Leadership by the Book
In today’s workplace, there’s no shortage of change—and a quick search on Amazon shows there’s no shortage of books about managing change. For leaders searching for new insights and practical strategies for dealing with change, three books worth considering are Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, Adaptability: Responding Effectively to Change, and Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life.
William Bridges’ seminal work on organizational change, Managing Transitions, made the groundbreaking assertion that change is something that happens to organizations, structures, and processes while transition is what people experience in response to change. Suddenly leaders had fresh insight into why their masterfully planned change efforts sometimes, well, failed.
"It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. They aren’t the same thing," Bridges wrote. "Change is situational: the move to a new site, the retirement of the founder, the reorganization of roles on the team, the revisions to the pension plan. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological.”
Bridges, who died earlier this year, published the third edition of Managing Transitions in 2009, "revised and expanded for the new world of work." Whether you have a trusted older edition on the shelf or have been meaning to get your hands on a more recent copy, perhaps the most valuable component of any edition of Managing Transitions is the checklists, quizzes, and other tools that provide opportunities to problem-solve as you move through the book.
While not entirely focused on managing change, Kevin Cashman’s popular Leadership From the Inside Out is framed around seven mastery areas, including change and resilience. Cashman promotes a "whole-person" approach to leadership—that we lead by virtue of who we are as people, and this philosophy permeates Leadership From the Inside Out.
Leadership From the Inside Out is meant to be thought-provoking and may be best-suited for the leader who is keen on self-reflection and is motivated to work through the book over time. A chapter is devoted to each area of mastery, and each chapter contains questions for reflection, stimulating quotes, and a leadership growth plan.
Managers looking for a brief "how to" reference might appreciate Adaptability: Responding Effectively to Change. The authors write that this book aims to provide "a greater understanding of adaptability and the cognitive, emotional, and dispositional flexibility it requires. Leaders will learn how to develop their adaptability and to become more effective for themselves, the people they lead, and their organizations."
Adaptability is part of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Ideas Into Action Guidebook Series, and the eBook can be read for free online at EBSCO Publishing. This easy-to-read text includes questions for reflection and an action-planning worksheet.