Bill George introduces “Getting Change Right”

I am proud to have Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO, and best-selling author, writing the introduction for my new book, Getting Change Right. Here is the full text as it will appear in the book:

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.”

So said Winston Churchill as he helped guide the Allies through the mire of World War II. Has there been another period since when we found ourselves in greater need of political and business leaders who can heed these words?

Our country’s leaders stare down a dismantled financial system and continue to step over the ruins of once-great institutions like Lehman Brothers and General Motors, now bankrupt. To act according to Churchill’s adage and “get change right,” a new generation of leaders must step forward and possess not only an understanding of the areas where change is necessary, but a concept of what form that change must assume.

In my career, I’ve witnessed firsthand different ways that leaders (myself included) attempted to steer their organizations and people through difficult changes. Whether it was the introduction of an innovative new product line or an attempted alteration of entrenched corporate culture, the challenge came not in pinpointing the areas for improvement, but in understanding precisely how to enact lasting solutions to achieve the best end result.

Sometimes we got it right, and sometimes we didn’t. In Getting Change Right, Seth Kahan has developed a series of principles and insights for today’s leaders as they navigate difficult changes in their organizations.

At a time when our country’s leaders need guidance on enacting change—from a long-overdue cull of rewarding short-term practices on Wall Street to a dismantling of the partisan stalemate on Capitol Hill—Seth has emerged with a beacon for today’s leaders and their teams. For everyone from CEOs to mom-and-pop operators, change will come, and Kahan’s insights can help them prepare for its arrival.

As a former CEO, I find a great deal of value in Seth’s approach. By pairing precise step-by-step guidelines with firsthand accounts and academic insights, he has created a no-nonsense reference for first-time leaders and veteran managers alike. What I found most helpful is the book’s accuracy around dealing with the variable personalities you’ll find in a given company. In every lesson, Seth takes into consideration the human elements—the egos, the intricacies of teamwork, and the true spurs for personal motivation—that make or break any corporate undertaking, let alone monumental change.

Calling on expertise and insight honed by years of top-tier management consulting and thought leadership, Seth writes with warm savvy and a rare technical expertise that informs leaders on how they can strategically and logistically enact change the first time around.

Leaders who desire to enact effective, lasting change must be prepared for long-term dedication to their company, and Seth demonstrates how leaders can do so with their values, and leadership teams, intact. I’ve explored authentic leadership values throughout my career and devoted my teaching career to helping future leaders at Harvard Business School develop a concept of “true north,” an internal compass of our beliefs, values, and principles that guide us through life. From his thoughts on “Energizing Your Most Valuable Players” to “Breaking Through Logjams,” Seth’s writing conveys the words and insight of a man who has seen authentic leadership in action.

Seth not only calls on his own vast academic and professional leadership experience, but enlists the firsthand perspectives and anecdotes of other leadership authorities as well. He has amassed a comprehensive guide on change leadership in accordance with one of his own major precepts: enlisting the insights of others to create rapid, widespread engagement. Seth Kahan is a writer who puts his money where his mouth is.

Want to know how to improve your organization’s flexibility and responsiveness? Refer to the six pieces of advice Seth gives on that very subject, which are applicable across any organization or team. Want to know how to find and inspire talented team members? Turn to Chapter Three for a step-by-step guide on how leaders can challenge and motivate top performers to a desired end.

In my career, I’ve discovered that crises offer the prime opportunity for leaders to enact the change they want to see. It is imperative that leaders today recognize the need for institutional change while remaining undaunted by its inevitability. The sailing may not always be smooth, but it will be forward motion. The best leaders know that is sometimes the best they can hope for. And that’s what Seth aptly teaches us all in Getting Change Right. In the final chapter, Seth explores what he calls WorkLifeSuccess, a concept that speaks to the necessity of balance across work life and home life to achieve success in both.

I would not have been nearly as successful or content across my career without my support network of family and friends or the work-life balance I eventually achieved. Values-driven, perspective-enriched leadership does not occur automatically; I believe it is possible only once a leader establishes the sort of balance Seth advocates. Authentic leaders who are capable of getting change right the first time establish equilibrium between the important facets of their work and home lives, as Seth makes clear in his conclusion.

This, I believe, is the crux of Getting Change Right. When striving to enact needed changes in a responsible and decisive way, get the passion, get the know-how, and work diligently to find the right balance for your company and its stakeholders. Thanks, Seth, for a refreshing lesson in change leadership—and good luck to all of you on your changes ahead.

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One Response to “Bill George introduces “Getting Change Right””

  1. JOYEUX ANNIVERSAIRE NANA !!!Nous vous souhaitons une excellente sanuteac&te;!Merci pour toutes ces années de bonheur !Continuez encore longtemps à nous enchanter !!Sincères amitiés !

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