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5 Ways to Lead in an Era of Constant Change

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People who choose to undertake a process of self-transformation always glow in the light of their achievements. They feel empowered, energized, hopeful and they wish to share their positive changes with everybody else.Even though self-transformation offers people a sense of excitement, there is one other type of transformation that does not have the same uplifting effect on people, namely the transformation of organizations.

Due to changes caused by globalization, changes & advances in technology and other factors, organizations are constantly forced to well…change.

Jim Hemerling, Senior Partner and Managing Director in The Boston Consulting Group’s People & Organization and Transformation Practices, calls this frenzy of change the era of “always-on” transformation, and he admits the fact that the process of transformation, when it comes to organizations, is exhausting and extremely stressful.

For this very reason, Hemerling has decided to explain why transformation is so exhausting and how organizations can fix it, in a very inspiring and informative TED Talk.

He starts off by emphasizing the fact that leaders do not always manage change appropriately. Change is hard, but some actions can make it seem even harder. Quite often leaders wait too long to act, which is why things happen in a crisis mode, or why everyone focuses only on short-term results.

Taking into account all the existing obstacles, Hemerling raises awareness about the fact that organizations “need to focus on five strategic imperatives, all of which have one thing in common: putting people first.”

  1. Inspire through purpose – most transformations have financial and operational goals, but in order to motivate more broadly, Hamerling believes that the transformation needs to connect with a deeper sense of purpose.
  2. Go all in – rather than just cutting costs, leaders and managers alike need to think about initiatives that will enable the organization to win in the medium term, initiatives that drive growth, actions that will fundamentally change the way the company operates, and finally, about investments to develop leadership and talent.
  3. Make use of the appropriate capabilities needed during the transformation period and beyond – real change requires different capabilities, different tools, different skills, different techniques. When transforming organizations, leaders need to be sure that they’re giving their people the skills and tools they need along the entire way.
  4. Instill a culture of continuous learning – includes changes to strategy, the organization and its culture.
  5. Adopt an inclusive leadership style – a leader needs to have a vision, a clear road map with milestones, and then he needs to hold people accountable for results. In other words, the ideal leader needs to be directive and inclusive at the same time.

Jim Hemerling strongly believes that “we owe it to ourselves, to our organizations and to society more broadly to boldly transform our approach to transformation.” In order to do that, he says, “we need to start putting people first.”


Jim Hemerling – Senior Partner and Managing Director in The Boston Consulting Group’s People & Organization and Transformation Practices – is a BCG Fellow with a focus on high-performance organization transformation, he is co-editor of Transformation: Delivering and Sustaining Breakthrough Performance, has coauthored columns for Bloomberg and Businessweek and has been featured in Fortune, Manager magazine and on CNBC.

Video source: Jim Hemerling (2016), 5 Ways to Lead in an Era of Constant Change, TEDTalks

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