Global warming is a widely accepted fact, with devastating consequences that the world is already starting to witness. Scientific evidence points strongly to human activity being the cause. Which means human behaviour needs to change, on a global level, if we are to prevent dire predictions becoming fact.
The Paris Agreement, designed to fulfil this aim, was adopted by 195 countries in December 2015. It was the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. Three years later, we see minimal progression towards the goal of reducing the emissions which are responsible for rising temperatures.
Why is it taking so long to make progress towards what’s been agreed?
One possible answer exposes the consequences of leadership buy-in failure. The current President of the USA, one of the biggest contributing countries to greenhouse gas emissions, was not part of the creation of the Agreement. He publicly states that global warming as a consequence of human activity is a hoax and has ceased his country’s participation in the Agreement. In doing all this, he has created a lot of confusion about the need for change. As a leader, he openly demonstrates behaviour that’s not in line with the Paris Agreement. This weakens the commitment of all the other countries when it comes to taking action.
Achieving change in your organisation
This high profile example demonstrates how change can be impeded through non-aligned leadership behaviour. It made me think about the various steps which need to be negotiated to successfully achieve organisational change.
- Strong and committed leadership
This is critical to accelerating change and achieving success. It requires high levels of attention, passion and focus. Leaders must lead by example throughout the whole change process.
- Shared need for change
If this doesn’t yet exist, you need to create it. Ask the relevant team and key stakeholders what threats and opportunities the proposed change presents. Creating a shared need produces the burning platform which builds early momentum for the change initiative. Dissatisfaction with the status quo needs to be greater than the natural resistance to change. Putting serious effort into creating a shared need for change forces any resistance or apathy to be addressed head-on. It also validates why the change is important and critical to do.
- Shape the vision
Once the shared need for change has been established, you need to articulate where you want to get to. This should manifest as a clear statement of the future state with the desired outcomes of the change. A good vision has the properties of being simple and straightforward, motivating and energising. And it should feel actionable. When the team is aligned around the vision, there should be a sense of “Yes, we can”.
- Mobilise commitment from the critical mass
You definitely need sufficient support and involvement from key stakeholders. Communication is very important, so speak out about why change is needed and where you are aiming to get to. Repeating the message over and over again will help. Also take time to talk to individuals to identify potential resistance. This helps create understanding of where more work is needed.
These four steps will get the organisation aligned, committed and ready to take action. A factor which significantly drives acceleration towards change. But they are just the start. Next comes the addressing and attuning of individual and team behaviour, which comes down to working on accountable behaviour – a subject covered in:
It’s all about people
At R&G we understand that people are essential in the change process. Success will only come about if both leaders and team members behave in a way that’s supportive of the change. We therefore apply our Change Acceleration Process (CAP) concept, which supports you in getting into action, to every programme or project we undertake. The effort you put in upfront will always bring returns in the speed of the change process.
As for the global warming issue, the question remains as to whether the necessary improvements can be made to accelerate the much needed change.
Roy Koers is a Business Process Consultant at R&G Global Consultants in The Netherlands.