch the water and get your board ready. Changes and opportunities are always cresting. With balance and vision, you can successfully surf the future. Cowabunga!
From our Leadership Bookshelf:
WRITTEN BY: JULIA DANYAL
“In Surfing the Edge of Chaos,” Richard Pascale, Mark Millemann, and Linda Gioja offer insights on how leaders can ride the waves of change.
Effective leaders view change as an opportunity, not a threat. They don't resist change - they ride its waves.
Anticipating change before it crests gives leaders time to position themselves advantageously. Continually scanning the horizon allows them to spot emerging trends.
Rigid mindsets capsize leaders in periods of change. Expanding perspective through diverse connections provides the agility needed to flex with shifting conditions.
Change-adept leaders shape initiatives to align with their vision rather than let the waves of change toss them off course. They carve an optimal path through fluid conditions.
With an agile, opportunity-focused mindset, leaders can ride the waves of change instead of being tossed by them. By following the advice in Surfing the Edge of Chaos, leaders can successfully surf even the most chaotic conditions.