Good leaders are change agents. Nothing around us stays static, so change leadership is a necessity. Change for the sake of change is not good leadership. Change requires a grounding in a business and societal understanding and discovery from which reasonable policies and strategies arise. Included in the grounding needs to be a sense and reality of the common good. Not a segmented good but a common good. Common good may not cover everyone, but it covers a diverse group.
Change leadership and common good need a tighter intersection. What the intersection looks like is a reflection, which can be a personal one. However, it cannot stop with personal reflection. A connection to community, society, and a common good requires a greater conversation with a diverse group of team members and citizens.
Common Good: Dignity and Ethics
Change leadership and common good create an interesting intersection. Often, change leadership is viewed as disrupting the status quo or rule-breaking. Price (2008) argues how rule-breaking behavior should meet a higher standard, meaning the ends are morally better than what exists. Dignity plays a key role, too. Kipper (2017) points out how dignity is too often ignored as an ethical value, leaving injustices in place rather than stepping up to the challenges. Change leaders need to consider ethics and dignity in their actions, especially in workplaces.
The Ignatian values, as others do, play a key role, especially in caring for the whole system, using spiritual intelligence to know one’s values, and using contemplative action to pause and center (O’Conner & Myers, 2018). O’Connor and Myers argue how the business organization is the primary community for many today, so leaders need to embrace better value choices in how they lead. The common good is about the engagement of others, but it needs to be inclusive, ethical, and centered.
When I consider what common good means to change leadership, the elements of ethics, dignity, wholeness, and thoughtfulness come into play. Change creates challenges, especially since it takes individuals and organizations out of their comfort zone. Comparably, change creates a better future, especially when done with higher standards of what a new future can do for others. Rogers (2003) described diffusion as a social change, altering structures and embracing new ideas. Diffusion brings a greater leadership responsibility and a diligent focus on the common good.
Corporate Citizenship and Change Leadership
Lowney (2003) discusses heroism as an important leadership trait, mixing a balance of dreamer and pragmatist. In reflecting on myself as a change agent, the balance of dreamer and pragmatist is what I would like to achieve, and these dimensions are centered on corporate citizenship. Dunlop and Lee (2003) describe organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) as a willingness to help each other, exhibiting a sense of responsibility, and working without complaining. Burke (2018) adds the importance of leadership qualities such as persistence, clarity of vision, and self-awareness. Each characteristic represents the best in the mix of dreamer and pragmatist, and how I would like to be described as a change agent.
Equally important, team members adopt OCBs when working with a politically skilled ethical leader (Gill, Lapalme, & Séguin, 2014). The political skills relate to pragmatism, and the ethical elements highlight the importance of retaining a focus on the common good. Rogers (2003) points out the essential nature of credibility in being a change agent, embracing knowledge and safety. As Burke (2018) highlights, change management is a mix of consulting and strategy development with an understanding of systems and behavioral science. OCB qualities can serve as a platform for dreaming and implementing change in a results-oriented way.
How Do You Embrace Your Change Agent Role?
In reflecting on how to describe myself as a change agent, my objective is to be a good corporate citizen and exemplify good ethics and decision making throughout a change initiative. Through any change-for-the-better mission, I want to take the time to understand the late majority and laggards and ensure I am not missing important information to make the process more effective and meaningful. Bringing out the best in others and creating a better outcome than before are fundamental to how I act and how I treat others.
How do you describe your change agent role for the common good?
Burke, W. W. (2018). Organization change: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.
Dunlop, P. D., & Lee, K. (2003). Workplace deviance, organizational citizenship behavior, and business unit performance: The bad apples do spoil the whole barrel. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(1), 67-80. doi:10.1002/job.243
Gill, A., Lapalme, M., & Séguin, M. (2014). When politics meets ethics: How political skill helps ethical leaders foster organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Managerial Issues, 26(3), 204-218,201.
Kipper, K. (2015). Aligning civic and corporate leadership with human dignity: Activism at the intersection of business and government. Journal of Business Ethics,146(1), 125-133. doi:10.1007/s10551-015-2917-5
O’Connor, D., & Myers, J. (2018). Ignatian values in business and accounting education: Towards the formation of ethical leadership. Journal of Business and Educational Leadership, 7(1), 124-136.
Price, T. L. (2008). Leadership ethics: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovation (5th ed.). New York: The Free Press.