Supporting a Leader Through Change

My intention in writing this article is to share my reflections on how consultants can best support leaders who are addressing organizational change.  Given our current insights as to the importance of leader behavior (relational skills, emotional intelligence, social networking, the ability to create new architectures for change etc) supporting the leader (as the intervener) represents a great point of leverage.  Having a framework for how change occurs and a grasp of a few, reliable touchstones for when and how to enter a consulting relationship, have been critical to my learning over 25 years and the hallmark of a few success stories. This article, which builds on the work of Peter Block, Peter Koestenbaum, Bob Marshak, Edie and Charlie Seashore and others, emphasizes the quality of the relationship between the consultant and the leader, and how the consultant may use this relationship as a gateway to bring value to each situation. To deepen my own understanding of how change happens, I created a model of the dynamic and repeating patterns of relationships and complexities between the internal and external forces at play in the midst of change.  This model helps me to anticipate some of the variables that the leader and I may need to consider. For the purpose of this article my discussion of the model is limited to an exposition of questions to be explored as the leader and I address the work of each phase.  And, while the model may suggest a linear unfolding, the questions that I pose may become pertinent at any stage of the engagement.