We all recognize the doubt and uncertainty that precedes change. Whether we do so in business or in our own personal lives, following familiar practices feels safer than embarking on an uncertain path towards potential betterment. When we continue habitual behavior, we know with certainty the result; we face no risk, but find no particular reward, either. Stasis is comforting, but it wholly depends on all factors remaining stable, forever – a state any business person knows is highly unrealistic. For better or worse, our world is chaotic and demands economic, social, and ideological adaptation from those who live in it. We cannot afford to cling to our old ways and hope that change passes us over! Rather, we need to leap forward with the metaphorical tide and assert ourselves as transformational leaders, ready to adapt to our shifting circumstances with intelligence and heart.
Now, I don’t mean to say that this journey towards transformation will be easy. Rather, I would argue that the problem we currently face isn’t envisioning creative solutions to our problems, but making them stick after we implement them. In our personal and professional milieus, we tend to regard significant change with hesitancy at best and outright skepticism at worst – leaving even the best innovative practices to flounder under their disinterest. To step beyond complacency, we need to encourage our leaders to spark cultures of creativity and enact a widespread mindset shift toward celebrating new ideas, rather than rejecting them in favor of familiar practices.
On December 12-14, I will have the privilege of speaking about our need for transformational leadership at the Kuwait Change Management Conference. At its heart, the event serves to gather business leaders who recognize the need for transformative revolution and inspire high-powered changemakers to move beyond tried-and-true practices towards innovation. The context of the event’s setting in Kuwait, however, provides an interesting contextual inflection for attendees. The country itself stands at a crossroads; one path points towards a familiar economic dependence on oil, while the other winds towards innovation and reinvention. Currently, over 90% of Kuwait’s revenue stems from the state-owned oil sector, leaving the private sector largely dependent on government spending. However, any arrangement based on a finite natural resource is inherently problematic – and the recent dip in oil prices have spurred many in the region’s business community to search for alternative paths towards economic growth.
Old and familiar habits may feel comforting now, but what about ten years – fifty, even – down the road? We need to turn our thoughts to the future by finding ways to link and align our ideas for a better future. Our collective creativity and potential for innovation is our greatest natural resource – if we are to succeed, we will have to take full advantage of it. The first step towards change falls to our transformational leaders, who cannot be content with accepting change as it comes. Instead, they must pave the path towards change themselves and take the risks that others are too wary to. Where they go, countless others will follow.