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Identifying Transformation Resources

Once we have the attention of a leader and have interested her in transforming her behavior or practices, we should be prepared to suggest vehicles for doing so. While some of the process of transformation can be done on our own, most people find it requires support from others or professional guidance. We will probably encourage a planned intervention, a selected set of actions that will help the leader and group move toward desired outcomes. The approach we recommend will grow out of the conditions we are trying to address:

If the issue involves group dynamics, such as a nonparticipatory, autocratic decision-making style, an intervention is needed that addresses team processes.

If the issue is personal, such as substance abuse, then individual counseling, rehabilitation, and a support group are indicated.

If the issue concerns abuse of power, such as the questionable use of funds, an intervention will need to establish external controls as well as address internal psychological issues.

Often a combination of interventions is needed to clarify values and vision, improve team skills and processes, and examine what underlies individual attitudes and behaviors affecting those processes.

Sometimes it is best for the leader and followers to go through a transformational intervention together.

At other times it is preferable for the leader to participate in an experiential learning process with peers from other groups.

In some cases working with real issues is preferable, while in others it is more productive to use simulations and group exercises.

Whatever permits participants to experience and name the current state, to understand the price it exacts, and to name and desire a preferred state to work toward can be a transformative vehicle.

Consulting with professionals as needed, courageous followers examine the range of intervention choices and select appropriate modalities to recommend. We have to weigh the pros and cons of different approaches. For example, if we are considering recommending professional counseling as an option, the advantages include its potential for getting to issues below the surface as well as the fact that it is privileged communication. A disadvantage may be that the confidential nature of the process makes it hard for followers to know what’s happening and inappropriate to inquire.

Whatever approach is suggested, it is often helpful for the leader and other participants in the process to have a clearly assigned partner, coach, or mentor—someone who is available to provide support between formal interventions. For the leader this might be a board member, a senior member of the staff who is respected for good judgment and fairness, or a former executive of the organization. Coaches can observe the progress of the transformation process, provide a reality check on our perceptions of change, and be advocates for the leader or ourselves as we each struggle honestly, but not always successfully, to make desired changes.