Leadership for Organizational Change

  • Posted on: 12 August 2013
  • By: Tina McCoy

Effective leadership is leadership for change. While individual change is challenging at the least, organizational change is much more complex and difficult to achieve.  One of my favorite quotes, by Machiavelli:  “ There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things”. Don’t take the challenge or organizational learning and leading for granted.  Read this esteemed book by Peter Senge to expand your thinking on the matter.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge

This is the best book I’ve read on the topic of organizational learning in the context of the change process. Senge writes brilliantly, speaking to the heart and mind of the leader as he describes the ways in which organizations respond to stressors that inevitably occur. He underscores the need to abandon the ineffective concept of one individual who ‘figures things out’ and then attempts to lead his or her organization. Instead, he emphasizes the necessity to shift to a systems thinking approach that builds the capacity for collective learning and successful adaptation across all levels of an organization.

The Fifth Discipline brings the reader to a profoundly deeper understanding of meaningful change and improvement within a system. Senge empowers organizations to stop reacting to surface problems through a traditional ‘whack a mole’ approach and to instead surface the thinking and events that led to the development of those problems in the first place. He presents the learning process as a team skill rather than an individual endeavor, and combines this concept with a critical emphasis on creating a culture that impels members to act in alignment with a shared vision. It is not possible to fully describe the tremendous benefit of this book in a brief review such as this, so read the book yourself!  You’ll not be disappointed.

Caveat: This book addresses organizational learning in a broad sense, and is not specific to the field of education.