We all know change. We experience change in the weather through the seasons. We experience change in our body as we grow up. We experience change around us in a world that never stands still. But how much do we know about the sort of change that puts things upside down? How do we cope with the sort of change that changes the way we look at things entirely? What should we do when our companies go through a paradigmatic shift?

Climate change is a change in paradigm for many companies

As coaches, working with companies that are at the heart of the challenge of climate change – think about companies in the energy, automotive and agribusiness sector – leads us to experience first-hand how radical change is exposing leadership to daunting situations, and the sort of challenges they will most likely face only once in their lifetime. It is literally true to say that such change forces them to reinvent themselves.

When tomorrow is a place we cannot fully grasp, when the old world is still very much alive and when the transition from one to the other is full of unknowns, of different possible paths and chronologies, then comes the time for leaders to think an unforeseeable future. For these leaders, coaching is an indispensable tool to explore this future that defeats the usual extrapolations.

New wine in old wineskins

The most striking observation in coaching conversations about these radical transitions is that leaders are often confronted with different sets of values that co-exist in the company, and that they need to see this as an expression of the change that is unfolding before them.

The old set of values that applied to measure performance is broken, but a new one is missing. Instead, different worlds often co-exist within the same company, where old and new exist next to one another – creating conflict and chaos.

Within the company, leaders and their peers are all equally immersed into a world that has become problematic to read, to understand, to project for their co-workers, and hence must accept that ambiguity is sometimes higher than they’re used to.

To navigate this world and successfully lead their teams through this period of change, new skills are required that involve communicating more, listening more and accepting that sometimes contradiction is part of our everyday reality.

To have an anchor in this world of change, authentic leadership is a must. Leaders need to maintain trust, transparency, and composure while the answers to some of the questions are simply not at hand. The old rule “absorb stress and give direction” will not do; but should maybe read “accept stress and keep talking”.

One train may hide another

Climate change is not the only instance of radical change in today’s society. Actually, in this beginning of the 21st century, there seems to be a conjunction of radical changes: geo-political, environmental, technological, sociological, that are feeding one another and creating in some sectors a sense that reality is unhinged.

In such times, leaders need more than ever to acknowledge their own core values and lead with authenticity and humility. Coaching is a powerful means for them to create a space for reflection, to explore what these values are, and find the leadership style that fits the situation as well as their own personality. Then, with their teams, they can set out to be the leaders of the transformation they are then able to embrace.

True Partnership coaches are experienced leaders that offer those involved in radical change a safe place to reflect and explore how they can be the best leader possible in times of turbulence and uncertainty. If you want to know how True Partnership could help you navigate radical change, send us a message and we’ll be in touch.