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You can’t run anything and not be interested in management; what is it and how do we make people happier and better at what they do, when they come to work.

There’s plenty of management theory but I’ve become increasingly conscious of the theory-practice-gap. It’s a triangle.

The gap… 

between idealised theoretical practice and what happens on the shop floor.

between teaching the principles of management and the difficulty people have in making them work in the real world.

between the management theories people pretend underpin what they do, and what they actually do.

These gaps are never more exposed than when talking about the management of change and they are busted, wide-open when you talk about leadership…

…but… Covid has changed a lot.

Managing change is a battle with custom and practice, the way we do things, comfort zones, vested interests… a stack of reasons why it’s difficult. 

I’ve always hung my thinking about change management on one phrase;

People love change when they feel they are in charge’. 

The sub-text… involve people, talk to people, ask them.

Guess what…

… of all the junk that’s spoken about change and all the snake oil it comes embalmed in, ‘people love change when they feel they are in charge’… is true and it works. 

Covid proved it.

In the early days of the pandemic, all the standard rules of management were dumped. Indeed, the C-suite became redundant and many Boards, invisible. 

The front-line, under the pressure of numbers and dealing with what, at the time, was a ‘novel-virus’, in many instances, threw out the rule book, guidance, custom and practice… and changed the way things were done.

Force-Majeure? For sure. 

People took the initiative, sorted their problems, produced workarounds and went about their business, differently. And, that brings me to the second point of management-theory-failure. 

Leadership.

Conventionally, we are taught leadership comes in ten types;

  1. Autocratic,
  2. Democratic,
  3. Laissez-faire,
  4. Coaching,
  5. Transformational,
  6. Charismatic,
  7. Bureaucratic,
  8. Visionary,
  9. Pacesetter,
  10. Servant.

Don’t you believe it!

People rarely fit under a convenient heading. Boundaries get blurred. In consequence, the more we study leadership the more confused we get.

A coaching leader is often charismatic. As, can be, an autocratic leader. A transformational leader can be bureaucratic, or visionary, or both. Laissez-faire doesn’t mean the leader is not a pacesetter. 

I think there’s an eleventh type of leader, the sort of leader, on a battlefield, when a soldier, in the face of overwhelming odds, does something heroic. Forget the theory. 

Call it Spontaneous Leadership.

Boiled-down, this leader-type is based on empathy and compassion for others. 

People who rush in to help others in the face of danger and adversity do so because they genuinely care about the safety and well-being of other people.

These are the leaders we overlook. 

They are not groomed, or trained, or sent on courses. They are spontaneous, natural and most often to be found where the situation is at its most dangerous, most pressured…

Spontaneous leaders emerged on the Covid-front-line. 

People motivated by their concern for others, patients and colleagues. They innovated change, inspired, motivated and lead by example to change, fix, sort out and improve what was happening.

Tomorrow the Academy of Fabulous Stuff will be celebrating the change-makers and the leaders who inspired us through their experiences of Covid.

Tomorrow is Change Day. 

The one day in the year we celebrate the front-line of health care and their inspiration, ideas and new ways of doing things. 

Covid has shown us;

Real leaders don’t always come down in a lift, they are already on the ground floor. 

Good ideas don’t just come from business plans, they come from the experience and understanding of nimble people doing the job.

Change Day is always special but this year it’s a super-special Change Day.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, in the context that ‘there’s no going back on a good idea’, hundreds of practical ideas have been shared.

Tomorrow, Change Day is a Festival, showcasing ideas and celebrating success.

It’s on all-day, dip in-and-out, it’s being recorded so you’ll be able to see it when it suits you.

It’s a virtual festival and just like the real thing it has tents! Have a look!

You can even create your own play-list.

There’s lots of good stuff to choose from and best of all, it’s free and open to everyone

See you there…

News and Comment from Roy Lilley
Contact Roy – please use this e-address roy.lilley@nhsmanagers.net
Reproduced at thetrainingnet.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.