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The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development, Third Edition by Marian N. Ruderman, Ellen Van Velsor, Cynthia D. McCauley

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Chapter 7. Leader Development in Times of Change

Michael Wakefield

Kerry A. Bunker

Times are tough. The economy is a mess, and we're struggling along with everyone else. Sales are way off, and our stock has plummeted. We really have no choice here! We're cutting back and taking the typical steps for hard times. We've restricted all but critical travel, frozen hiring, and are seriously looking at reducing our workforce. The problem is morale is in the tank. I'm starting to hear that the only reason most people are staying is because they have no place else to go. The ones we have lost were part of the key talent pool we were grooming for the future; and I'm certain there are many others who have their updated résumés posted on the Internet. People seem to doubt and resist every action we take—even the changes we were planning to roll out before the downturn. I'm tired of waiting for them to get with the program so we can fix things. Surely they understand the reasons for doing what we're doing. Why do they have to be so negative and critical? Why don't they trust us?

Sound familiar? Anyone who has tried to help organizations adapt to change in the past twenty years has heard this refrain from more than a few leaders. Although the triggering events may vary (industry consolidations, macroeconomic turmoil, globalization, poor strategic planning, technology shifts), leaders continue to be vexed about how to guide an organization back to stability from the edge of decline. Sometimes they ...

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