By Dr. Tim Glaid

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. – Georg C. Lichtenburg

In my lifetime, the following charts the Presidential Election Results, complete with party affiliation:

Eisenhower                            53-61                   Republican

Kennedy/Johnson                 61-69                   Democratic

Nixon/Ford                              69-77                   Republican

Carter                                     77-81                   Democratic

Reagan                                   81-89                   Republican

Bush (41)                                89-93                   Republican

Clinton                                    93-01                   Democratic

Bush (43)                                01-09                   Republican

Obama                                    09-17                   Democratic

Trump                                     17-21                   Republican

Biden                                       21-present          Democratic

It does not take a genius to realize there is a direct pattern created (with one minor deviation), where the will of the people prefer and do vote for party CHANGE every four or eight years.  Candidates for political offices have perfected the way to disparage their opponents, particularly focusing on negative events or results during their tenure.  Skewing the truths, and or taking words or events out-of-context have become common practices in damaging opponents, and favoring the new face of hope and change.  Easy prey, since no one is perfect.

Campaigning on promises of change is imperative for any candidate seeking office in this 21st century.  Our society has become so divided, it is not uncommon to expect support for no greater than 50% of the population.  For many, the “grass is greener in the other pasture”.  They will not be pleased or satisfied with status quo, and they will demand change.  In the past few Presidential elections for example, I would suggest more people voted against candidates, than those actually voting for their candidates.

But in this leadership blog, I am not seeking to debate politics, as I am more focused on emphasizing the primary purpose of leadership. I believe the purpose of leadership is to envision, communicate, motivate, and deliver positive CHANGE to all within the organization.  Whether one is focused on political and governmental organizations, military organizations, business organizations, religious organizations, or community-based organizations, followers often embrace the pendulum swing of change that their leaders promise.

Tom McCallum writes,

“a pendulum is a favorite device for me as a coach. So often I
find people beating themselves up around their behavior, and,
more particularly, how when they choose to change a behavior
they often “over correct”.

Imagine a pendulum that swings to the far end of its range.
Now imagine that is something in yourself you wish to “correct”.

When you let go of a pendulum, does it swing and then
suddenly stop in perfect alignment in the center? No, it gains
momentum and swings across to the other side, “over-
correcting” if you will. The pendulum will then swing back and
forth, gradually finding center.

The same applies to human behavior. Whether for an
individual, team, business, or even society at large, we can
consider the pendulum as a device for considering behavior.

We are all seeking to “find center” at all levels, yet it is only very
rarely that it happens without the swings of the pendulum occurring.

Now, let’s take that into the role of a leader. Whatever business
or organization you lead, have you seen where you’ve just got
everything into alignment, you’ve found the center…. only to
then have something happen through internal or external
factors that knocks things off center, swinging the pendulum off
to one side or other? Of course!

So, a key role of leaders is to constantly be aware of what
alignment looks and feels like, to have that internal compass (to
mix my metaphors!). Once you have that awareness, you can
then check to see if your organization is out of alignment, if the
pendulum has swung again. When you know what “center”
looks like and where you have swung away from center, you
can then focus on bringing the pendulum back.

Leadership of this nature is with us all and is a journey without
a final destination. Perhaps we can call it “Pendulum

Does McCallum have it right?  Is leadership a journey without a final destination?  I surely hope not.  I do not believe that change requires a direct opposite of the current state (as in a swing from left to right).  In fact, forever the optimist, I believe leaders can compromise, finding center ground that benefits more over not.  The key is creating a future vision that is shared by all.  The leader needs to ask him or herself, “what would success look like for our organization”?

For example, in the national political scenario that I began this blog entry, it may mean a country that is civil, is accepting of all, and provides equal opportunity for all.  It is a country where neighbor helps neighbor, where people respect each other, and where there is not animosity, jealousy, and hatred over other peoples’ successes.  It is a nation that people are proud to call home.  It is a nation that realizes past failures and apologizes for them; and is not a nation that attempts to hide or erase its historical past.  It is a nation that cares for its aged and its weak, its young and its destitute, and is welcoming towards legal entry.  It is a nation that provides opportunity to all those willing to work towards individual success, and provides consequences to those seeking handouts or unearned benefits without offering effort, when they are able to do so.  It is a nation that shares responsibility towards world peace, and offers fair-share assistance to other nations in need. It is a nation where elected officials are willing to listen, and to engage in bipartisan negotiations in order to achieve win-win compromises for the benefit of the people. It is a nation that does not support life-long appointments for elected officials, especially those lawmakers who personally “work the system”, while earning millions of dollars over and above their normal wages.

Until these aforementioned loopholes are closed, I am afraid the pendulum will continue to swing every four to eight years in national politics.  People will continue to become disgusted with the current state-of-affairs, and will vote against incumbents more than voting for their optimal leader.

In today’s business organizations, stakeholders such as investors, employees, customers, suppliers, and strategic partners, are attracted to the optimism of future planning and strategic direction.  They seek confidence in their leaders being able to motivate the organization, and to delegate appropriately in order to meet and exceed all organizational objectives.  They do not seek pendulum-like opposite changes merely because of discontent or impatience, but rather wish to believe in the long-run ability of the organization based on milestones, periodic goals, and accomplishments.  They seek center ground solutions that result in positive organizational change.

Obviously, when organizations are failing, change is necessary.  However, for organizations that are succeeding, change is equally as important. Everything around an organization in today’s global economy is changing.  Organizations that do not change with the times will become stagnant, and will ultimately lose their competitive advantage.  The amount of change and the speed of change should be determined by the current situation, and the severity of the need for change.  Leaders are necessary in making such decisions, for the good of their organizations.

Slow steady change is preferred and suggested over pendulum-like quick and severe opposite approaches.  Finding center ground is paramount to gaining and sustaining universal leadership support.

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