Remain Authentic— but Conform Enough

IN CHAPTER 4, we focused on the reading and rewriting task that leaders face with respect to both individuals and teams. But they must also read the organizational context. This involves understanding the complex social architecture to which the leader must adapt in order to obtain traction in the organization.1

The crucial word here is adapt. Leaders must conform enough if they are to make the connections necessary to deliver change. Leaders who succeed in changing organizations challenge the norms—but rarely all of them, all at once. They do not seek out instant head-on confrontation without understanding the organizational context. Indeed, survival (particularly in the early days) requires measured ...

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