Leaders are responsible for raising performance through having a vision and creating successful change. When this happens, leaders are praised and rewarded for creating new processes, products and organizational capability. Leaders are highlighted for the change they created and the value inherent in the ‘more’ their company is all about.
Change is vital to an organization and its sustained performance but change for its own sake creates a different kind of leader – an accretive leader.
What is an accretive leader? One who allows individual changes to build up, one on top of the other, with little consideration of the cumulative effect of change.
CIOs and IT call accretion – legacy – and recognize it as a barrier to change as new solutions and technologies rest on the debris of past transformation efforts. The figure below provides a lighter look at the accumulated legacy that has accreted in many organizations.
Some characteristics of accretive leaders include:
- Piling on solutions in an ‘ad hoc’ fashion to address point needs and specific situations. If you do not ask, what will we stop doing, then you may be an accretive leader.
- Recreating your prior enviornment whenever you come into a new orgnization or role. If you the only way you can be successful is to deal yourself a new hand rather than playing the cards you were given, then you may be an accretive leader.
- Valuing the promise of potential value over the reality of current operations. If solving the issue is only as far away as ‘buying a new solution’’, then you may be an accretive leader.
- Allowing organizational performance to reach a crisis situation before taking action. If you have to create a burning platform that presents no option to the organiation, then you may be an accretive leader.
- Following an old engineering ‘rule’ that when something breaks you need to make it ‘thicker’ or applying more duct tape. If just making something better by giving it more management focus, creating a new organizational unit, or assigning a task force, then you may be an accretive leader.
- Discounting the experience, insight and potential of your people to find creative and innovative ways to re-imagine and re-engineer solutions. If you assume your organiation is biased against change, then you may be an accretive leader.
- Placing greater value in activity over results, as activity, any activity as being as a substitute or diversion for achieving results. If you are talking about building momentum or getting started even if we may be partially wrong, then you may be an accretive leader.
If these statements ring a bell, there is a chance that you may be an accretive leader or be leading an accretive function – which can include IT.
An accretive leader is not a bad leader, rather than are incomplete leader. Their mindset treats transformation as a transaction and a way of managing rather htan resolving business issues. Accretive leaders find purpose in perpetuating a performance sistuation, constantly tinkering with it, engaging in sequential change. They see change as something they do and need to do more of to create value without regard for the cumulative impact of change on operations, finances and future organizational agility. If there is no need to change, then does the company need you as a leader?
So are you an accretive leader? Do you work for one? Do you know of others in your company?
Some thoughts on reforming the accretive leader is the subject of the next post.