Changing Others Through Changing Ourselves: The Transformation of Human Systems

Change is not a word most people like to hear, nor are most people willing to admit they are the ones that need to change.  A key to change in others is by changing yourself first.  It just makes common since that in order to ask someone to change without being willing to change oneself first is blasphemy.  A true leader grasps this concept and runs with it.

This article hits the nail dead on the head in showing that change has to come from all avenues to make an impact.  The article talks about the Advanced Change Theory (ACT).  This practice involves change in both the leaders and the followers.  Instead of changing the system in which people are acting in this ACT calls for change in the human.  This is not to say that systems do not drive behaviors because the system is the main cause of behavior.  Instead this takes it a step further than the system and demands change of the people in the system.

Executives get stuck in the mindset that they need to change all the people under them.  They spend thousands of dollars each year going to seminars and clinics in how to change their own workers.  More than often during these seminars there is never talk about changing themselves and looking at what they are doing and how that drives the behaviors of the followers.

ACT demands more out of the leader than any other theory of change.  It requires the leader to achieve a high level of self conduct.    In other change practices people are told to change and most of the time they have no clue as to why they are supposed to change.  If they do not understand the question, why, then how can a leader reasonable ask them to make the changes necessary for change, most often very agonizing change?

The focus of ACT is to develop a new concern for the system and not the self.  This demands that the leader make an adjustment from their own self interest and to focus their interest on the system and the relationship of the followers with the system.  The article talks about many examples of leaders leading in this kind of matter.  It uses Gandhi, Jesus, and Martin Luther King Jr. as its main examples of leaders that lead in this selfless manner.  The main idea is “that their behaviors were consistent with their beliefs.”  This is the hardest thing for leaders to accomplish, but when it is accomplished there is no limit as to what can be accomplished.

Leaders need to always be aware of their surroundings.  They must be willing to make changes to their own viewpoint in light of new situations that may require a different approach.  Leaders need to be flexible.  The article makes another very great point in that once a person knows and practices their own personal values then they are not chained down by external forces and this will open up many new possibilities.  “A new vision for the common good can emerge.”  The three people mentioned earlier understood this to the most extreme extent and practiced it, two of which gave their life for it.

A great quality that Gandhi, Jesus, and Martin Luther King Jr. had in common was their understanding of leading by example.  They understood that if people see the leader acting in a way to better the common good, their followers will be more willing to follow suit.  Leaders need to build trust in their followers instead of trying to control them.  If you trust the people under you, much more can be accomplished.  The leaders need to keep in mind to never ask more of their followers than they are asking of themselves.  In the same manner leaders need to learn how to push the followers beyond their own expectations and they can in turn achieve their maximum potential.

The main point to bring home is to change YOURSELF before you try to change others!!

To view article visit:

http://www.business.unr.edu/faculty/simmonsb/badm720/notes720.html and click on Article on ACT change

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