Collaboration at the heart of your supply chain

Leadership development in action


My recent blog: ‘Making it stick', featured Lewin’s field theory as the basis for modelling transformational change. In this blog, I will examine leadership development and the actual change process itself, exploring how to deliver sustainable changes to our actions, habits or competencies. Whether we are dealing with supply chain transformation or developing supply chain skills and capabilities, we need high calibre leadership across and within our supply chain functions.

Change is continuous, yet we rarely experience it consciously like this. More often, specific events and circumstances may help us to realise that we have changed our habits and behaviours in a specific way. These experiences make our awareness of change seem more often as discovery rather than incremental progress.

Much of the training we experience within our organisations is designed to produce leaders, or at least people who can act the way effective leaders act. This tends to produce a ‘bounce’ in people participating in leadership development programs, often called the ‘honeymoon effect’ - an immediate impact of the training. Within months, the new behaviour dissipates, and our search for sustained change continues – until the next learning intervention.

Intentional Change Theory (ICT), developed by Prof Richard Boyatzis, portrays these development experiences as an iterative cycle with 5 steps. Describing each step as a “moment of emergence”, the five steps in the ICT cycle are:

Representation of ICT Cycle based on
Richard E. Boyatzis, (2006) "An overview of intentional change from a complexity perspective", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 25 Issue: 7, pp.607-623

These steps are described here for an individual. ICT is also valid for teams, and is the basis of very successful team coaching approaches.

  1. Seeing our desired future
    The starting point in leadership development is the discovery of who we want to be. This needs an awareness of our strengths, an image of our desired future and a sense of hope that it is attainable.
  2. How we act with others
    Awareness of our current self - the person others see - is elusive. The greatest challenge to an accurate self-image is to see ourselves as others do. Factors which contribute to this challenge include a lack of accurate feedback from others, a lack of awareness of one’s own behaviour, being frightened of change and not caring.
  3. Developing a learning agenda
    A learning agenda focuses on development. We need a plan to get to the desired self and desired future (step 1 above), using our strengths and building on some weaknesses. This plan should require us to be open to new activities and experiences. It is often in contrast to what we feel in the obligatory nature of fulfilling to-do lists or complying with an agenda for the future which belongs to others, not us.
  4. Experimenting with new habits
    The next step in our leadership development comes in the form of experimenting and practicing behaviour characteristics of effective leaders, thereby developing new habits. This may be reinforcing some effective habits from the past or trying new ones. Experimentation and testing of the new behaviours must be followed by a period of practicing them until they become habits.
  5. Others helping us
    Boyatzis explained how sustained, desired change for individuals needs others to help, guide, support, and sometimes coax us along. He explained how they “create a context within which people interpret progress on desired changes … and even contribute significant input”

So what?

Intentional Change Theory (ICT) helps us examine leadership development. It helps us understand how individuals, groups, and organisations can create leaders, thereby bringing about desired changes in a sustainable manner.

Three questions to consider in conclusion are:
i. What is your desired future, and why?
ii. How can you use ICT to shape your own leadership development?
iii. How can you shape the development of leadership within your teams?

Alan Hayes
Sustainability & Strategy Manager, Supply Chain, IGD