By Randy Harrington, Ph.D., and Carmen E. Voillequé
Chapter 1: Evolutionaries
It is difficult to manifest and sustain strategic clarity in a world where thousands of tasks bog down the days and the rules seem to change the moment we gain momentum. The sad truth is that most organizations are simply trying to reduce the frustration of a beleaguered staff who see winning as surviving, biding time until some external force defines their options and direction for good or ill.
Often it is in times such as these that organizational leaders call upon us trainers. They know things need to change, and they know they need help, but what they often don’t know is what kind of help they are looking for. So, they ask us to come in and “do some training” or “facilitate some planning sessions.” But what they are really looking for is a kind of positive organizational transformation. More training is not the solution. And they know it isn’t the solution, but there isn’t another way to talk about transformative change. We lack a common language to define this sort of transformational organizational need. In this book, we will provide a new way to talk about organizational transformation and through these conversations, we believe you can achieve the evolution you are seeking for your team, company, or community.
We offer the term, “Evolutionaries,” to describe the kind of people who lead organizations through transformative change. We believe these leaders MUST be present within the organization itself—they cannot be outside consultants, advisors, or coaches. (Of course, as we are actually consultants ourselves, we still believe that outside facilitators provide a crucial role in organizational transformation—just not as Evolutionaries.)
An Evolutionary is:
- A Planner: Evolutionaries need a cause and a good, flexible plan—they need to be attached to a strategic outcome they are invested in and believe in.
- A Leader: Evolutionaries must know the business at hand and possess the kind of “street credibility” with your organization’s people that garners trust, respect, and followers.
- A Communicator: Evolutionaries are experts at delivering clear and inspiring messages. They can adapt to the language culture of those they lead, and they are willing to learn new “languages” as necessary to facilitate positive transformation for an organization.
- A Teammate: Evolutionaries aren’t just great leaders, they are great teammates and great followers. In fact, if you don’t have a strong desire to be a part of a team, or follow great leadership when you see it, you are probably not an Evolutionary.
- An Innovator: Evolutionaries are skilled in the business of predicting the future. They know how to identify trends, seek out thought leadership, and be awake and aware of new opportunities; they are open to change, comfortable with ambiguity, and highly adaptable.
- A Guide: Evolutionaries are masters in the art and science of Guidance. They are confident in the “trail”; they know how to facilitate, inspire, foster trust, stay the course, and bring people successfully toward a desired end state.
You need Evolutionaries to help you lead your organization in times of transition. They are the secret weapons of organizations that transform quickly, that are able to adapt and innovate, and rise to any challenge, no matter how unexpected. But make no mistake—Evolutionaries are not superheroes; they are not invincible. Nor are they the only type of leader your organization needs. Evolutionaries are not the best people to lead in times of stability and maintenance. Evolutionaries have weaknesses: patience, consistency, and long-term commitment, to name a few. But if it is time for a change in your organization, a transformation, or just a new idea, then you are in need of a good Evolutionary.
Evolutionaries are often given titles such as “Turnaround Specialist,” “Chief Strategy Officer,” “Inventor,” or even “Visionary.” But Evolutionaries are more than just specialists in change—they are committed to a certain type of change. We believe that Evolutionaries are at heart somewhat idealistic. They have made a commitment to making the future a better place through the change or transformation they lead. They seek to master the change experience so they can better guide others toward a higher, altruistic, and motivational goal. This sensibility transfers into how Evolutionaries approach their own careers, and how they think about organizational strategy, planning, and execution.
We also want to be clear about what Evolutionaries are not. They are not just experts or smart people or charismatic leaders. They possess the skills and competencies required to lead transformational change, from the idea to building the right team to participating in that team to achieve results. Not everyone should want to be an Evolutionary, any more than everyone should want to be a star surgeon. In fact, we might not want an Evolutionary surgeon to operate on us!
Over the last 15 years in our work as consultants in the areas of strategy, change management, and organizational development, we have had the opportunity to meet a few memorable Evolutionaries. This book is really about telling their stories. In other chapters, you will meet some of the best modern Evolutionary leaders we know, and you will have the opportunity to learn from their wisdom, experience, and advice. For each key area of the Evolutionary personality, our experts will chime in, and we offer our analysis from more than a decade of experience working with these remarkable people to change the world.
Excerpt from “Evolutionaries, Transformational Leadership: The Missing Link in Your Organization,” by Carmen Voilleque and Dr. Randy Harrington. For more information, visit http://www.be-evolutionary.com.
Randy Harrington, Ph.D., completed his doctorate in Communication at the University of Oregon in 1992 and immediately began working as a consultant. Over the last 20 years, Harrington has conducted hundreds of planning sessions and developed a wide range of change management strategies for companies large and small. His clients include Microsoft, Adobe, hospitals, government agencies, and financial institutions all over the country. Harrington is currently the CEO of Extreme Arts and Sciences and a partner with Strategic Arts and Sciences.
Carmen Voilleque is a senior consultant and partner with Strategic Arts and Sciences and the CEO of Best Practice Media. Her background features deep experience in education, curriculum development, and management training. Voilleque works with a wide range of client groups, including government agencies, financial institutions, and health-care companies. Last year, Voilleque completed a scope of work that allowed all of the public and private agencies that serve the needs of children in Oregon to plan and work together to maximize resources.