Managing Change: What’s Virtue Got to Do With it?

changeThe only constant is change.

The only one who likes change is a wet baby.
Mark Twain

If change is always happening, and everybody hates it, what’s a leader to do in the midst of it?

Some changes are negative and some are positive but all change is disruptive. As a leader responsible for managing the change, you are both target and savior—you are blamed for the turmoil and charged with leading the people through the desert of disruption to the promised land.

Virtues are habitual ways of acting, behaviors that you can count on from people day in and day out. If you want to be an effective leader in changing times, it helps to practice these virtues:

The virtue of generosity
Resist the temptation to focus what people (including you!) are losing in the change, and concentrate on the plight of others and generously help them find resources to get through these tough situations. Generosity is a sign of greatness in difficult times.

The virtue of service
Identify with those whose lives have been turned upside-down and work to address their issues by marshalling the resources and processes to help those who are most affected negatively by change. Life-giving service gives people the keys to discover and use the treasures they have within.

The virtue of humility
During times of great change there is always the temptation to “circle the wagons” and blot out the dissenting voices. But leadership which is humble means learning from others and knowing that you are not necessarily the only smart person in the room.

The virtue of collaboration
Not being afraid of diversity, acknowledging the gifts of others, having enough self-confidence to work with other strong leaders–this will keep your eye on the bigger picture: the new shape, focus and impact of your organization post-change.

The virtue of appreciation
Even in the midst of negative change, there are things to be grateful for. Your practice of the virtue of appreciation will help your people remember that a glass that is half empty is at the same time half full.

Yep, change is bombarding us all the time and nope, not everyone’s going to love, love, love it. But if you model these five virtues of leaders in changing times, the course of true change will run a little smoother.