Time and Tide - Leading change when change is inevitable.

Written by David Pullan

Time and Tide - Leading change when change is inevitable.

So here we are in uncharted territory. The UK has entered the post Brexit world and it looks as if the only winners will be the bakery industry as they prepare supplies for an almighty bun fight.


Quite what will happen is anyone’s guess, but it is safe to say that change is here and here to stay.


This morning I bought The Big Issue from a seller at Victoria Station and my eye was drawn to an article called ‘How to watch the tide.’


The author, Hugh Aldersley-Williams has written a book entitled ‘Tide: The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth.’ In it he talks about the regularity of the tidal cycle and its inevitable ebb and flow. However he also says that, ‘Although [the cycle] is regular, the movement of the water within each cycle is not. It is full of detail. What really is the journey of each splash of sea water?’


As I sat and thought about this I reflected on how the change we are undergoing on a national level, and indeed any change, has similarities to a tidal cycle. Certainly we can see it as a mega shift, but the reality is that it is individuals who are going to be affected. Those individuals are like the splashes of water and they are full of detail and complexity. As a result we need to find a way to manage the hopes and fears of people if we are going to successfully lead the way through any change.


I’d like to suggest three ways that this can be done.


I think the first stage is creating a framework whereby the stories of the people can be told and heard. This is vitally important before any change is implemented, and arguably the UK referendum would have taken a different course if the voices of the disaffected had been heard before the poll. However it is also imperative that the stage for story telling is maintained as the change progresses. People need to be heard, acknowledged and understood. Change isn’t merely a process, it affects real living beings with hopes, dreams and fears.


Once those stories are heard then a leader needs to be able to communicate an inspiring purpose. They need a strong strategy story that will connect to both hearts and minds.


Finally those leaders need the story telling skills that will engage influence and inspire as the change progresses.


The world is crying out for people who can do these things, and can do them for the good of all. If businesses that are undergoing change can learn and lead the way then we may not get swamped by the incoming waves.


So remember this: change may be the tide but it is the individual splashes of water that are buffeted in the surging sea.


Listen to your individuals, tell them a story for good and tell it to them well.


Do these things and we may get through this in one piece.






photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/37928783@N00/27801091770">Perspectives of Tentsmuir Beach</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>


  • W B Yeats

    'Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.'