Breaking with the Past

break freeOne of the most important leadership roles during times of change is that of putting into words what it is time to leave behind.

Because talking about making a break with the past can upset its defenders, some leaders shy away from articulating just what it is time to say good-bye to. But in their unwillingness to say what it is time to let go of, they are jeopardizing the very change that they believe they are leading. Managers risk three equally serious and difficult reactions when they do not specify what is over and what isn’t:

1. People don’t dare to stop doing anything. They try to do all the old things and the new things. Soon they burn out with the overload.

2. People make their own decisions about what to discard and what to keep, and the result is inconsistency and chaos.

3. People toss out everything that was done in the past, and the baby disappears with the bathwater.


– Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges

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