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Systems change, leadership and a climate of urgency

I keep getting the message that my website is only 6/7complete and being a person that likes to tick-all-the-boxes, I discovered that it was waiting for a post. I felt compulsively compelled to comply (yes, I love alliteration).

The importance of system leadership has figured prominently in my research and I turned to some of my touchstone books for reflection. Here is a passage from Heifetz's 1994 book Leadership Without Easy Answers that I am particularly drawn to:

“Like living systems, social systems under threat try to restore equilibrium. Generally, equilibrium means stability in which the levels of stress within the political, social, and economic areas of the society are not increasing. Yet there is nothing ideal or good about a state of equilibrium per se. Indeed, achieving adaptive change probably requires sustained periods of disequilibrium. A society may operate without increasing levels of stress, quite oblivious to the bankruptcy that lies ahead. Without a general climate of urgency – the feeling that something must change – the society may do nothing until it is too late. How to manage sustained periods of stress consequently poses a central question for the exercise of leadership” (p35).

I’m pretty sure readers can relate to the current “stress within the political, social, and economic areas of the society”. However, do you think there is a general climate of urgency to sustain periods of disquilibrium?

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