Managing Change in a Rapidly Changing World

By Marshall Goldsmith

Managing change is becoming more and more important every day for all of us. There is one thing that great leaders do when faced with changing behavior that many others don’t.

My friend, four-time CEO Mark Thompson, world’s #1 CEO coach and best-selling author of Now Build a Great Business, Success Built to Last and I talk about this significant challenge of managing change in a rapidly changing world in our interview excerpt below.

Marshall: Mark, one of the things that we both work with leaders on is this concept of change. Our good friend Rob Nail, CEO of singularity university, often quotes Ray Kurzweil, who said, “The pace of change you’re experiencing today is going to be the slowest pace of change you will ever experience for the rest of your life.”

Mark: Yes, and for the leaders listening to us how to deal with this reality of massive and rapid change is significantly important. Nobody’s immune to it.

I work with the biggest companies that are reinventing themselves and then the smallest that have disrupted those companies. All of them follow a principle that’s very simple but very hard to do and that is you’ve got to be a driver of the change. You have to drive change or be run over by it. Gandhi said, “You have to be the change you wish to see in the world.” How can you model that behavior in your organization? Are you willing to change as a leader?

Marshall: Let’s stop on that one. One of my favorite stories is about Gandhi. I don’t know if you’ve heard this story…

A mother brings her child to see Gandhi. She says, “Please tell my child to quit each sugar.” Gandhi says, “Please come back in six months.” She and her child leave and return in six months. Gandhi looks at the child and says, “Quit eating sugar.” The mother asks, “Why did we have to wait six months?” Gandhi says, “I had to quit myself before I told someone else to do it.”

Could you do that? Could you internalize that? Could you show that you are willing to change, to grow, that you can apologize for mistakes before you ask others to? This is what great leaders do.

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Mark: This is an example of completely leading by example. It is very rarely represented in people’s behaviors and it is a game change in the change world. You have to decide whether you want to be a creator of history or just a postscript in that history. You have to be the change agent. That is the only way to deal with the fastest pace of change in history.

What question would you ask people watching or reaching today, Marshall?

Marshall: I would like to know from people, what is your biggest challenge in terms of dealing with rapid change? And, what suggestions would you have for the people who are reading your comment?

Thank you for your comments!

We’d love to read about your biggest challenges in terms of rapid change and please help out your fellow commenters here on LinkedIn with your suggestions and ideas.

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